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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thank The Lord For Your Presence # 8

Last night saw the eighth episode of Thank God You're Here (TGYH).

I was a little surprised to see Angus Sampson back for a fifth appearance. Don't get me wrong; I think he's good an' all, but I'd enjoy the concept a lot more if they were to juggle the victims contestants around a bit more and have them on for a total of perhaps three appearances per season. But maybe it's harder to come by willing celebrities who are available at the scheduled times or something, so fair enough.

Joining Angus this week were TGYH 'veteran' (of the past two weeks) Josh Lawson, and new-comers Hamish Blake (on the left of the picture) and Tanya Bulmer. Tanya was one female comedian I hadn't previously considered, but when she ran through her improv experience with host Shane Bourne at the top of the show, I was very impressed and glad they'd managed to 'book her in'. I've liked Hamish since he and his regular sparring partner Andy Lee (on the right of the picture) hosted the short-lived weekly comedy programme in the style of a tonight show on Channel Seven in 2004 creatively called Hamish & Andy ... featuring a pre-Deal or No Deal comedian Andrew O'Keefe. Unfortunately for the boys, their show didn't exactly take off, lasting just four episodes. But I've found both Blake and Lee quite amusing whenever I've seen them on anything since.

There is no doubt in my mind, though, that Josh Lawson was the stand-out performance of the night this week. Coming from (apparently) not knowing that his gun was a 'six-shooter' until Shane mentioned it seconds before he walked through the blue door, and becoming a western-cliché-regurgitating legend for the duration of his scene, he easily provided the most hilarious lines of the night. His kisses with actress Nicola Parry, his descriptions of the oft-misunderstood 'Wee Willy Wiley' tribe of Indians ("They're not so Willy, and they're kinda wee, but man, are they wiley!"), the names he came up with for his archnemisis and Maggie May (whose actual name, it turned out, was Trixie ... so he then called her Trixie-Maggie-May-Belle), and my favourite of them all; his insult to the nasty cowboy who had insulted him:

Cowboy: "You're about as yella as fresh-cut corn in the midday sun."
Josh: "Oh yeah?
Cowboy: "Yeah."
Josh: "Well you're about as mauve as the eyelashes on a pritty lil' Chinese girl."

Brilliant. He was also very funny with his 'fast talking' which ended the scene, and although his input into the group scene at the tail-end of the night (with the superhero theme) wasn't very much at all, his expertly-underplayed comment to judge Tom Gleisner: "I'm surprised you haven't heard of me" was a perfect moment. I haven't seen too much of Josh Lawson in the past (and what I've seen has featured him in dramatic roles), but I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of him in the future. I hope his role in Boytown is a comical one, and that he lands a lot more comic roles after appearing in TGYH.

Angus' scene in this episode was largely forgettable, as the CEO of a corrupt pie-making company being asked by his investors why they should continue to support him. He still had an occasional amusing comment such as saying that 'Ozzie Pies' were made in New Zealand, and when asked about the box saying 'Thailand', explaining that it's a little-known fact that there's a town on the north of the south island of NZ by that name. He was very game to eat one of the pies on display (who knew how old or questionable they were!), and his deciphering of the 'coded motto' of the company on the wall behind the investors was pure gold.

Tanya's first appearance on the show had her dressing up in a bridal gown, and making a joint speech with her new husband at their wedding reception. She showed her skill at improvising when he mentioned that she especially wanted to thank ... and she immediately came out with a rambling long list of girls' names. Turning on her two bridesmaids (once she found out they were her sisters) and clearly favouring one over the other was highly amusing, especially when she kept referring back to it. The talk of her third sister not being there due to "the car accident", and then her missing aunt being remembered as "the driver of the car" were risque but very well done. I don't think it was the funniest scene of the night by a long shot, but I certainly don't think that was Tanya's fault at all. It seems somehow that the creators of the show have trouble coming up with good situations for the female contestants. Is anybody else noticing that? I'm not saying the female contestants are to blame, because obviously that can't be the case every week. I think it might be that the boys who are sitting down thinking up the ideas for the scenes each week may struggle a bit when it comes to working out a good one for the female guest. But I digress. Tanya was very good and demonstrated her ability to ad lib with lightning speed, particularly when the groom said she chose not to put the words "love, honour and obey" in her vows, but rather ... "love, honour and eBay", she finished immediately.

Hamish Blake had his solo scene last, and came out dressed in an outfit that he perfectly described as "Bono the Vampire Slayer". Realising he was some kind of rock legend (which was helped along by Shane's spoily-question, "Are you ready to rock?"), Hamish entered the same late night TV show set we'd seen earlier in the series when Angus was a TV chef who appeared on the set with an entirely silent Natalie Bassingthwaighte from Neighbours. As there were two 'guest' chairs set up and both were empty, I assumed someone famous would be making a surprise entry during the scene ... and I was right. After being questioned about his duet with Kate Ceberano on his latest "billion-selling" album, Hamish was forced to welcome Kate to the stage so they could sing their duet live - which seconds earlier Hamish had made the mistake of titling "Pussycats and Angels". Once he stopped groping the singer in a prolonged embrace, and after he'd started the song without allowing her to sing the first line so he was forced to rhyme his second line to it, he eventually caught on to the idea and did a pretty impressive job of having the song make sense, rhyme, and stick (somewhat) to the theme of pussycats and angels. A tough scene, but one he handled fairly well.

As I mentioned, the group scene at the end was four superheroes being called to headquarters to discuss the threat of a meteor that had been discovered hurtling towards Earth. Apart from a couple of tiny moments (such as suggesting a "rope and pulley system" for moving Earth out of the meteor's path), Tanya and Josh seemed almost to disappear in this scene, as a lot of time was spent on Angus (either on his prop speaking piece which made it difficult to hear him, or his apparent incapacitation that actor Daniel Cordeaux had to overcome to get him back into the scene by 'healing him' with his mind and commanding him to stand up). Hamish also had some quality screen time during this scene; mostly as he called his mate 'Geoff' to see about moving Earth out of harm's way ("I know a guy"), and speaking into the laser contraption strapped to his wrist. When the 'bad guy' appeared on the large screen behind them, Josh claimed that the voice was Geoff, and that Hamish had left his wrist communication device 'on speakerphone'.

Most notable in this episode was that there were only two (instead of the regular three or four) pre-recorded bits. The one where the contestants had to make announcements (which hadn't been provided in full, leaving the contestants to be creative with how each one was supposed to finish) at the sports stadium wasn't very good, but the one where the contestant was the deputy or acting headmaster showing a prospective family around their school was highly amusing. The young girl in this bit, who also played the daughter in the pre-recorded pet shop bit a few weeks ago, was credited under a different surname this time, but I believe she is somehow related to Nicola Parry (presumably her daughter or niece).

While we're on the topic of the ensemble cast members, I must say that I think very highly of the extremely-talented Parry and Cordeaux, as well as Ed Kavalee and Heidi Arena. The others (such as Simon Dowling, Andrew Bayly, Jason Geary, Rebekah Foord and so on) are by no means any less impressive, but have simply not appeared in as many episodes. The skill it takes to keep a straight face while the contestant comes up with often ludicrous answers to the questions being put to them, as well as remembering all their own lines and gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) steering the scene in the direction in which it needs to be going -- and quickly -- is so much work, they all deserve more credit than they probably receive. I hope the audiences who are lucky enough to watch the live tapings at least get to show their appreciation to the ensemble cast after the taping has concluded, because apart from Shane mentioning Nicola Parry by name (although he mentioned her only as 'Nikki') after Josh's kissing scene with her, they don't get any of the attention. Obviously I understand why this is the case (the contestant is the celebrity we're meant to be focussing on), but the others all do such a remarkable and tough job that I wanted to credit them here briefly. As an aside, if you look at this page, where I grabbed Daniel and Nicola's photos, you'll see that both of them have acted before with both Andrew O'Keefe and Josh Lawson! Makes you wonder ...

So anyway, here are the main four, with no disrespect intended to the many other highly-talented individuals who make up the ensemble cast:

Nicola Parry

Daniel Cordeaux

Heidi Arena

Ed Kavalee

Sorry some of those photos are a bit poxy. They're not the easiest people to source pics of. And please pardon the poor grammar in the previous sentence.

With "only two episodes left until the season finale" (does that mean inclusive?), things are looking good that Judith Lucy won't be appearing on the show at all.

... Thank the Lord she's not gonna be there.



At Thursday, May 25, 2006 7:38:00 pm, Blogger audrey said...

I think Judith is very funny. I interviewed her once and she was lovely.

Meanwhile, I think it's shit they only have one girl on each week. It makes it appear very tokenistic. And I agree about the weird scenes with the women but I don't think that's necessarily due to scene issues. I do think that people in Australia (and maybe in the world, who knows) liken the word 'comedian' to 'man' and therefore find it difficult to accept female comdey as being as clever and funny as male comedy.

At Thursday, May 25, 2006 11:16:00 pm, Blogger Spankk said...

Yes, I think just about every female comedian I can think of is crap. Just my opinion

At Friday, May 26, 2006 12:11:00 am, Blogger Jellyfish said...

I watched for the first time this week, and it was a classic. That woman was very funny - I wish she'd had more to do - and the scene with them all showing the family around the school was brilliant. 'How do you handle giften children? ' 'Oh, we don't. No no - we're not allowed to *handle* the kids at all these days.'

I'm surprised you didn't notice, BEVIS, being the avid Neighbours fan you are - I'm pretty sure that kid is Isabella Oldham, who played a member of the ill-fated Hancock family. Remember them? They only lasted a few months on Ramsay St before being hastily dispatched to Albury or similar.

At Friday, May 26, 2006 12:20:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Audrey, despite Spankk's sarcasm, I want to make it known that I agree that it's weird how they always have three guys and one girl on the show. It's very formulaic, and in a bad way.

After doing eight episodes this way, if next week they suddenly had two or more females, many of us would look at it and (despite ourselves) think "ooh, that's strange" ... and of course there'd be nothing strange about it at all (in fact, it'd be a healthy change - and one that was a long time coming).

I put a lot of thought into that statement about the scenes being given to the girls not being as good as those given to the guys, and while I realise of course that there'll be exceptions, the following examples came to mind:

- Tanya's bridal reception scene
- Julia's radio interview scene
- Robyn's movie promotion scene
- Fifi's 'Pride & Prejudice' scene

Now, I repeat that I'm not woman-bashing, here. After all, I attributed the problem to the male writers of the show - not the female performers of the scenes in question.

I hope I haven't upset you or anything. I'm not sure if I'm meant to detect a veiled reference to myself in your statement about people who find it difficult to accept 'female comedy' as being as clever and funny as 'male comedy'. I really don't think that's the kind of person I am, myself - although I fully accept your point about it being a hard industry for women to be viewed as 'equally talented' as their male counterparts.

I don't wanna lose a blogger buddy over this or anything, so please accept my apology/retraction if it sounded like I was having a go at chick comedians in general!

Did you see my list of female comedians in last week's review, where I was trying to encourage Network Ten to enlist some more females? I'm all for it being two of each gender per show - anything to ensure we aren't getting the same people (of either gender) to appear too often.

As for Judith Lucy, I'm sure she's not the monster I keep making her out to be. I'm just having fun. I know she's a tough cookie and wouldn't care what I thought, if my 'slagging' of her ever happened to get back to her (not that I'm expecting it would - but just in case). I selected my 'mock-target' carefully, because despite everything, I'm a nice guy and don't actually want to offend her or anyone else. I mean no real ill to her, but I wanted a running gag and I picked someone I really don't like (but whose appearance on the show I half-expected at some point, given her association with the Working Dog crew). To be honest, I thought she'd appear in an episode at some point and I could rant and rave about it for humour's sake. But maybe that's not going to happen.

Either way, I know she's not the type of person to get upset over such a pitiful person as me making such a pitiful complaint about her as this, so that's why I chose her. It's true that I'm really not a fan of hers, but I harbour no legitimate grudges against her or anything.

It's all in jest!

... Oh, and Spankk, you're not helping. :)

At Friday, May 26, 2006 12:29:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Jellyfish, yes, you're right about the kid being Isabella Oldham from Neighbours. I was trying not to join the dots too much for the general public on the kid's full name (if you note my post, I specifically tiptoe around her surname), but I'm not sure why I was doing that, really.

It must be my training in working with kids - not putting their full details on the Internet or anything like that was sort of my automatic response.

But yes, of course - she's an actor and anyone who knew enough about her (you or me, for example) would have no problems at all working out who she was.

Also, she's listed in the show's credits.

But I think the fact that she was listed during her first appearance under a different surname, which indicated her relationship to Nicola (because both surnames were Parry), was part of why I was erring on the side of caution.

You know how it is - the 'Interweb' has creepy sorts out there when it comes to kiddies.

But hey - maybe the repetition of 'Parry' in the credits that week was a mistake.

Anyway, I'm glad you watched and enjoyed it, and yes - Tanya was very good. No argument here. She was on the winning Improv team for a reason - she's freakin' talented!

(Also, when Hamish introduced himself as the Acting Headmaster and then later the mother asked him about the school's drama program and he reminded them he was the *Acting* Headmaster, I thought that was very quick and clever!)

At Friday, May 26, 2006 7:32:00 am, Anonymous John B. said...

Do you mind if I nit-pick? You said that Lawson said, "Well you're about as mauve as the eyelashes on a pritty lil' Chinese girl." Whereas I believe he said, 'Asian' rather than 'Chinese'. I think it sounded funnier that way as well.

I'm going to comment on Tanya's work on the show and say that I agree that she didn't have a particularly good scene to work with. To be honest, after hearing her improv skills being praised at the start, I was disappointed with what she did. Then thinking back I really believe that some of the lines that were 'fed' to her to complete were pretty lame. I was also disppointed to see the return of the 'late show' sketch as I felt it was too soon to be reusing such ideas.

I really liked Hamish's trying to avoid the question about his qualifications in the deputy principal scene and his difficulty in spelling 'academic.' Even one of the ensemble cast was having difficulty in keeping it together at that.

At Friday, May 26, 2006 8:34:00 am, Blogger Riss said...

Hamish Blake is a regular on Spicks and Specks and I like him too. On that show they've been teasing him about only managing to answer one question correctly in previous episodes but the last time I saw him he managed to do a bit better.

I know it's on at the same time as 'House' but I watch Spicks and Specks and tape the other. Unless, of course, it's like this week where 'House' was a repeat. :(

I was out having a curry this Wednesday anyway.

Hmm, maybe I should take you up on that "We Do Chew Our Food" offer now that I have something to write about...

At Friday, May 26, 2006 8:55:00 am, Blogger sheriff of nothing said...

Angus - oh Angus, there is just something about him, he rings my bells, has since way back ....

Sorry - somebody slap me.

At Saturday, May 27, 2006 12:07:00 am, Blogger audrey said...

BEVIS, I wasn't at all referring to you! I got what you meant. I was just saying that in general I think there's a conception that there are comedians and then there are female comedians. I think so much of what Australian humour relies upon is kind of centred on a machoistic premise. And there are always the token females to balance out a trio - think Glass House, Rove, any morning breakfast radio. Two men and a woman seems somehow normal and RIGHT whereas people have a more difficult time accepting the balance of two women and a man in a comedic sense. In Judith Lucy's fringe show, she said that when she was doing a breakfast show with Peter Helliar and Kaz Cooke, the producers (before dropping Cooke altogether) made a concious move to push her into the background because, according to them, Cooke and Lucy sounded too much like each other and they didn't want the audience to get confused. She cuttingly pointed out the incredible odds that ALL men sound COMPLETELY different on radio.

Now, I've been a media monitor and have had to follow many painful breakfast radio shows. I could never tell the guys apart. Even a vague friend of mine works the night shift at NOVA FM and she says it's common knowledge that the woman in any comedy/radio ensemble is utilised as the handbrake. You know, the one that gets to whine, "Guuuuuyssss! You CAN'T say that! *giggle*"

It just pisses me off that's all, but I totally didn't think you were saying ladies weren't funny.

By the way, I loved Tanya's improv with the wedding. I think she worked really well with what she had. I also have a metcha crush on Angus. Woof.

At Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:39:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

John B, I've watched it back since reading your comment, and yes: He said 'Asian'. Well done and thank you. (You're always welcome to nit-pick! I do it to everyone else, so I can hardly complain if someone does it to me!) So you're agreeing with me that the 'problem' with Tanya's scene wasn't so much with Tanya's performance?

Riss, yes. His wit and humour make him worthwhile having on as a guest, even though he may know next-to-nothing about music trivia. And the show keeps score but doesn't award the winning team anything anyway, do they? So it's no skin off anyone's nose regardless. (Would you like me to 'invite' you to the Food Blog again? If so, simply let me know what email address I should send it to. You're certainly welcome.)

Sheriff of Nothing, really?!? Despite his role as Effie's brother and that movie he did that was blasted by critics and audiences alike? (You & Your Stupid Mate.) I find that incredible, even though I've found him to be excellent on TGYH. I'm marvelling at the "since way back" in your comment. If you ask really nicely, Angus may slap you himself.

Audrey, okay - I'm very glad to I hadn't pissed you off! :) I agree with your assessment, unfortunately, of the perception that there are two kinds of comedians; 'normal' comedians and female comedians. Your 'token female to balance out a trio' observation is right on the money, too. By all means include a female if they're worthy, but putting a 'token chick' in there just demeans everyone involved. The girls shouldn't be there if they're no good -- and the same rule should apply to the guys. Mix up the gender numbers, people. Similarly, the role of 'good taste governor' (if such a role is even 'necessary') shouldn't be given to the female by default as if she's playing the role of 'mother' to a band of misbehaving little boys. That's such an antiquated notion! I agree Tanya did well with what she had to work with in her wedding scene (the dance was a crap way to end it, but what she was able to turn the two sister-bridesmaids subplot into was fantastic), and I hope my original post made that clear. I'm surprised by the sudden female Angus fan club. Is it the gruff voice and his throat-perpetually-in-need-of-being-cleared that does it? I must know the secret!

At Saturday, July 22, 2006 3:34:00 pm, Blogger Briz-Fabyoulouse said...

I think Andy Lee is quite good looking.

http://ghettobrizbayne.com - you know you want to...


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