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Stop Laughing...this is Serious: ABC celebrates the history of Australian comedy

ProgrammingKevin Perry
 image - supplied/ABC

image - supplied/ABC


Stop Laughing...this is serious three-part documentary series charting a course through the story of Australian comedy, featuring more than 60 interviews with the men and women who make us laugh.

Through a blend of social history, extensive archive material and intimate interviews with some of the country’s most loved comedians, we travel via stand up, radio, television, theatre and film from indigenous comedy to new viral media jokers of today, revealing how humour, laughter and comedy are integral to our national identity.

By unpicking our cultural cringe, poking fun at our national identity, confronting hard truths and exploring our taboos, we come to realise that Australians’ greatest characteristic is our ability to laugh at ourselves.

Narrated by Eric Bana, the series explores the development of Australian comedy through social and political change, examining the way humour has reflected and responded to multicultural Australia, gender issues, and politics.  Each episode moves seamlessly through time, weaving contemporary comedy with early comedic performance, featuring insight and anecdotes from what Barry Humphries calls ‘the cheering up business’.

Episode one, “LOOK AT MOI, LOOK AT MOI” (Kath and Kim) looks inwards at the importance of our ability to laugh at ourselves.  From Edna Everage, the mousy, Melbourne housewife, and Sandy Stone – the man to whom nothing ever happens, to school kids like Kylie Mole and Ja’mie and Aussie battlers like Dad and Dave, Paul Hogan and Kenny, we realise that what’s right under our very own nose is often the funniest thing of all.

The second episode “FAARK, FAARK” (Graham Kennedy) looks upwards at those in authority.  We have long revered the little guy punching upwards, and we love to celebrate the rebels and rogues who can make us laugh at our situation no matter how grim.  From Graham Kennedy, Les Patterson and Magda Szubanski, via the University comedy Revues, to Tim Minchin and The Chaser, we love a larrikin with a sense of mischief and acknowledge their vital role in keeping the bastards honest.

The final and third episode “HELLO POSSUMS” (Dame Edna) looks at Australian comedy on the world stage.  We examine the transfer of comedic ideas between our nation and the rest of the world, revealing how pioneers like Barry Humphries, Wendy Harmer, Rod Quantock, Adam Hills, Paul Hogan and John Clarke crossed boundaries with their wit and tenacity.  We explore ‘online’ as a new way of getting comedy to mass audiences and meet some of the next generation in Australian Comedy.

Throughout the series, we will explore how comedy ties us together as a nation, traversing generations and bridging cultural divides.  We Aussies love tolaugh at ourselves, our politics, our fellow Australians – are there no sacred cows?  Along the way the viewer will laugh but also come to appreciate the craft of our greatest comedians who ultimately reveal important truths about the world in which we live.