Time Out speaks with Australia’s favourite solicitor-turned-funny man, Shaun Micallef, about his new show Mad as Hell, returning to the hallowed halls of Aunty and the end of his Generation.
So this new show: what the hell is it?
It's a style of show that I’ve wanted to return to. About four years ago I was doing a show at SBS called Newstopia, which would have continued had it not been for the clash it presented with Talkin’ 'Bout Your Generation. It was nipped in the bud a little bit; we would have liked to develop it further. When this opportunity came up with the ABC to do a news-review programme I said I was keen but wanted to start again, build a new show so we could do something a bit different with the formula. We have a live audience, it has a national emphasis rather than an international one and, as is often the case with things I put together, it’s sort of a sketch show in disguise. We want the show to have an educational element as well – it’s called Mad as Hell not because I’m mad but because we assume the audience is, I’m here to calm them down. I’ve always seen my self as a kind of universal panacea…
So does that spell the end of Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation?
Yes I think so, it’s definitely done for the year and I feel it would be difficult to rev up the memento again. All the regulars are working on their own new shows. We had a good run, almost four years and 75 programmes and a little bit of success, which is a bonus.
It’s not just you who will be appearing on the new show, is it?
No, it would be insufferable if it were just me for the half an hour. I’m sharing the blame, or the credit depending on how you look at it, with Francis Greenslade, Roz Hammond, Emily Taheny, Veronica Milsom and a new fella called Tosh Greenslade (who’s no relation to Francis I’ve been assured). So that sketch element will be ensemble style. And the show is a mobile one. the last thing I want to do is inflict another panel show on Australian audiences – they’re enjoyable but I’m sick to death of seeing them.
We’ve been told that in Mad as Hell, you’ll be addressing the “big stories”. What sort of story makes the grade with you Shaun?
I’ll be completely honest with you: whatever story we pick will be the one that we arrogantly insist is “big.” We’re not a real news service so I have no duty to be accurate, to report fairly or to report anything at all. I can do whatever I want to. If a story doesn’t suit a joke, then we won’t do it.
And, finally, what’s it like to back at the ABC?
It’s really nice to back here! In fact, I was walking around the office the other day, having a look around, and realised it’s the same furniture that was here when we were doing the Micallef Programme back in 1998. Very little has changed – maybe the carpet is more mildewed but that’s about it.
Mad as Hell airs Fridays, 8pm from May 25.