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Just for my reference.

Summer Heights High[edit]

  • "I realised that a good way of doing (Summer Heights High) was to cover the schoolboy-world, schoolgirl-world and the teacher-world. It was three key characters who were going to open up those worlds, through their eyes. And I wanted to flesh out the characters more than I did with We Can Be Heroes. I wanted to spend more time with them and get to know them and get to know their supporting cast. So then I needed to leave space and have less characters."[1]
    • "The supporting cast is made up of actors and non-actors. No stone was left unturned in the search for the perfect people for major roles such as Rodney, the science teacher and Mr G's fawning assistant on the musical (Stanley Roach, a fireman) and the school principal Mrs Murray (Elida Brereton, a school principal). Lilley even had his girlfriend approach 16-year-old Sally Kingsford in a restaurant, because she looked perfect for the part of the school dag. Casting Ja'mie's new clique proved the most difficult, due to the character's popularity. 'We kept finding girls who were fans of We Can Be Heroes and who were doing Ja'mie impersonations and really trying to play it for laughs. It was a bit of a search to find girls who were willing to play it straight.'"
    • "Lilley says his favourite person on set was Danny Alasbbagh, an actor with Down syndrome who plays Mr G's teacher's pet, Toby. '(Danny) was just so fun and so easy. You didn't have to tiptoe around him and treat him carefully. He's really easy to direct and remembered everything that he had to do and loved the whole illusion that he was Toby. He knew what was happening in the scenes, you could see that. But it's the same with the other actors. Sometimes I wonder whether half the people around me are getting it. But I think that's what works on screen.'"
    • "What was so fascinating about making this show was the whole concept of adults controlling kids and telling them how to behave and what they should be when they grow up. I've always been fascinated by that. There's a world of stories in schools. Summer Heights has some tragic moments but it's always funny, hopefully, that's the idea. But I like to make things a bit unexpected and a bit shocking."[1]
  • "Lilley is steadfast in his defence of the show, insisting it's not just out to make you laugh, but to expose prejudice and bigotry and force you to contemplate your own belief systems. 'I think it's important at times to make people uncomfortable and challenged and to create a show where the audience is never quite sure what it is going to get.'"
    • Lilley: "The story about the Down syndrome boy is an important one as the story progresses because he (Mr G) extends himself to this boy and they have a nice bond. The story is justified in the end."
    • "He also writes for the Ja'mie and Jonah characters by spending time around teenagers and studying speech patterns and body language."
    • Lilley: "It was hard casting Jonah's friends, the Islander boys, because some parents would turn up to the auditions and say 'there's too much language, so we're not doing it'. In the end, we got the Islander kids from a rugby club."[2]



  • Re: Jonah lying that his father has been molesting him, only confessing that he made it up to get out of an English assignment after his father threatens to take away his Playstation.
    • Lilley: while SHH is a comedy, "it's important at times to make people uncomfortable and challenged. ... We've pushed boundaries ... but I'm not going out of my way to upset people ... "It is a dramatic storyline with Jonah. He's in this cultural minority group and they [the school] are trying to do all these politically correct things to help him, but most of it is not helpful."
    • Dr Helen McGrath, a senior lecturer in psychology and education at Deakin University and a counselling psychologist: "It's very accurate but if it's trying to get a laugh out of something that is quite shocking, my reaction to that is that he's gone too far. ... This would distress enormously people to whom this kind of thing has happened. This is a real issue."[3]
  • "The problem with ... those characters is that they're one joke and out."[4]

Influence on students?[edit]

  • "A secondary teacher, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said students at his northern-suburbs school had been quoting Jonah's dialogue from the show. Like Jonah, students have been telling teachers to "puck off", then defending themselves by suggesting "puck with a 'p' " is not offensive."[3]
  • "In her classes the show is a constant talking point, says [a] Melbourne teacher, but she is not concerned that her charges will take on the callousness of Ja'mie or the delinquency of Jonah. Youth researcher Professor Wyn likewise emphasises the sophistication with which young people now consume media. 'They've grown up with all sorts of video clips, they're actually bombarded with images and stories and this is part of their currency, this is something that they play with,' she says. 'This is not a model (for behaviour) at all … no more than Kath and Kim could provide a model for older people. But what they're both doing is playing around with the cultural expressions of our time.'"[5]
  • "Many children are repeating rude and racist phrases uttered by the unruly teenager in ABC's hit TV comedy Summer Heights High, according to parents and teachers." ("puck off", "homos", "dick-tation")
    • "Victorian Principals Association president Fred Ackerman criticised the show for promoting poor standards of behaviour. 'Kids do copy the sorts of role models portrayed on TV and absorb their behaviour like sponges.'"
    • "Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said that, though the show was 'brilliant' and 'a fabulous Australian comedy', it could be seen to be 'mocking effeminate men and homosexuals as well as reinforcing racial stereotypes, through characters such as Jonah. It is really important to understand that kids under eight can't distinguish between fact and fantasy. There is potential kids won't see the show as a satire. There is also the danger of people over eight not being able to recognise this as satire either.'"
    • "Education Union branch president Mary Bluett said the show was 'clearly tongue-in-cheek'. 'It takes the mickey out of a range of stereotypes and people can't really take offence. It is directed at secondary school students in an appropriate timeslot.'"[6]


  • "At the heart of the show fidgets ADHD-afflicted Jonah Takalua, an “at-risker” who at 13 still can’t read. Jonah is of Polynesian descent, and his ethnicity makes him an outsider. Originally from Tonga, he’s called a “fob” by some of his schoolmates, who decorate his locker with racist graffiti. Abrasive, explosive and possessed of the kind of volcanic energy only a teenage boy can possess, Jonah is funny, but his situation is not. Poor, motherless and tossed around by a thuggish dad, Jonah’s circumstances make him the show’s emotional centre. There’s an undercurrent of racism to teachers’ dealings with Jonah, and the school’s inability to deal with him compassionately or fairly is heartbreaking. “I worry that we as a school aren’t doing him much good,” sighs the kindly Mrs. Palmer, one of his teachers. To this viewer at least, the entire series seems to organize itself in service of this subtle but significant revelation."[7]
  • "While Lilley certainly pushes boundaries by building gags around minorities, they are never the butt of jokes. The laughs are always on Lilley's ludicrous, larger-than-life personas. 'I think most people will understand that Jonah's a character and just a naughty kid. The fact that he's an Islander is kind of irrelevant,' he says, before contradicting himself: 'Some racial issues do come up later on in the series. Really, Jonah just wants to have fun at school and he's pretty harmless.'"[1]
  • "Lilley captures Jonah's mumbling bravado perfectly, and demonstrates that no matter what the teachers do, Jonah has the upper hand."[8]
  • "'We've all known Jonah's,' says one longtime high school teacher. And it's not the islander in him that's familiar, it's the attitude. She points to the near-hysterical outburst of English teacher Ms Wheatley in the penultimate episode as a scenario that would be familiar to many. 'We've all been there and anyone who's a teacher who hasn't been there with the kids has either been living in utopia or they've had a very lucky experience.'"[5]
  • "But in Jonah Takalua, we are given an underdog and our only hope for redemption. Young Jonah, although pinned in early episodes as a simple, class clown, has proven to be the heart of Summer Heights High."
    • "Attending a remedial English class after school, despite denying his attendance to his friends, we see Jonah in an altered light. Without his misbehaving comrades, the audience is allowed insight into a young boy with aspirations, and the accompanying sense to realise the limitations of his situation."[9]
  • "His rendition is perfect."
    • "His performances are startling. You don't think, 'There's Chris Lilley pretending to be someone else.' He is someone else."[10]
  • "The jewel in his twisted jester's cap is Jonah, who Lilley plays with a cherry-bomb energy and an outsider's empathy that makes Jonah such an aggravating charmer, it's easy to forget that this 13-year-old hooligan is being played by a 33-year-old actor."[11]
  • "the aching heart of Summer Heights lies in Lilley's depiction of Jonah, whose break-dancing delinquent bravado barely masks the insecurity and fear of a boy who's given up at trying to measure up."[12]
  • "Jonah is also a new type of character in a comedic show. The quote "Fuck you, sir," kind of nails the role down: you can see why Jonah's a pain in the ass to his teachers but you like him just the same. Lilley embodies the bad-but-maybe-well-meaning kid so well--the mumbled verbal diarrhea, the sprawling limbs, the physical affection with his boys. The other students in the show are played by real kids; it's a testament to both Lilley's and their own acting ability that it doesn't seem totally strange that an actor in his mid-30's is playing someone who pals around with 13-year-olds."[13]
  • "Of the three characters, Jonah is the most annoying, at least initially. ... Yet Jonah has his own humble dreams, aspiring to become a professional break dancer and even learning to read. He also wants to be liked, at least by his reading teacher, and one feels a bit of sympathy creeping in for the little lout as the series progresses."[14]


  • "Stephen Dinham from the Australian Council for Educational Research thinks there are important lessons to be learnt from Jonah about how the education system can help students like him. 'Jonah exemplifies a particular group of people,' he said. 'It is not everybody but it is a group of people who really have a lot of trouble in school.' To Professor Dinham, Jonah's biggest problem is literacy. He has trouble reading, and he's falling behind his peer group. 'Basically by the time people like Jonah get to the end of primary school, they might be three or four years behind their peers,' he said. 'When they get to high school, that can widen - they can be up to seven years behind peers and basically, about the second year they hit a literacy wall because so much of schooling is literacy-based, including mathematics.' Professor Dinham thinks this is one of the core messages to be taken from the television show."[15]
    • "Jonah's character is badly behaved. He's always disrupting class, teasing younger students and graffitiing. But Professor Dinham says all of this is a result of Jonah's learning difficulties and he's trying to cover up academic failings with bravado in the playground. One of the ways the teachers try to deal with Jonah's behaviour is to involve him in a program called 'Polynesian Pathways' so he can embrace his Tongan heritage. Professor Dinham says the problem with programs like this, which do happen in schools across Australia, is that they're shallow and meaningless. 'What he really needed to do was deeply engage with Polynesian culture, which is a very rich one, and through that be challenged and really get some depth out of it,' Professor Dinham said. 'But unfortunately a lot of things that we do because of time and pressures and often a lack of resources and skills is fairly tokenistic.'"[15]

Ja'mie, Jonah[edit]

  • Ryan Shelton (co-wrote WCBH, helped develop characters including Ja'mie: "Chris goes out and meets people his characters are like and he makes studies of them, takes notes or interviews people and sometimes films them. He watches those videos over and over and over and I'm sure he's done it with Jonah. You watch him, the way he moves and all the little nuances. He's fidgety, he's always touching something or fiddling with it in that ADD way and you know he's spoken with kids and studied them. We'd spend two hours a day on Ja'mie, talking about what schoolgirls do - his personal experiences, what I remembered from school. He did so much research, meeting private high school girls or just eavesdropping on them. He had an idea of what she would be like and he wouldn't have thrown himself into a character like that unless he knew exactly how to play her convincingly."[16]


  • "So impressive was Lilley that when he performed on radio as schoolgirl character Ja'mie King, he sparked outrage from listeners who thought Ja'mie was a genuine Australian of the Year contender. A caller identified as Michael called Nova radio station to say: 'It's a sad day for Australia when a person like Ja'mie can be nominated for Australian of the Year. It's great that she supports the kids overseas, but going on the 40-Hour Famine to hide your eating disorder is sad.' Another radio interview prompted listener Nick to write: 'Finally, a girl with both looks and a heart of gold. Can I get her number?'"[2]
  • Lilley: "The gay community loves (We Can Be Heroes' competitive roller) Pat Mullins and Ja'mie. I wrote some stuff for a gay magazine as Ja'mie that went down really well. I did wonder when I did We Can Be Heroes whether it would get a massive gay following but I don't think it has, really. I get 60-year-old women coming up to me, they're my people."[1]

Tripod Versus the Dragon[edit]


Yon, Scod, Gatesy and Elana are gathered for a session of Dungeons & Dragons. Elana, the Dungeon Master, begins by setting the scene. At the dawn of time, the Tree of Knowledge grows lush and beautiful. There is great power in her every leaf, and she is as yet unsullied, untouched by human hands — until one day two men intrude on her domain, greedy for her magic, and rip a branch from her trunk. The wound from the stolen branch festers, and from it falls a single drop of blood. Where the blood touches the ground, a dragon is born, bound to be the tree's protector and charged with the duty of killing any man who seeks to enter the grove. As millennia pass, the Dragon continues to carry out her bloody task, and her loneliness grows ("Dawn of Time").

Returning to the present day, Elana informs the trio that their characters are best friends who grew up in the small village of Pants-Bloometh-in-the-Springtime. At this point, Gatesy (who is new to Dungeons & Dragons) comes to the realisation that the whole game revolves around "making shit up" and that he can do whatever he wants. He decides that he wants to busk, earning derision from his teammates. Elana allows it, however, and although Gatesy proves to be an untalented musician, at the end of his performance he finds three copper pieces in his lute case, as well as a map. The group discover that one section of the map is blank, and decide to explore the uncharted territory ("The Smell of Adventure"). Before they set out, they must roll their stats and determine their character classes. Scod decides to be a wizard, and Yon makes his character a priest. Gatesy wants to be a bard, but the other two inform him that "bards are shit" and that he has to be a fighter so that their party is balanced.

The trio walk out the door, only to be attacked by an orc. They slay it easily, however Gatesy is traumatised at having killed another living being ("Taking the Life"). At a nearby inn, they encounter a beautiful woman (Stone) who sings of the Dragon and her duty ("Ivory Tower"). She tells an infatuated Gatesy that the party's quest will lead them to the Tree of Knowledge and certain doom, while strongly implying that she is in fact the Dragon who guards the tree; however, Gatesy has low intelligence and does not understand her warnings.

The three continue on their journey. Scod gets separated from the group when he falls into a dungeon, where he meets the Twin Wizards (Hall and Gates), a pair of evil mages. The Twin Wizards tempt Scod with the promise of power, telling him that if he kills the Dragon he will receive a wizard's hat of his own. They give him a spear fashioned from the Tree of Knowledge in order to accomplish this task. Meanwhile, in the grove of the Tree of Knowledge, the Dragon confesses her love for Gatesy and laments that she must kill him ("On Paper"). Scod is reunited with the party, and together they set sail across the ocean while Gatesy sings a song he has written for his beloved ("Gelatinous Love"). Their boat is battered by the storm and they are shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. They realise they have found their destination.

Suddenly, the Dragon attacks. Scod prepares to fight it but loses his nerve, and instead thrusts the spear into a reluctant Gatesy's hands. However, the moment Gatesy spears the Dragon, she turns back into a woman, and with horror he realises that he has killed his beloved. Scod receives his wizard's hat and becomes a powerful mage, and the trio return home victorious, however Gatesy is wracked by grief ("Taking the Life (Reprise)"). In his dreams, he is haunted by the Dragon ("Don't Feel Bad"). Meanwhile, Yon berates Scod for his selfishness and cowardice and Scod, realising the error of his ways, leaves to confront the Twin Wizards—but not before conjuring a map to the Underworld for Gatesy, so that he can rescue the Dragon.

Scod faces the Twin Wizards, and with Yon's help is able to defeat them. Meanwhile, Gatesy confronts Hades (Edgar) in the Underworld and seeks to convince him to release the Dragon through song. Unfortunately, as he has low intelligence, he sings a song about how he believes he will never die ("Heart of a Fighter"), earning the scorn of the Lord of the Dead, who sneers that Gatesy "[is] no bard". However, with the Dragon's encouragement, Gatesy goes on to sing a ballad ("I Will Still Play") which softens Hades' heart and earns the Dragon's freedom. Together, they return to the world of the living—only to be confronted by the orc Gatesy killed.

At this point, Yon's wife arrives and the game breaks up. Gatesy wants to know whether he won, and Scod explains that the game isn't really about winning.


  • Dawn of Time — Tripod
  • The Smell of Adventure — Tripod
  • Taking the Life — Gatesy
  • Ivory Tower — The Dragon
  • On Paper — The Dragon
  • Gelatinous Love — Tripod
  • Taking the Life (Reprise) — Gatesy
  • Don't Feel Bad — The Dragon and Gatesy
  • Heart of a Fighter — Gatesy
  • I Will Still Play — Gatesy
  • Bard — Tripod


Representations in legends[edit]

In Irish legends, Badb was associated with war and death, appearing either to foreshadow imminent bloodshed or to participate in battles, where she created confusion among the soldiers and fed on the discord of the conflict. As a harbinger of doom, she appears in a number of different guises. In Togail Bruidne Dá Derga, she takes the form of an ugly hag who prophesies Conaire Mór's downfall.[17] She appears in a similar guise in Togail Bruidne Da Choca to foretell the slaying of Cormac Condloinges, as well as taking the form of a "washer at the ford"—a woman washing Cormac's chariot and harness in a ford in what was considered an omen of death.[17][18] The cries of Badb may also be an ill omen: Cormac's impending death is foreshadowed with the words "The red-mouthed badbs will cry around the house,/For bodies they will be solicitous" and "Pale badbs shall shriek".[19] In this role she has much in common with the bean-sídhe.[20]

She was also regularly depicted as an active participant in warfare; indeed, the battlefield was sometimes referred to as "the garden of the Badb".[21] During the First Battle of Mag Tuired, Badb—along with her sisters, Macha and Morrígan—fights on the side of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Using their magic, the three sisters incite fear and confusion among the Fir Bolg army, conjuring "compact clouds of mist and a furious rain of fire" and allowing their enemies "neither rest nor stay for three days and nights".[22] Badb plays a similar role in the Táin Bó Cúailnge, terrorising and disorienting the forces of Queen Medb and causing many to fall on their own weapons.[19] She would often take the form of a screaming raven or crow, striking fear into those who heard her,[23] and could also be heard as a voice among the corpses on a battlefield.[17]

Following the defeat of the Formorians in the Second Battle of Mag Tuired, Badb prophesies the end of the world, declaring:

I shall not see a world that will be dear to me.

Summer without flowers,
Kine will be without milk,
Women without modesty,
Men without valour,

Captures without a king.[24]


Badb was often identified as one of the Morrígna, a trio of Irish war goddesses, although there exist a number of conflicting accounts on this subject. In Lebor Gabála Érenn, Badb, Macha and Morrígan make up the Morrígna trinity and are named as daughters of the goddess Ernmas. According to this version, she is also the sister of Ériu, Banba and Fódla, the three matron goddesses of Ireland.[25] Other accounts identify the trio as daughters of the druid Cailitin and his wife.[26]

Lebor Gabála Érenn also states that Badb is one of the two wives of the war god Neit.[25] Less commonly, she has been described as the wife of the Fomorian king Tethra.[20]

Similar deities[edit]

In her role as a terrifying battlefield goddess and harbinger of doom, Badb closely resembles Nemain, and indeed the two may be one and the same. Like Badb, Nemain is identified as a wife of Neit and is sometimes listed as one of the three Morrígna. Writers would sometimes use their names interchangeably, suggesting that they may in fact be a single goddess.[20] On the other hand, W.M. Hennessy notes that Badb and Nemain were said to have different sets of parents, suggesting that they may not be entirely identical figures.[19]

Badb also appears to be closely related to the Gaulish goddess Catubodua, or Bodua.[20]

  • Representations in legends
  • Nature and functions
  • Kinship
  • Etymology
  • Places associated with Badb
  • Goddess of:
    • Sorcery, war and death[23]
    • One of the three Morrigna along with Morrigan and Macha[20]
  • War goddess:
    • Often taking the form of a screaming raven or crow, she terrifies and demoralizes warriors in battle[23]
    • "A supernatural woman, perhaps a goddess or demon, who frequents places of battle, both before and after conflict ... an evil personality who delights in slaughter. She incites armies against one another and fills warriors with fury."[20]
    • "She appears as a woman promising victory to the Dagda before the Second Battle of Mag Tuired"[20]
    • First Battle of Mag Tuired: "It was then that Badb and Macha and Morrigan ... sent forth magic showers of sorcery and compact clouds of mist and a furious rain of fire, with a downpour of red blood from the air on the warriors’ heads; and they allowed the Fir Bolg neither rest nor stay for three days and nights."[22]
    • Second Battle: prophesied the end of the world.[24]
    • In the Táin Bó Cúailnge: "Badb and Bé Néit and Némain shrieked above them that night in Gáirech and Irgáirech so that a hundred of their warriors died of terror."[27]
    • "In the account of the massacre of the Irish Kings by the Aithech-tuatha, preserved in the Book of Fermoy, it is stated that after the massacre ... 'Gory Badb was joyful, and women were sorrowful, for that conflict.'"[19]
    • "in the battle of Almha (or the Hill of Allen, near Kildare), fought in the eyar 722, between Murchadh, king of Laighen, and Ferghal, monarch of Ireland, where 'the red- mouthed, sharp-beaked badb croaked over the head of Ferghal,'"[19]
  • Harbinger of death:
    • "In later Irish folklore Badb appears to have lent much to the figure of badhbh chaointe [Ir., keening or weeping crow], a figure who haunts battlefields and may presage death. In this function she has much in common with the banshee."[20]
    • harbinger of death by battle; may appear as a "washer at the ford" or a mysterious visitor prophesying evil - in Togail Bruidne Da Derga a woman comes to the hostel prophesying Conaire Mór's downfall; Badb is one of her many names[17]
    • Her appearance is an evil omen[17]
    • Sometimes conflated with the banshee, weeping over battlefields and sometimes predicting death by wailing before a battle or appearing as a washer at the ford.[26]
    • In Togail Bruidne Da Choca she appears as a "washer at the ford", washing the chariot and harness of a king doomed to die.[18]
    • "In the Irish tales of war and battle, the Badb is always represented as foreshadowing, by its cries, the extent of the carnage about to take place, or the death of some eminent personage."[19].
  • Forms:
    • voice among the corpses on the battlefield in the Táin Bó Cúailnge[17]
    • A red woman washing a chariot in a ford and a dark, lame, one-eyed old hag in the Togail Bruidne Da Choca[17]
    • A pale, fair woman in Tochmarc Ferbe[17]
  • Family:
    • Wife of Neit[23]
    • "daughter of either Cailitin or Ernmas and the wife or granddaughter of Néit. Sometimes Néit is described as having two wives, Nemain and Badb, but Badb's place may be taken by Fea. Less commonly, Badb may be the wife of Tethra."[20]
  • Similar/equivalent/related goddesses:
    • "Nemain, perhaps an aspect of Badb, is sometimes also in the trio; she is another battle-goddess who is also married to Néit. In addition Badb appears to be closely related to the Gaulish battle-goddess whose name is reported as Bodua, Catubodua, or Cauth Bova."[20]
  • Place names:
    • "Her name is commemorated in the Co. Kerry townland of Lisbabe [Ir. lios baidbhe, Badb's fort], near Aghadoe, named for the ancient ruin once thought to be Badb's residence."[20]
  • Badb in the Book of Invasions:
    • "Ernmas had other three daughters, Badb and Macha and Morrigu, whose name was Anand."
    • "Badb and Macha, greatness of wealth, Morrigu--/springs of craftiness,/sources of bitter fighting /were the three daughters of Ernmas. "
    • "Net son of Indui and his two wives, /Badb and Neman"[25]
  • Badb in The Courtship of Ferb:
    • " a fair woman who came to him as he lay on his couch. Her bearing was the bearing of a queen; her hair was golden and wavy"
    • “In seven years from this night,” said the lady, “shall the Raid of the Kine of Cualgne be accomplished, and the land of Ulster shall be laid waste, and the Dun Bull of Cualgne shall be driven off ... Make ready,” said she, “three times fifty of the men of the Fomorians to match them, and victory shall be with thee.”
    • Prophesies the death of Mani, son of Medb[28]
  • Badb in the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh:
    • "It was then that Badb and Macha and Morrigan went to the Knoll of the Taking of the Hostages, and to the Hill of Summoning of Hosts at Tara, and sent forth magic showers of sorcery and compact clouds of mist and a furious rain of fire, with a downpour of red blood from the air on the warriors’ heads; and they allowed the Fir Bolg neither rest nor stay for three days and nights."
    • Fathach: "The Red Badb will thank them for the battle-combats I look on."
    • "the three sorceresses, Badb, Macha and Morigan"[22]
  • Badb in Togail Bruidne Da Choca:
    • “The red-mouthed Badbs will cry around the house,/For bodies they will be solicitious.”
    • "Pale badbs shall shriek." --foretelling the impending death of Cormac Condloinges[19]

Melbourne International Comedy Festival[edit]

  • When: End of March to roughly the end of April, in venues all over the city.[29]
  • Typically opens on April Fool's Day, running for three weeks.[30]


  • Began in 1987 as an initiative of the Victorian Tourism Commission, which remains its principle source of government support.[30]
  • Originally centred on the Universal and Athenaeum Theatres but shifted its epicentre to the newly-refurbished Melbourne Town Hall in the early 1990s and then spread out again to include a strong program at the Melbourne Trades Hall as well.[30]
  • Mainly a vehicle for stand-up comedy and cabaret acts from all over Australia as well as the USA, Ireland, the UK, Canada and New Zealand, but its ever-growing program typically lists dozens of so-called "theatre" acts - mostly cabaret and sketch comedy.[30]
    • Most famous of these was Wogs Out of Work, whose "strictly limited three-week season" in 1987 extended on and off for over a decade with sequels and spin-offs.[31]
  • After several small-scale attempts the Melbourne International Comedy Festival launched in 1987 with the backing of the Victorian state government. The festival’s patron was Sir Les Patterson and the guest-of-honour was British comic legend Peter Cook.[32]
    • Other highlights of the first Melbourne International Comedy Festival included performances by the Doug Anthony Allstars, Wogs Out of Work, Gerry Connolly, Los Trios Ringbarkus and Rod Quantock’s Bus Show.[32]
  • Opened with only 56 events in 1987. By 1999, was playing host to over 120 and was being attended by some 350,000 annually.[32]
  • John Pinder, joint founder: "the original idea for an international comedy festival came from a Last Laugh season five years earlier which was a sort of mini festival of overseas comics... we ran a couple of similar seasons in subsequent years and in 1986 I persuaded the Victorian Tourism Commission to give me some money to visit festivals overseas and investigate the possibility of a comedy festival in Melbourne. I came back convinced it would work and put together a report for the state government which they accepted. The next year we had a comedy festival on our hands."[33]
  • Among top 3 comedy festivals in the world, along with Edinburgh and Montreal. Each has its own style, Melbourne is generally regarded as the least commercial and most eccentric.[34]
  • Pinder - tends to be more diverse. Stronger visual component than other festivals - 1988 exhibition examining the depiction of Indigenous Australians by white artists (subsequently went on a national tour), popular Leunig exhibition in 1990.[35]
  • Tradition of experimenting with unusual venues for comedy - "Storming Mount Albert By Tram, Rod Quantock's "Bus" tours - mobile theatre with audience as passengers.[35]
  • Raw Comedy (w/ Triple J) - best new amateurs and novices.[36]
  • Diversity of performances - sketch shows, plays, improv, pantomimes, debates, musical shows, bus tour.[36]



  • Idea was conceived in the summer of 1993. The Late Show had just finished, were looking for a new TV project.[37]
  • Around this time they saw a 60 Minutes special posing the question "has the media gone too far?". One man, a widower who had lost his wife in a shark attack asked "why were he and his family subjected to the horror of current affairs and journalism, to the relentless questions, the unfettered and voyeuristic invasion of his very private grief? ... Well, a lot of journos looked concerned and muttered a few platitudes about 'the public's got a right to know' and 'freedom of the press'. But no one there that night answered his simple question. So we thought we'd have a go."[37]
  • ABC was the only network that could broadcast Frontline. Kennedy: "Because Frontline was to be about the kind of current affairs programs you see on commercial networks, we could only do justice to what we wanted if we were on the ABC."[38]
  • Bob Donoghue, ABC's Network Programmer at the time: "the best idea I'd ever heard for a program, coming from the best group of people I'd ever worked with. I don't think there was a moment's hesitation about doing it."[39]


  • "Whenever we thought our ideas for Frontline plots might be a little far-fetched, we would meet someone in the industry who convinced us we had not, in fact, gone far enough.[37]
  • Kennedy: "It wasn't like we started off doing any specific research. I mean we're media junkies anyway."[39]
  • Kennedy had worked as a reporter on Body and Soul where she had been "taught by the best of them" to "walk and talk" and "do noddies" - devices used to make the interviewer seem authoritative and in control; applied to Brooke.[39]
  • Gleisner - to ensure the episodes had the requisite degree of dramatic integrity, the writers used a great deal of restraint in scripting jokes. They would deliberately keep early script drafts joke-free, only adding some jokes in at the final stages, once everyone was happy with the dramatic structure of the episode.[39]
  • Blurring the line between comedy and drama - casting of dramatic actors/actors best known for dramatic work alongside comedians such as Sitch and Cilauro.[39]
  • High-profile cameos
    • Then-embattled opposition leader John Hewson appeared in episode one. "Thoroughly enjoyed" his appearance because "it was the only time in my life where I got even with the media."[40]
    • Cheryl Kernot appearance - "one of the most hilarious things that ever happened to me."[40]


  • Scod: "Tripod basically used to be the Chipmunks. We had the same-coloured shirts. We were somewhere between the Chipmunks and the Wiggles, which represented us reasonably accurately at the start. But as we evolved the costumes didn't, so we decided to ditch them."
  • Scod, on music vs. comedy: "Where's your priority? Is it making good music or is it making people laugh? That's always the challenge. Often they're at direct odds with each other and you have to make that hard decision: 'I don't like that musically, but it serves the joke better.' That happens all the time. We make that choice every day."
  • Began performing quirky covers - eg. reggae version of Throw Your Arms Around Me.


  • Song in an Hour Challenge on Triple J breakfast show - challenged to write a song in an hour, with the topic and style chosen by the hosts.
  • CD - About an Hour of Song-in-an-Hour (2002)
  • Regular performers at MICF since 1997.
  • Began as a cover band performing at a Yarraville hotel - Yon recalls their takes on covers were "always a bit wacky", given all three had backgrounds in theatre. Humorous choreography etc. Scod: "Really, what we were, were cabaret."


  • Got their start supporting a range of suburban cover bands while they were attending Monash Uni in Melbourne.
  • 2005 - ARIA award for best comedy act.
  • Appeared on SkitHOUSE.


  • Started out busking and playing in pubs.
  • Yon: "Topicality is still our weakness."


Paul McDermott[edit]

  • Does not consider any topic out of bounds in terms of comedy. "Which is one of my problems. But talking about issues is what enables us to understand them. Even if it's a panel of comedians discussing it, at least someone's doing it."


Good News Week[edit]

  • Paul describing his role: "I'm sort of judge, jury and executioner."


  • Writing staff of original series included Rachel Spratt, Ian Simmons and Patrick Cook.


  • Recorded episodes from the Melbourne Town Hall during the MICF.


  • Ted Robinson's advice to guests: "Don't be afraid to jump in. An amusing wrong answer is as interesting to me as a right, dull answer."


  • McDermott on the move to Ten: "If we'd stayed at the ABC, we'd have become comfy and cosy and not tried as hard, which would have been the death of a program like ours. ... Also, at the ABC you're a contained voice, to a certain extent. You're preaching to the converted. the real adventure now is seeing who wants it, who rejects it, who finds it offensive, who disagree, so you can form some dialogue with a wider community. Some of the stuff we're doing now is more aggressive and more confrontationist than it's ever been. It's a different market now. That, to me, is more enjoyable. ... Even when we felt we may have stepped over the mark, Ten have often encouraged us."


Shaun Micallef[edit]

  • Married (wife Leandra, three children).


  • While at university, he frequently wrote and appeared in revues.


  • Considers himself "more of a comic actor" than a comedian.


  • 2003 Australian Comedy Award for Most Outstanding Humorous Columnist.
  • Writer for Full Frontal and Jimeoin.


Tim Minchin[edit]

  • Official site info - back up with secondary sources if possible.
  • TV credits - Comedy Shuffle, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The World Stands Up, Comedy Cuts (UK); Spicks and Specks, The Sideshow (Australia)
  • He has appeared on British and Australian radio and has recorded two specials for BBC Radio 2.
  • 2 live comedy albums and a DVD.
  • Theatre - played the title roles in Hamlet and Amadeus (Perth Theatre Co), Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and the writer in Reg Cribb's The Return.
  • Written a musical play (Pop – a Tragically Musical Romantic Black Comedy)
  • Doco - "Rock n Roll Nerd" premiered at MIFF.


  • Drama elements of his shows - "I come from a theatre background in Australia, so I’ve always been aware of having a presence and an individual style, so that’s why I have the hair and eye make-up. The personality and the stage persona just grew and grew."
  • Played Amadeus and Hamlet for the Perth Theatre Company and the Australian Shakespeare Company.


  • "I came into all of it so naively. I'd never been to see a live comedy gig before my first one-hour show. I'm not really a comedy consumer. I didn't even really think what I was doing was stand-up. Genres don't really matter. What I was, was a frustrated actor and muso with, as it turns out, something satirical to say. I stuck all of that together, and found my own individual way to entertain."


  • "I'm obsessed by beliefs and logic and stuff. Over the last couple of years I've spent a lot of time trying to read a bit about the universe and I think what I'm doing is bringing the normal foibles and quirks of everyday life a kind of nerdy, slightly autistic, counting-cards sort of feel."


  • "I tend to exploit the failed rock star thing in my comedy, but actually what I am is an actor/musician who took a long time to realise how to put all the bits together. In hindsight, I guess my strengths have always been songwriting and performing. The comedic side was always there but I didn’t think to focus on it."
  • "All religion should always be a target. There's never a time when religion should be off-limits to satirists. It's one of the biggest, most powerful and influential forces in the world, and it's ridiculous and damaging hypocrisy needs to be pointed out over and over again. It's just a matter of finding ways to do it that are interesting. Obviously the positive attributes of religion are substantial too, but talking about them is not in my job description."


Josh Thomas[edit]

  • CV info - back up with secondary sources if possible.
  • This was followed by 6 weeks touring with the Comedy Festival Roadshow and an invitation to perform at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal in July.
  • Performed at professional Comedy Clubs around Australia including Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.
  • Currently runs Livewired, a comedy room in Brisbane’s Powerhouse Centre for the Arts, every Sunday evening.


Frank Woodley[edit]

  • Possessed - "It's really not dissimilar to the Lano & Woodley style, but maybe there's a bit more set stuff and a few more props."


  • Anxiety about first solo show - "It was difficult at first. I think I was trying a bit too hard. It was this sort of neurotic thing – 'Maybe I'm just not interesting enough as myself,' rather than having faith in the ideas and letting them either fly or fail based on their merit."


  • Awards - the Mo for comedy group of the year in 2002


  • "If I was offered something serious, I'd do it ... because that’s an experience to have. I just love comedy so much. It’s my calling. But I haven’t had any serious offers."


Hamish Blake[edit]

  • TV appearances - TGYH, Spicks and Specks
  • Tom Gleisner - "Hamish is definitely one of the most exciting performers to have appeared in the last few years. Impish charm, boyish good looks, a relatively crime-free background; it's the perfect package."
  • "I think I'm quite the atheist. As a kid, I looked at various spiritual beliefs and went, 'I just don't buy that'."
  • Father Noel, a one-time cattleman turned farm sprinkler installer.
  • Channel 31 - Radio Karate. "We'd do live sketches and hidden camera and other pre-recorded stuff."
  • Rejected an overture from Seven's Dancing With The Stars. "I guess it's down to what you find creatively stimulating," he says. "I much more enjoy doing shows that I watch."


  • Today Network drive-time radio show in 2006; quickly gained popularity, finishing 2006 with almost one million Melbourne listeners, ahead of 3AW's Derryn Hinch.
  • Mockumentary seen by Rove McManus. This led to small spots on Rove Live while McManus's company, Roving Enterprises, helped them develop Real Stories, their mock current affairs show that aired in 2006 on Channel 10.
  • Real Stories was a "passion project" that took over their lives.
  • "We'd work on it from six until six and then edit from seven until 11. It was like keeping 800 balls in the air at once."


  • Rundle describes their comedy as that of everyday life, such as why guys beep their car horns at women, popular culture and television. "It's about the absurdity and quirkiness of everyday life," he explains.


Doug Anthony All Stars[edit]

  • Busking. Richard: "We found that just doing songs wasn't enough. You had to do something that was theatrical and funny to get people's attention. So one of the ways we got people to look at us was by walking out onto the street and stopping all the traffic."
  • Before long, crowds gathered regularly every Saturday to watch the boys. 1986 - took act to Adelaide Fringe where they won the Pick of the Fringe Award.
  • Paul: "We like to push people to the limit, and when it comes right down to it, people do laugh. If you're offended, don't laugh!"


  • Paul: "Being provocative emerged out of busking, where you're always trying to grab people's attention. Even in the early days of playing clubs no-one knew who we were. Sometimes we have to do really ugly or horrendous things to get people's attention, and we're not afraid to do that. We'll hit someone if it gets a bit of discourse going."
  • Met in Canberra where they were all studying - Richard at ANU, Paul at the Canberra School of Art and Tim at the School of Music.
  • Edinburgh Fringe 1987.
  • Richard: "Travelling our of Australia confirmed to us that we were on the right track. At the time we first left Australia we had very little success here and the British were far more receptive to what we were doing. The whole thing exploded for us when we got there, it was quite incredible. Within a very short time we were doing national television appearances in front of millions of people and playing these enormous shows."
  • Played extensively in Canada, Germany, America and Britain; returned to Australia at the end of 1988.
  • Big Gig. Tim Ferguson: "Their audacity is what immediately appealed to me. They were brash and loud... I think basically a nice bunch of conservative kids who were prepared to get right out on the edge and take a chance. They're eclectic, wide-ranging and very original. I also suspect that a lot of what they do goes over the heads of their audience. They'll probably hate me for saying it, but they're amongst the most professional people I've dealt with. Their act seems to be full of anarchy but in fact their work is very structured. They know exactly what they're doing and where they're going - more so than any other group of young people I've ever worked with."
  • Book. Richard - "All of us had stories we wanted to write. "A lot of it had been written as much as five years ago, before we even began performing. So basically we all wrote our own stories and pieced them together around the narrative."
  • Paul - "People have wrongly assumed that we're putting out a book to cash in on the fame of The Big Gig, but this book was commission largely written before the show went to air.
  • Tim - "We wanted to do something that people who had never seen us live would be able to pick up and enjoy... or be disturbted by. You don't have to be familiar with our "concept" to pick up the book. We wanted to do something that would stand alone."
  • Characters. Tim - "It's something that's occurred organically over the past eighteen months. Once we started noticing it, we began to conscious develop it to the point where Paul's nasty and mean, Richard's really nice and caring and I'm... ah... gorgeous but stupid."


  • Returned from success overseas in 1988 only to struggle in Australia, until The Big Gig. Tim - "We sold out venues in London and performed really well at the Edinburgh Festival, but when we came back to Australia it was as if no one would believe us."


  • Paul: "The press over there loved us in a way that we had never been loved in Australia. There was a lot of rejection of what we were doing in Australia when we first started. People saw us as being violent and aggressive. There was pressure on us not to play certain venues, to conform to a comedy type and tone it down.[71]
  • Mark Trevorrow: "I think there was true genius at work with that pack. Their great shows were among the greatest evenings I've witnessed in my life and their worst shows were among the worst ... They'd whip up an audience and appeal to people's darker side. It was very Dada, what they were doing. And what happens with that is you're just as often likely to have people who want to kill you as applaud you."[72]
  • Paul: "The only thing I would insist on in negotiations for any project was that we were given complete freedom to say what we wanted to say. That was something Tim, Richard and I had all agreed on before we started working ... at the end of the day, it's important to know that you haven't compromised your integrity."[72]
  • Paul: Only reason DAAS got on The Big Gig was that Ted Robinson had seen them on Friday Night Live.[72]
  • "Ted didn't even know we were Australian. He thought we were New Zealanders."[72]


  • Songs ranging in style from reggae to rap, from rock to funk.
  • Festival director Susan Provan: "It was just so different from anything I had seen. It was so fresh, an amazing piece of work."
  • Bennetto: "I think the main thing was that there was a large amount of sympathy for the idea of a show about Keating, or a show celebrating what he stood for: Aboriginal reconciliation, republic, moving Australia forward socially. I know there were a lot of people who were really cheesed off with the current political climate. They wanted to go to something like Keating! and go: 'YEAH!'"


  • The music ranges from bossa nova to blues, samba to soul, reggae to rap and beer-barrel waltz to swing.
  • Characters include an ineffectual John Hewson, a kinky Alexander Downer, John Howard in a variety of guises, Gareth Evans in a safari suit and the only female character, Cheryl Kernot, in that unforgettable red dress.
  • Bennetto: "Don Watson's Recollections of a Bleeding Heart had come out, and the tale of Keating had a bit of a spotlight on it . . . It really appealed that he was the Placido Domingo of Australian politics. And I admired the notion that intellectuality wasn't something to be ashamed of . . . He talked about reconciliation, the need to increase our involvement with Asia – big-picture stuff – and at the time, not the most popular of ideas."
  • "And it all rests on McLeish's amazing performance. He understood that for it to work comedically, it had to be played straight. Even when he was doing gags, you had to believe he was devastated at the Kirribilli agreement."


  • John Clarke as dramaturg, John O'Connell (Moulin Rouge, Shall We Dance?) as choreographer.


  • Inspired by 2004 election and lack of colourful characters in contemporary politics.


  • Brendan Coustley (Hewson and Downer): "In some ways it's a rock opera but it does cross over in so many directions into pop music, rock music even reggae. When I come out of the stage door I hear people singing bits of it so it gets stuck in people's heads."
  • Coustley: "There seems to be something in it for everybody. This new version has been tightened up with choreography and has more songs than the original so is more of a show now. But even though it's bigger it still hangs on to the simplicity of that revue style, they haven't overcomplicated it at all."
  • Coustley re: On The Floor: "The lyrics are all things that were said by them and used verbatim."


  • Bennetto: McLeish understood the importance of playing Keating straight and maintaining the emotional integrity of the character.


Mikey Robins[edit]

Richard Fidler[edit]

Tim Ferguson[edit]

The Late Show[edit]

  • Tony Martin (1992) - "As soon as you have a wacky name, that puts a bit of pressure on. But with a name like The Late Show, people will think, 'That sounds pretty crappy.' It's a matter of lowering expectations."[79]
  • Mick Molloy (1992) - "What you see on screen on Saturday night, we've only seen for the first time three hours before in dress rehearsal. We fly by the seat of our pants."[79]
  • Regular segments: News desk (Tom Gleisner, comedic take on politics and current events), Countdown Classics (Gleisner and Kennedy dissect unintentionally humourous pop videos from the late 1970s), Shitscared (Rob Sitch, inept stuntsman), Graham and the Colonel (Sitch and Cilauro, sportscaster characters),[79]
  • Despite mixed reactions from critics in the beginning, the show gained a devoted young national audience.[80]
  • Ended after series 2, D-Gen cited fatigue and creative differences as the reason for the series demise.[80]
  • Lead-up: "There’s been no great fanfare about the debut of this one, but Aunty’s promoting it as a topical, satirical and light-hearted look at the week’s events. ... According to the publicity handout 'as part of the Opposition’s Youth Training Wage Scheme, cast members will receive $3 a joke'.[81]
  • "ABC, in its bounteous wisdom, has quietly slotted in a program called D-Gen, The Late Show at 10pm on Saturday night with not a word of publicity, which is a shame, because the one episode I’ve seen was very funny."[82]
  • "The ratings – peaking in the low teens – have pleased the ABC. Aunty had originally signed the D-Generation for a 10-week season, but has now commissioned 12 more shows."[83]
  • "Critics have accused The Late Show of bad taste. A sketch showing the Pope’s buttocks after a recent operation caused a stir. The D-Gen also sparked a 30-minute radio talk-back after a skit about the Queen Mother. Kennedy said: 'We showed stock footage of the Queen Mother receiving a bunch of flowers.' The cameras then panned to a little girl holding a card, saying: 'Die you old bag.' 'My grandmother who loves the Queen Mum thought it was one of the funniest things she had seen.'"[83]
  • "The humor, too, hasn't passed without controversy, with comedian Rob Sitch's portrayal of gushing Bruce McAvaney reporting from war-torn Bosnia a bit much for some. 'The actual satirical point we were making was the media’s handling of it (the war coverage),' Kennedy defends."[84]

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General refs[edit]

  • Punch lines: twenty years of Australian comedy, Richard Harris - 791.45617 HARR / Arts AO 791.45617 H24P
  • Frontline : the story behind the story -- behind the stories - Arts AO 791.4572 F92V
  • BRISBANE, Katharine, Entertaining Australia, Currency Press, Sydney, 1991 - city 790.20994 ENT / Arts Reference AR 790.20994 EN8B
  • BRAMWELL, Murray & MATTHEWS, David, Wanted for Questioning: Interviews with Australian Comic Artists, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1992 - LTRR LT 792.23092 B73W
  • Comedians in the mist : the serious business of being funny in Australia / by Geoff Bartlett - Arts AO 792.230994 B28C