A word of caution for anybody interviewing Shaun Micallef or reading any of his quotes: irony doesn’t translate in raw text.
There’s no way you can get a sense of the twinkle in his eye as he answers your questions with a deadpan, convincing response. With that in mind, Shaun Micallef has a shopping list of TV show audiences he doesn’t care to count amongst his own.
It all unravelled when I asked if there were any differences between his Mad as Hell viewers and those from The Ex-PM.
“I’m assuming it’s the same people, given it’s the ABC,” he surmises.
“I’m guessing here, but anecdotally I think maybe it skewed a bit older. Or maybe Mad as Hell skews a bit younger. That’s a better way of looking at it. On the ABC that’s people of 50 instead of 73.
“There are obviously certain audience members I clearly don’t want watching my material, because I just don’t like them. So I try and put in stuff that will turn them off.
“You want a certain quality of audience, and I get that at the ABC. I don’t want people who watch Married at First Sight watching my stuff. It would be just a waste, wouldn’t it?”
Hang on, hasn’t Married at First Sight had some of the biggest numbers so far this year?
“Numbers schmubers, I want quality of audience not quantity! There’s your damn headline, you jackal!”
Okaaaaaaay. We press on.
Now on a bit of a roll, there are a few other shows in the firing line.
“I don’t want people who watch Gogglebox watching my show. What is that show?” he asks.
Wait Gogglebox too? Doesn’t it enlighten to debates on Insight, or asylum seeker profiles on Australian Story?
“Why don’t they watch the original show, damned idiots?” Micallef insists.
“And then you open a newspaper and there’s a report about what happened on Gogglebox?
“On (your blog) it looks fine but open the internet and look at Fairfax and the main stories are apparently stuff that’s happened on television.
“Get rid of those shows and put all the budgets into things I’m producing!”
With that twinkle in his eye, he even takes aims at shows produced by ITV Studios Australia and CJZ -both of which produce Mad as Hell and The Ex-PM, respectively.
“We don’t like The Voice, do we? It’s just a waste of time. I don’t want people who watch The Voice watching my material.
“People who watch Bondi Rescue, I don’t want watching my show. The Checkout? No. Even the guys in The Checkout I don’t want watching my show.
“I only want people who are decent, intelligent, who have done their homework ….we’ll send out reading lists… watching my material. Otherwise go and watch that crap on commercial networks.
“I think it’s very, very important to enjoy everything in moderation –from the wonderful filigree work that I do, to the appalling crap that is extruded out without any care at all, that other people do.
“Sausages or Steak?” he smiles.
If you’re still reading at this point you might be genuinely interested in what Mad as Hell has planned for its 7th season. Filming took place at ABC’s Ripponlea studios last night, together with Hard Quiz expected to close a TV history chapter for the broadcaster, relocating to Southbank studios.
“We might be the last show at Ripponlea so if you hear noise during the show it’s probably a wrecking ball taking out the floor above us,” he suggests.
“I have a nostalgic fondness for Ripponlea because it’s 20 years I’ve been doing stuff there.”
Those shows include Newstopia, The Micallef Programme, Welcher & Welcher and even the first season of Talkin Bout Your Generation.
There are 12 episodes in store, as Micallef again takes aim at news events in a show he is reluctant to pigeon-hole.
“If I had to use the word ‘satire’, then I guess that’s what it is. It’s satire but structured as my preferred device, which is sketch comedy fed by the current news, on a panel show budget. It’s not made by the Comedy department but the Light Entertainment department,” he continues.
“We’ve been doing auditions, we want to make the cast a bit bigger. They’ve been getting old. We want some young people.
“Nicholas Bell joined the cast last year, Veronica (Milsom) came back. It would be nice to see some new faces.”
Those 12 weeks are an intense period of him writing, shooting and even editing each week’s episode. But it will slip perfectly into the Wednesday slot now vacated by The Weekly.
“We follow The Weekly, only in terms of chronology. People who watch The Weekly….” he teases.
“And people who watch Mad as Hell I don’t want watching my show.”
Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell returns at 8:30pm tonight on ABC.