“This generation of Australian comedians is absolutely 100 percent the most diverse, most interesting, most entertaining, most hilarious generation of comedians there has ever been.”
“The level of competition has increased so much since people like me and Hughesy [Dave Hughes] started performing. And the level of talent available to [on-air] positions is just huge.”
TV executives may just not keep up with this new wave of creatives, he says, but the problem is also structural.
“We are coming to the end of the old-fashioned free-to-air television model. And the people who have little time with that old model don’t feel it’s the space to take risks [on new talent]†
“You find all these young, brilliant artists behind the scenes, writing jokes or producing segments for people like me. But you don’t necessarily see them on screen that often.”
Tom Whitty, the creator of a new show that is part of 10’s Pilot Showcase, is trying to change that.
“I come across a lot of new Australian comedy on Instagram and TikTok,” he says. “But it’s a real form of digital signage because they don’t have that great of a chance to appeal to an entire nation and become familiar with it.”
his series, Time to die, sees two up-and-coming comedians deliberately writing bad jokes for each other and performing them live at comedy clubs. The pilot, which airs Monday on 10 Play, features younger comedians Sonia Di Iorio and Tom Cashman, and is hosted by fellow comedians Gen Fricker and Ben Russell.
While the show has not yet been ordered for a full series, Whitty is grateful that a broadcaster like 10 is considering giving it a go: “The last time I saw regular stand-up on TV was Tom Ballard’s show. [Tonightly] on ABC. And that was a while ago.”
The ABC’s decision not to renew this evening in 2018 was a huge disappointment to many in the industry – and not just to the many young writers and artists working on it.
Anderson, for example, says he’s still upset about it: “The ABC and SBS should be where this new talent” [is given time and space to] develop. The ABC should have a youth show like this evening on every night.”
Tom Ballard, who hosted the show, says: The age and The Sydney Morning Herald he doesn’t sit on sympathy and has gained a lot of support from the public broadcaster over the years (“an exception that proves the rule”).
But, he says, “it’s fair to say that the ABC hasn’t done anything since it gave a platform to as many new, weird and radical voices as we could, and I think that’s a loss.”
“Honestly, it’s bizarre how rarely millennials and zoomers are seen and heard through the mainstream media in this country; not only when it comes to comedy, but also social commentary, hosting capabilities – everything. And that kinda stinks.
“At its worst, Australian TV often feels suffocating safe†
Those interviewed for this story would like to see more stand-up, more “radical, risky” sketch comedy, more shows led by young people (and given time to grow), as well as more consistent investment from streaming services.
More than one person was amazed that new talent Aaron Chen doesn’t have his own show. And he’s not the only one being overlooked.
Other bright talents recommended for Australian fencing are Scout Boxall, Matt Stewart, Suren Jayemanne, Zack Dyer, Jonathan Schuster, Nat Damena, Gabbi Bolt, Anna Piper Scott, Cam James, Alexei Toliopoulos, Bec Shaw, Greg Larsen, Bec Melrose, Nikki Britton, Sam Campbell, Rosie Piper, Concetta Caristo and Damien Power.
If things don’t change, according to Rajan, Australia risks losing a generation of writers and artists. Some of our best young creatives are all moving abroad, where their talent is in high demand. And increasingly she says it “feels like a foolish decision” [to stay]†
“I had a very bizarre moment when I was trying to meet a TV director here, and at the same time I was approached by an international scout,” says Rajan.
“I know the industry is bigger [in other countries] … but how can the dissonance be so great? How can someone abroad know my work, but I can’t get a meeting in my hometown?”
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