Pop Culture #709

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Pop Culture #709

Okay, so Get Krack!n is easily the best Australian scripted comedy the ABC has put to air in a depressingly long time, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In fact, it’s a hard show to really nail down because it’s rarely the same show each week.

Sometimes the comedy is aimed outwards at a target, like this season’s first episode with crap rural tourism in their sights, which means hosts Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney are mostly there to give a spray at whoever they’ve got in front of them.

Other times the joke is at breakfast television itself, like in the second episode where the Kates found themselves slowly but steadily crushed under the burned of having to deal for the first time ever with a live studio audience – one that had clearly turned up expected something with a bit more polish than what they were seeing.

And then there are the episodes where the joke is firmly on them, like the third episode where they hosted a very special episode based on “International Day of People Living with a Disability Day” where pretty much all of their disabled guests found themselves shattered up against the rocks of the Kate’s ignorance and privilege.

Usually the stronger episodes are the ones where the laughs come at the Kates’ expense, because without the character side of things often all that’s left is a lot of straight-up sledging, and while there’s plenty going on at the moment here that deserves a good solid kick (what’s that you say – Australia is sexist and racist and ignorant as hell, happily sleepwalking towards an environmental nightmare while the rich steal everything that isn’t nailed down?) simply pointing that kind of thing out doesn’t really qualify as “a joke”.

If you follow any of Australia’s “up and coming” comedy writers on Twitter, you know the kind of material we mean (and as a lot of them have contributed to Get Krack!n, this is no surprise). This kind of thing works fine on Twitter: on a comedy show there usually needs to be a bit of structure around it, and that’s where the character side of things comes in.

When the comedy is built more around the Kates themselves, the berating isn’t just flatly presented as a blunt statement – it’s coming from a comedy character in a situation where they’re crumbling under the stress of an awful job and are lashing out blindly in frustration.

The joke then isn’t so much what they’re saying, it’s that they’ve been pushed to a place where they feel they have to say those things – which, to be fair, is clearly also the wider joke of the whole show. Things are crap, and the fact more people aren’t talking about it is crazy; no wonder the show has a manic edge to it at times.

But that’s a big part of what makes it essential viewing: at a time when just about every ABC sitcom seems designed to sooth the audience – or flat out put them into a coma in the case of Rosehaven – Get Krack!n is out there trying to rile people up. And that’s something Australian comedy could do with a whole lot more of.