Dave O’Neil gagging for Tractor Monkeys

Dave O'Neil explains how themed episodes and storytelling has refreshed ABC1's Tractor Monkeys.

1trmHe’s known for his laid-back approach to humour, but Dave O’Neil reckons gags are not the most important ingredient to a good panel show.

Next week he returns for the second season of Tractor Monkeys on ABC1, looking back on nostalgia with a mix of affection and comedy.

“You have to have storytelling. In the first (season) there was a bit too much emphasis on gags but this one has more storytelling,” he acknowledges.

“The game has to be important and the storytelling is important but I reckon the jokes come third.”

Joined by host Merrick Watts and fellow captain Monty Dimond, this season delves deep into ABC video vaults once more, but this time structures the show around weekly themes.

“The first show is about Fashion. It makes it a lot easier, so even if you can’t get the concept of the show you know ‘Oh yeah, they’re talking about Fashion.’ We talk about Summer, Love. And then we can also pick talent relevant to the show, which is good,” he explains.

“For Fashion we have Kerri-Anne and Bob Downe. I don’t know much about Fashion but these guys knew every answer.”

Other guests this season include Adam Zwar, Denise Scott and Glenn Robbins.

“Glenn talks a lot about his penchant for being a bit of a nudist, which we discovered on the show. But we’ve tried to mix it up with veteran performers and younger ones,” says O’Neil.

“We have Noeline Brown with Adam Richards, so it’s good to have a generational gap because everyone has different stories.

“Graeme Blundell spoke about Alvin Purple and that’s where you get the really good stuff. You have the comedians provide the funny stuff and then some of these guys who were actually involved in it to provide the memories.

“Daryl Braithwaite came on and Jean Kittson. It’s good to see some of these people who have been off doing other stuff. She was fantastic and her memories were great to hear.”

There are 8 new episodes and a Christmas Special to air on Christmas Day.

“We also go to the National Archives, so it’s not just ABC stuff. So that’s been funny, too. You see some great tourist stuff that they sent to England to try and get people to settle here.

“I’m firmly from the 70s and 80s but Monty is from the 90s,” he says.

“I’m 48 and I do remember a fair bit of this stuff. I quite like nostalgia and TV shows. I’m always sending them clips from YouTube because there’s some funny stuff out there.

“I’ve always loved history and nostalgia. Stuff from my era like the Sharpies. The gangs of youth!”

Winning a second season is something of a surprise after the first season struggled, but O’Neil says the team has been able to fine tune its format based on audience reception.

Randling shot 26 in a row without that sort of feedback,” he notes.

“But it’s good to sit back and think about what was right and wrong with the first season and go again.”

Tractor Monkeys returns 8pm Wednesday on ABC1.

2 Responses

  1. I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I liked “Tractor Monkeys” because of the joking around, not because of the nostalgia. And storytelling? There’s no storytelling in a panel game format!

    What made the show work for me, in this order, were the casting, then the joking around and tangents, and then the macguffin of nostalgia. Storytelling doesn’t even come into it. And if you don’t like any of those (in that order) then you won’t like the show.

    And thus I speak, with the authority of some anonymous guy on the internet who doesn’t know much about anything.

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