Offensive, racist, misogynistic, politically incorrect -and that’s just how his audience loves him.
Paul Fenech is back with his merry band of minorities, social outcasts, working-class and gangs in a 2019 reworking of his long-running knockabout comedy, which began life as a Tropfest film in 1995.
Across 2000 – 2007 it ran as an SBS series, as Pizza / Fat Pizza, with two features in 2003 and 2014.
I have a lot of time for what Fenech achieves with his unique brand of humour, even if I feel decidedly outside his core audience. He knows his fanbase and gives them full-bore Fenech.
Out of context -such as when Housos became an A Current Affair target- he is easily offensive. But when one partakes of a full episode it’s very clear he is offending everybody in equal measure: junkies, unemployed, gays, disabled, Asians, Greeks, Lebanese, Skippy Australians….. all bets are off. This harks back to a uniquely Australian sense of humour: our ability to laugh at ourselves.
In Fat Pizza: Back in Business there are new 2019 targets: African gangs, selfie-mad Kardashian wanna-bes, web-cammers …it’s a pizza with the lot.
Pauly Falzoni (Fenech) has set up shop after rehabilitating himself from a coward-punch, which has left him with “restless leg syndrome.” He is forced to hire a new cook -a chef from Hong Kong with whom he can only communicate through a translator app- and three young delivery guys with bikes. He warns them all: never go inside the home.
A series of escapades -none of which are any more significant than the other- unfold across the opening episode. They involve delivery mishaps, avoiding fights, road accidents, and a whole lot of shouting. A visit to his old mate Sleek (Paul Nakad), now running a car park kebab stall, leaves him with a serious case of diarrhea which invariably causes social embarrassment and deposits where they surely don’t belong.
He also seeks management advice from Bobo Gigliotti (John Boxer), now incarcerated, who wants a daily delivery to his ailing Mama (Maria Venuti).
In true Fenech-style the gags come thick and fast, larger than life, in-your-face, including with slapstick that is pretty rare these days. Fenech would have been right at home with the Keystone Cops (and that’s a compliment). He edits at a frenetic pace, jamming scenes with gags, language, offence and adult humour (including the C-bomb and a dildo).
Amongst a bumper cast of cameos are Angry Anderson, John Mangos, Anthony Mundine, Garry Who, Vince Sorrenti, Jean Kittson and I’m sure I spotted Adam Spencer. Watch out for the relentlessly-swearing Elle Dawe as Shazza. And having Maria Venuti back on screen, even if she doesn’t utter a word, is quite special for what it represents.
If I have any criticism, it is that this is way too long. At 49 minutes it is a potent reminder of why comedies the world over clock in at 30 minutes (ok there are a few exceptions, but you get the point). Seven should really have asked Fenech to go back to the edit suite.
This aside, it will be a sure-fire hit with the Fat Pizza audience.
Fat Pizza airs 8:30pm Tuesday on 7mate.