It has occurred to me that while all the comedians I have talked about thus far have large followings in Australia, none of them are actually Australian. Time to rectify this, by introducing one of my absolute favourites, Shaun Micallef. And what better way to begin this blog post than to show one of the funniest clips from my favourite of all his television shows, The Micallef Programme. The sketch is known as one of the (several) “tilted room” sketches, in which the room is tilted (but the camera angle is such that the viewer can’t tell except for the way gravity controls objects in the room):
While The Micallef Programme was the first series in which he was the star of the show, as it combined a mix of sketches and fake interviews (though often with real celebrities), Micallef’s comedy career began a few years earlier, in the mid 1990s on the infamous Full Frontal, where many other well known Aussies got their start (including Eric Bana, who is known to most of the world as a fairly big actor, but to Australians is known for his ridiculous characters from his comedy days). The show ran for several seasons, and Micallef was a dominant force on it very quickly, appearing in many of the show’s must loved sketches. Many of them would simply be making fun of aspects of Aussie culture and politics, such as this sketch in which he made fun of the British host of a show called Gardening Australia:
He went on to make several shows of his own, following up The Micallef Programme with Micallef Tonight, and later Newstopia, before becoming the host of the hugely successful Talkin’ Bout Your Generation, a family-aimed quiz show which turned him into a household name across the country. While long time fans (including myself) felt that he was not at his peak during these years, he did garner a lot of new fans, and was still very funny. Perhaps more importantly, he picked up awards for his work, gaining the recognition he deserved. And then he gave this hilarious speech upon winning one of his awards:
As you can probably see, he has a very unique style of comedy that is hard to actually pinpoint, but which really works. He has this naturally funny charisma – he barely has to open his mouth and people begin chuckling just from the anticipation of what he might possibly say. He has the ability to be very improvisational at times, which adds an air of inspired lunacy to his work. Lately he’s been working on a couple of projects, including a political affairs satire show called Mad As Hell which has been a return to form for him, showing he has many years left in the world of comedy. This last clip, however, is from his appearance on the last episode of a talk show fellow comedian Adam Hills briefly hosted in Australia, where for pretty much the entire 8 and a half minute segment Micallef just takes over and barely gives Hills a chance to get a word in. It seems to become funnier as it goes on – the last couple of minutes are fantastic, so make sure you watch it the whole way through.
What are your thoughts on Shaun Micallef? I’m particularly curious to hear thoughts from other Australians compared to people from elsewhere in the world!