Saturday, March 22, 2008


The first Australians I ever met were members of some sports team that was playing University squads in Canada. I'd been invited to a welcoming party at a three-storey house in downtown Regina. And while I don't recall what sport these gentlemen played, I'll never forget ambling up a quiet street on a summer evening as screaming exploded from the house I was headed for.

Then, these two Australian guys burst from the front door stark naked with flaming newspapers tucked into their butt cheeks. They vaulted off the porch and dove ass first into two large tubs of water sitting on the front lawn.

Apparently, it was a race that had started on the third floor as newsprint was inserted and lit, giving the boys mere seconds to descend two flights of stairs without being "disqualified" for losing their newspapers and reach the waiting water before anything got singed.

Since this first heat was too close to call, they ran the race again. The loser of that contest demanded a "best of three" and so it went. I don't know who ended up winning. I only remember being helpless with laughter.

Canadians are rightfully proud of their contributions to the world of comedy from Jim Carrey to Mike Myers to Paul Anka. "You're Having My Baby" was supposed to be funny, right?

But beyond Dame Edna, Rolf Harris and Barry Humphries, most of us have never experienced Australian comedy and that's a shame, because much of it is priceless.

I was in Australia during the 2000 Olympics and the ABC network (their version of the CBC) broadcast every minute of the Games with all the generosity and respect the visiting nations and their athletes deserved -- until 11:00 pm. At that point a show entitled "The Dream" recapped the day's events in a manner that once again left me helpless with laughter.

Host sportscasters "Roy & HG" (comedy duo Grieg Pickhaver and John Doyle) presented such things as Greco-Roman wrestling with a Barry White soundtrack and invented new names for the moves in Men's gymnastics including the "Flat Bag", "Dutch Wink" and "Hello Boys".

They also created a new mascot for the games, "Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat" to replace the mundane official mascots they dubbed "Syd, Ollie, and Dickhead". Fatso became so popular that Australian athletes carried him to the medal podium and the Olympic Committee tried to have him banned.

A statue of Fatso has since been erected at Sydney's Olympic Park.

Insulting New Zealanders was also de rigeur. When New Zealand won their first gold in Rowing, Roy remarked that Kiwis were "only good at sitting down and going backwards". As for the former Olympic host city of Atlanta, it was dismissed as "the toilet".

Australians and Canadians are much alike. To them, we're "Australians with better manners". But funny is funny and I'd like you meet two current stars on Oz television, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe. Both are well known screenwriters and actors who now provide regular commentary on the news of the day.

I hope that, like me, they leave you helpless with laughter. Enjoy your Sunday.


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1 comment:

Darren M said...

I have to watch more local TV. Is it ironic or just sad that I end up watching such great Australian comedy on a Canadian blog when I could just turn on the TV and watch it on free to air?

And just a little context for those watching the "THE AUSTRALIAN VERSION OF BILL C-10". The 2nd example program that is referred to is the ABC's pre-school show called Play School (which was been running for more than 40yrs), the lyrics of the theme song are below.

There's a bear in there
And a chair as well
There are people with games
And stories to tell
Open wide, come inside
It's Play School.