The Sideshow

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The Sideshow
Created by Ted Robinson
Written by Ian Simmons, Simon Dodd, Dave Bloustien, Bruce Griffiths, Warwick Holt, Mat Blackwell
Directed by Martin Coombes
Presented by Paul McDermott
Starring Paul McDermott
Claire Hooper
The Umbilical Brothers
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26
Executive producer(s) Megan Harding - ABC TV
Ted Robinson - GNWTV
Producer(s) Pam Swain
Running time Approximately 57 minutes
Original channel ABC TV
Original run 21 April 2007 – 1 December 2007
External links

The Sideshow was an Australian television programme that was broadcast on ABC TV in 2007. The show was a mixture of stand-up comedy, sketches, live music, circus stunts, cabaret and burlesque. The hour long show was hosted by Paul McDermott.[1] It reused the multiple-stage presentation style of the short-lived ABC show The 10:30 Slot, and remnants of the set of former GNW series The Glass House.

The show began its life as a family variety show, airing at 7:30 pm on Saturday evenings. After 10 episodes beginning in April 2007, it took a few months off. Returning in August at the later time of 9:25 pm allowed the show to move from a PG to an M rating, and include a more adult-oriented humour. Similar to other shows produced by GNW TV, it had a cult following, and was regularly watched by 300,000 to 400,000 viewers. The series finale aired on 1 December 2007.

The show was shot in a very loose style and it was not uncommon for cameras and crew members to be seen in a shot. All floor cameras and the two Jimmy Jibs had oversized Christmas lights attached to them, and become part of the scenery rather than something never to be seen.

The series was created by Ted Robinson and was a GNW TV Production. It was a recreation of a show that Robinson was a part of in the early '90s called the Big Gig and would quite often recycle the stars from that show as "guests". It was pre-recorded in Studio 22 at the ABC's Ultimo studios in Sydney on Thursday nights for air on Saturdays.

Regular segments[edit]

The show begins with an intro by The Threatening Bears, hand puppets manipulated by The Umbilical Brothers. The sketch normally involves one bear hurting the other, or being disgusted by the other's actions. This flows into the opening credits, during which musical director Cameron Bruce (formerly of GUD) and house band "The Bearded Ladies" play the show's theme song. For a short period during the second half of 2007, Clayton Doley stood in as musical director, and the band was known as "The Sideshow Misfits". As well as the opening and closing themes, the house band play walk-on music for guests, riffs between segments, and sometimes accompany guests, musical or otherwise, as they perform.

Host Paul McDermott opens the show with a monologue similar in format to the opening spiel of Good News Week, with jokes about recent news events. This is generally followed by a musical act. Guests have included Evermore (Pilot episode), Thirsty Merc, Sneaky Sound System, Sarah Blasko, Kisschasy, The Cat Empire, Kate Miller-Heidke, Dappled Cities Fly, Expatriate, Kid Confucious, Something for Kate, Dog Trumpet, Tim Rogers, Clare Bowditch, Watussi, Colin Hay, Operator Please, The Hands, Butterfingers and Jimmy Barnes. Regular guests Tripod often perform in this segment.

Following the musical performance, McDermott presents a humorous list of fake apologies from well-known people who could not be on the show that night. After this monologue, he introduces the stand-up guest of the evening, among whom have featured Denise Scott, Tom Gleeson, Dave Hughes, Wil Anderson, Tommy Dean, Eddie Ifft, Josh Thomas, Frank Woodley, Ed Byrne, Kitty Flanagan, Danny Bhoy, Tom Rhodes, Arj Barker, Justin Hamilton, Gary Eck, Fiona O'Loughlin, Charlie Pickering and Greg Fleet.

In the next segment, McDermott introduces the special guest of the week appears. Occasionally, these have been musical guests, such as an interview with Colin Hay from Australian band Men at Work, or a performance from Dein Perry and the Tap Dogs. Mostly, however, these are performers from the circus, burlesque, magician or cabaret industries. Featured guests have included Mr. Fish, Shep Huntly, Imogen Kelly, Matt Hollywood, Space Cowboy, Bobbi, Azaria Universe, Legs on the Wall, Paul Capsis and The Wau Wau Sisters. McDermott is often involved in their skits, playing the role of the 'guinea pig'.

Comedian Flacco has a regular segment on the show, often in the role of "Private Dick" in a stand-up routine that parodies the format of pulp novels. He is occasionally joined by long-time friend Steve Abbott as "The Sandman".

Claire Hooper and Paul McDermott on The Sideshow

Comedienne Claire Hooper then joins McDermott atop the bar for a humorous chat. The segment originated as a "20 questions" interview but gradually drifted away from this format, with Hooper moving into humorous story-telling—often relating to embarrassing events in her own life—and comedy routines. Hooper is normally followed by The Umbilical Brothers, who perform sketches using a combination of vocal sound effects and mime.

McDermott closes the show by predicting the major events of the week ahead in a format similar to his closing monologue on Good News Week. The show always concludes with a musical performance. Most weeks McDermott will sing, sometimes backed by Tripod. Other performers have included Tim Minchin, Eddie Perfect, The Kransky Sisters and Colin Hay. When the song ends McDermott, Tripod and the house band lead an "all-in" rendition of the show's theme song to accompany the closing credits, while the show's regulars and guests emerge on the balcony to sing and dance along.

After the closing credits there is a final skit from The Threatening Bears, normally involving a reference to an earlier segment of the show.

Bumpers / Video insert segments[edit]

These are series of short video sketches that divide up the live-to-tape studio segments.

New Moods in Intelligent Design This sketch features a voiceover from McDermott with accompanying text on screen explaining "Why God Didn't Design" some form of absurd or dysfunctional fictional animal such as the Pyjamadillo (a pyjama-wearing nocturnal armadillo). This is then followed by an animation which gives the viewer visual evidence as to why God didn't design that animal. It concludes with the words "ERGO: God is smart", although after a particularly bizarre animal, it would conclude instead with "God Is Smashed" or "God Is Stoned". This segment lightheartedly satirizes the major arguments for intelligent design as opposed to natural selection by suggesting that the animal in question doesn't exist because God knew better than to create it (rather than its inability to evolve or survive because of the creature's impracticality). This segment most likely stems from McDermott's own Atheism.

The Company of Strangers Presents This sketch, written by Flacco's alter-ego Paul Livingston, normally shows a short animation with a cleverly punned subtitle. The animation often involves a sad, lonely individual performing a menial task.

The Threatening Bears In addition to their regular spots at the beginning and end of the show, the Threatening Bears and the comparatively innocent Koala appear a number of times throughout. They often recreate stunts or segments from the show. Sometimes each sketch within an episode depicts the bears' various attempts at doing something, as opposed to the sketches where the bears don't attempt to do anything.

The Umbilical Brothers In addition to their in-person appearances, a pre-recorded sketch involving visual humour is shot against a plain white background and appears in most episodes, a reusing of the same type of visual gags that the Lager Boys (otherwise known as the Empty Pockets) used to use on the Big Gig, one of Robinsons previous projects. These generally are no longer than twenty or thirty seconds, and have a very simple storyline.


  1. ^ "The Sideshow With Paul McDermott". Retrieved 2007-04-18. 

External links[edit]