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What I’ve Been Watching: Mark Humphries

7:30's Mark Humphries is a fan of Mare of Easttown, The Walking Dead & Alan Partridge.

7:30 satirist Mark Humphries has been addicted to a recent drama via his iPhone, as he explains here…

What shows are on your must-see TV list lately?
MH: I’m immediately regretting having agreed to do this as I’ve just remembered we don’t currently have a television. After our 4 year old got addicted to the televisual treats of Blaze and the Monster Machines, we were forced to hide the TV in a wardrobe and say that it’s “broken”. That said, I’ve just iPhoned my way through Mare of Easttown and it was thrilling to feel like I was part of a “cultural moment”, patiently awaiting each new episode. That was extremely satisfying and, crucially, stuck the landing.

There’s a doco on Binge I don’t want to say too much about other than I think it might be the best documentary series I’ve ever seen. It’s called The Lady and The Dale. I knew nothing about the story going into it, and it is absolutely riveting. On one level, it’s about a woman in the 1970s who launched a motor car company selling a three-wheeled car. But there’s so much more to it than that, so I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises. Strong recommend.

How has lockdown affected your viewing?
MH: Working from home more often has allowed me to watch things at lunchtime, so I’ve been enjoying nibbling at docos like Trump Takes on the World (ABC iview) about US foreign policy during the Trump era. A good reminder of the madness we’ve just lived through, if you can bear to be reminded of it.

Which guilty pleasure show are you reluctant to admit to watching?
MH: When I was in my early teens, I went through a Bold and the Beautiful phase and, although I haven’t sat down to watch an episode in two decades, I’ll keep one eye on it if it’s on at the gym, reading the subtitles. This doesn’t quite qualify as a guilty pleasure, but I’m the only person I know who is still watching The Walking Dead. So it feels like a guilty pleasure now since everyone else seems to have dropped it years ago.

When you settle down for a night on the couch what are your ‘must-haves?’
MH: I do all my viewing late at night, lying on a sofa mattress next to my sleeping son, holding my phone above my head. Sometimes I might even treat myself to a sip of his water glass if I think he won’t notice. Move over, Gold Class!

What show would you secretly love to appear on?
MH: I think every performer in Australia would love to appear on Bluey, that would be like achieving immortality. Would also love to appear on This Time with Alan Partridge as Alan’s estranged son, Fernando.

You are following a long legacy of comedy in current affairs. How do you approach your ideas and execution of sketches for 7:30?
MH: Stephen Sondheim (yes, I’m quoting musical theatre composer Stephen Sondheim) likes to say “content dictates form”. So we (my co-writer Evan Williams and I) always start with what it is that we want to say, and then work out what form the sketch should take that would best convey that idea. So, as an example, recently we wanted to talk honestly about the challenges for young people trying to buy a house. So then we started talking about how you might convey that idea. Do you do it as an ad for a real estate agency? Could it be a profile of a couple trying to buy a home? Is it a parody of Grand Designs? Ultimately, the idea that most excited us was to do it as an auction where the auctioneer actually speaks that truth, but with all the usual pace and gusto. Our cinematographer/editor Chloe Angelo is extremely talented so, where possible, we occasionally like to approach sketches almost as if they’re a short film, because we know she’ll be able to do something really special with it.

Mark Humphries appears fortnightly on 7:30 and releases On Politics and Stuff with Evan Williams on June 30.

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