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Analysis and Comment (22)

Paul Verhoeven tells tall stories in his debut Melbourne Fringe Show. Photo: Alan Moyle Photobat. Paul Verhoeven tells tall stories in his debut Melbourne Fringe Show. Photo: Alan Moyle Photobat. Melbourne Fringe

The truth about Tell Me Lies at the Melbourne Fringe

We might assume the stories stand-up comedians tell us are true, or at least contain a grain of truth – something their partner said, their kids did. But of course they’re often personalising their stories…
Heard the one about turning it off and on again? Heard the one about turning it off and on again? Adam Ethan Crow

Geek laughs: Control Alt Delete at the Melbourne Fringe

Computers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’d be hard pressed to find a person who has never experienced them in one way or another. They are part of our world, integrated into our lives through our phones and…
The acerbic, rasping performer was one of the hardest-working people in show business. The acerbic, rasping performer was one of the hardest-working people in show business. JASON SZENES/EPA

Joan Rivers was many things – which will we remember her as?

Joan Alexandra Molinksy was born in Brooklyn on June 8, 1933, to immigrants from Russia. She attended the Adelphi academy in Brooklyn, and, an excellent student, was Phi Beta Kappa at Barnard College…
Being ‘high-brow’, like Tim Key, draws in the awards. Being ‘high-brow’, like Tim Key, draws in the awards. Danny Lawson/PA

What is good comedy? The answer probably depends on your social background

Among the 1,000 or so comedians who have been jostling for attention at this year’s Edinburgh festival fringe, two grabbed a disproportionate amount of headlines. Both occupy prime slots in big venues…
The legend Stan Laurel lives on at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. The legend Stan Laurel lives on at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. PA/PA Archive

Stan Laurel returns home to Scotland for Fringe festival

Any show exploring the life of early film comedian Stan Laurel could be forgiven for focusing solely on Hollywood glitz and glamour. Across a film career that spanned some 34 years with his partner Oliver…
US actor Robin Williams has been found dead aged 63 in his home in Marin County, California. US actor Robin Williams has been found dead aged 63 in his home in Marin County, California. AAP/ Tracey Nearmy

Robin Williams gave us a lifelong masterclass in comedy

American actor and stand-up comedian Robin Williams has died today, aged 63. Barack Obama posted a statement about his death and noted, in a rather odd turn of phrase, that “he arrived in our lives as…
The cast and crew of transgender comedy The Switch want to see more inclusive representation of transgender people on TV. The cast and crew of transgender comedy The Switch want to see more inclusive representation of transgender people on TV. We Love The Switch

Changing the way we look at trans women on TV

The Canadian production company Trembling Void has just successfully crowdfunded a new television series called The Switch. The project is a comedy tracing the lives of an ensemble of trans characters…
With Python, audience members are primarily laughing for their own memories of laughing. With Python, audience members are primarily laughing for their own memories of laughing. Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Monty Python’s reunion gives you a funny feeling again? Luxury!

The Monty Python crew have put many caveats on their upcoming reunion shows, which starts in London today and will be simulcast live around the world. Perhaps this quote from John Cleese rings truest of…
The original 20th Century Coyote line-up in 1977: (l-r) Lloyd Peters, Mark Dewison, Ade Edmondson, Mike Redfern, Rik Mayall. The original 20th Century Coyote line-up in 1977: (l-r) Lloyd Peters, Mark Dewison, Ade Edmondson, Mike Redfern, Rik Mayall. Lloyd Peters

Young, gifted and punk: my mad days with Rik Mayall

The untimely death of me old mucker Rik Mayall last week has prompted a plethora of obituaries in the press and on television and radio. However, as someone who “nearly” grew up with Rik at Manchester…
Get to know them and know the 80s. Get to know them and know the 80s. BBC

To understand Thatcherite Britain, all you need is The Young Ones

In the cult 1980s sitcom The Young Ones, lefty sociology student Rick, threatens to commit suicide and berates his fellow housemates: I feel sorry for you, you zeroes, you nobodies. What’s going to live…
UK comedian and actor Rick Mayall, who died yesterday aged 56. UK comedian and actor Rick Mayall, who died yesterday aged 56. Steve Vas/ Shutterstock

Arsehole of British comedy? Rik Mayall was a funny B'stard

Rik Mayall is putrid – absolutely vile. He thinks nose-picking is funny and farting and all that. He is the arsehole of British comedy. Spike Milligan made this rather pithy statement some time ago (the…
‘Who do you think you’re kidding, Mr Hitler?’ ‘Who do you think you’re kidding, Mr Hitler?’ EPA/Claudio Onorati

Bill Nighy fronts new Dad’s Army, but don’t forget the real Home Guard

News that a feature film of the BBC TV comedy series Dad’s Army is to be made – starring Bill Nighy and Toby Jones – has garnered a mixed response. The Daily Telegraph has questioned whether the film is…
Back in 2003 as Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott was already providing comedy gold. Back in 2003 as Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott was already providing comedy gold. AAP/ Alan Porritt

What’s so funny about right-leaning politicians, said the Abbott to the Bishop

Spoiler alert: This article is not very funny. At first glance, Australian PM Tony Abbott is God’s gift to political comedy. Like George Bush Jr he gives at the personal level: his swimmers and his vocal…
The topic of “women in comedy” is endlessly controversial – as Adrienne Truscott seems to know. The topic of “women in comedy” is endlessly controversial – as Adrienne Truscott seems to know. MICF

Sex, rape and role models – how women in comedy perform

Two performance artists in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) – the UK’s Bryony Kimmings and American Adrienne Truscott – have a certain flavour of humour: it’s the knowing, self-deprecating…
We’re primed first to see women as objects of desire and to listen to their voices second. We’re primed first to see women as objects of desire and to listen to their voices second. Anne Edmonds, Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Funny how? Where women and stand-up meet for laughs

What is it about stand-up comedy that makes it a more difficult space for a funny woman to conquer? A bunch of seasoned female stand-ups return to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) this…
Mary Beard dreads the idea of a fixed quota of women on television panels. Mary Beard dreads the idea of a fixed quota of women on television panels. John Stillwell/PA

Masculine banter is the problem with unbalanced comedy panels

Mary Beard, talking to the Radio Times, has been the latest to jump into the debate triggered by BBC head of television Danny Cohen’s decree that there should be no more all-male gatherings on the corporation’s…
Comedic duo Roy and HG simultaneously celebrate and critique the place of sport in Australian culture. Comedic duo Roy and HG simultaneously celebrate and critique the place of sport in Australian culture. Network Ten

Too much sport is barely enough: what makes Roy and HG funny?

The Sochi Winter Olympics has seen the return to Australian television screens of sport parodists extraordinaire “Rampaging” Roy Slaven and HG Nelson. Roy and HG’s Russian Revolution presents the familiar…
The world of advertising hits the small screen – again – in the new series The Crazy Ones. The world of advertising hits the small screen – again – in the new series The Crazy Ones. CBS

The Crazy Ones – advertising agencies make great television

Move over Mad Men – there’s a new group of advertising executives hitting the small screen. The Crazy Ones, a TV series set in a Chicago advertising agency, is currently the top-ranked show in the new…
Is the suffering of the Holocaust ever fair game for comedians? Is the suffering of the Holocaust ever fair game for comedians? EPA/Jacek Bednarczy

Too soon? The case for Holocaust humour

“Too soon” is a phrase that gets bandied about in response to jokes about tragedy or misfortune. The implication is that a certain amount of time needs to pass before we can poke fun at loss or grief…
Julia Gillard is portrayed sympathetically in the new ABC satire. Julia Gillard is portrayed sympathetically in the new ABC satire. ABC Television publicity

‘At Home With Julia’ exposes obsession with personality over policy

Does the ABC’s new hit series At Home With Julia demonstrate an unreconstructed sexism in Australian political satire? Should we be cringing at our cultural immaturity again? If the 2010 Election (or subsequent…
Chris Lilley’s Gran character is written too large to be ignored. Chris Lilley’s Gran character is written too large to be ignored. ABC Television publicity

Mockumentary’s ‘beautiful confusion’ animates Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys

Last night’s premiere of Chris Lilley’s third mockumentary series, Angry Boys, was a reminder that television comedy in Australia as we once knew it has changed forever. In the wake of the popular successes…