Since moving to America and starting stand-up comedy I am always faced with these two statements:
1.”Who is your favorite comedian?”
2. “I’ve never heard of Sean Micallef.”
My taste in comedy is very much driven by countless hours watching ‘The Best of the Late Show’ (the Australian one made in 1992) on repeat with my brother, knowing that the library’s only VHS copy was costing my parents a fortune in late fees.
Add in a good dose of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and hero-worship as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala hit TV screens each year and you should have a good picture of why I can’t quote many American comedians with the fluency I can recount ‘Pissweak World’ and ‘Bargearse’
Here beneath is a testament to my favorite comedians; whom I love, wish I was and who may have once called me beautiful:
1. Sean Micallef
Back in the 90’s I was young and not allowed to watch TV past 8pm. Despite my parents setting that rule, they gave me a small black and white TV. I understood this gift as ‘Don’t listen to us, do whatever you like’. Thus I would stay up all night to watch ‘Full Frontal’, a sketch comedy show starring Sean Micallef and other people who weren’t Sean Micallef. I’d watch it with my face so close to the screen that my hair would cling to the glass from the static. Without fail my stealth viewing would be betrayed by the laughter pouring out my face as Sean fumbled incoherently as Milo Karrigan. My parents would barge in and unplug the TV (they never removed the TV, which I interpreted as ‘Please plug this back in when we leave and you should probably take some chocolate from the kitchen too’)
In high school ‘The Micallef Program(me)’ began its run and I was in love. Sean Micallef became my spirit animal, my first crush (second if you include Alex Mallory from Growing Pains) and king of all laugh-makers.
Once I met him and he called me beautiful and he gave me a twix bar. The end.
2. The Late Show
*(Technically not one comedian but a comedy entity unto itself)
Not to be confused with the American more successful version, The Late Show was Australia’s own version of SNL but with a smaller budget and much less success (except in Frankston where it rivaled Best Leg’s chips for popularity). This show, more than anything else, has shaped not only my sense of humor but who I am as a person. I can recount every news worthy event of 1992 thanks to the Newsdesk with Tommy G and get nostalgic driving past the old ‘Stacks of Slax’ building because of Tony Martin and Mick Malloy’s expose on zany business names. Graham and the Colonel quotes comprise the majority of my conversations about sport to hide my complete ignorance. This show owns a large chunk of my brain. It really is “Champagne sketch comedy”.
3. Mitch Hedburg
Thankfully this man is known by most. It was his performance at Montreal Just For Laughs in 2004 that once again had me glued to the TV set (by this stage I had updated to a colour 31 cm screen) but I remember not laughing because the grin on my face was too wide to allow me to make a noise. He had a optimistic take on small things which is a rarity in stand-up. His genuine joy for his craft which countered his anxiety on stage made him intoxicatingly fascinating to watch.
4. Maeve Higgens
I discovered this lady when my friend threw Maeve’s book ‘We Have a Good Time, Don’t We?’ at me with great enthusiasm. It was while reading the first chapter that I saw she too faced the conundrum of having to wash one’s hands after applying good hand cream and I knew she was the voice of my people ( I don’t know who ‘my people’ are, but one day we will accidentally congregate and need a leader).
She may have stolen my hope of making the best comedy cooking show around with her ‘Fancy Vittles’ but heck, with episode themes as adorable as her dog’s birthday party (in which a dog wore a party hat) how I could I possibly compete?