Vale Stuart Wagstaff 13 February 1925 – 10 March 2015

Stuart Wagstaff

Rest in Peace, Stuart Wagstaff - one of Australia's finest BLANKS.

 There will be no shortage of tributes and obituaries for Stuart Wagstaff - an entertainer with a lifelong career on stage and screen. In addition to a series of cigarette ads I barely remember (tobacco advertising ended on Australian television in 1976 - replaced by intense ad campaigns for matches) Wagstaff was a regular panelist on the game show Blankety Blanks. Which was still enjoying repeats in the late 1980s. It also had a spin-off brand of lemonade. Featuring a who's who of Australian celebrities, it proved a popular DVD release.

Here are some random excerpts courtesy of Youtube:





(Here's the soft drink ad if you really need to see it.)


Kid's TV wasn't like this in our day!


In the time before the internet, it took something like Clive James On Television to bring to the attention to the rest of the world the folly of weird television and unfortunate [mis]translations. But this is the time of the internet, and news travels so fast that a story can break late at night and disappear before I've even had time to blog about it.

It was Clive, if you'll recall, who let the the rest of the world in on Japan's excellent game show, Endurance, in which contestants had cockroaches stuffed in their undies while they were hung upside down above snakes, and the like, in order to compete for some prize that couldn't possibly be worth all that they'd…  endured. But it wasn't just a matter of making fun of weird foreign television to satisfy and insensitive audience; Clive gave us a context and an explanation, presenting even the most ridiculous footage with a modicum of respect:

There had been a day when young men like these would have been taking off in planes they barely knew how to fly and heading for a sky full of flak, all in the hope of a different kind ofgrand prize - the chance to crash into an Allied warship.

(as told in Clive's fifth volume of autobiography, Blaze of Obscurity)

I'm not gonna wax as erudite for this one.




This was the story: a children's show in Japan featured a host whose jumpsuit bore rude slogans such as 'I LOVE SPONSORS', 'I LOVE C*CK', 'I LOVE P*SSY' and 'LOVE F*CK YEAH'. There was footage on YouTube.

That's it.



I knew, from recent experience with Cellular Solutions ("the leading communications provider to South East England") there'd be a little window of opportunity before the primary source was removed, censored or hidden.

So I quickly shot a video of the clip playing on my computer, with my phone. And then grabbed some screen caps. Before I finished, the clip was made private.




Here it is, for as long as it stays online, before it's taken down. Sorry. It's so low-fi, you're not gonna be able to read the costume. But you will recognise the design on the shirts the kids are wearing: they're in Nirvana t-shirts, bearing the instantly recognisable  logo - the acid house smiley with the stoned eyes and flakey mouth. Fittingly, the logo was adapted "from a downtown strip club called 'Lusty Lady'". As with the tribal patterns and kanji script that have become trendy patterns on upholstery, t-shirts and tattoos, the folks in charge of wardrobe for this show are interested in what the patterns look like inshot, more than what they might mean to an unlikely audience stumbling onto the program by accident.



Andrew O'Keefe: Host with the Roast
(Beef AND Chicken)




It's Celebrity Theatresports time again, with the 2013 event taking place Saturday August 24 at the Enmore Theatre (buy tickets here).

I grabbed the opportunity to interview Andrew O'Keefe, a brilliant improviser I first met as an undergraduate at the University of Sydney. At the time, fronting the big band Straight No Chaser as vocalist and trumpeter was just one of many strings to the man's bow. Best to pick it up from there, pretty much.


Dom Romeo: As an undergrad, majoring in extra curricular activities in addition do your Arts/Law degree, you led bands, acted, the usual stuff. Then you set out on the law career. Suddenly you're on the telly doing sketches in The Big Bite. Now you've been hosting Deal or No Deal for a decade. What was the initial plan? Were you aiming for television in particular? 

ANDREW O'KEEFE: To tell you the truth, ‘Game Show Host’ didn’t make the top 50 as far as career was concerned, and I say that with the greatest respect for Larry Emdur and Baby John Burgess. In fact, a career in any form of entertainment never really struck me as a viable option.  It seemed to me you needed talent for that. The plan was to be a lawyer who passionately enjoyed the life part of the ‘work-life balance’ equation. I kinda tripped over the TV thing, and it just so happened that all that extra-curricular activity at uni was the perfect training.

Dom Romeo: I can't help feeling, if you'd come through even a half generation earlier before media and television changed so radically, you'd have been a perfect fit for Packer's Nine Network, in the traditional mould of the golden age of 'triple threat' television hosts (Bert Newton, Don Lane, Graham Kennedy, Daryl Somers etc). I still hear, from time to time, of 'tonight-show' style pilots, or the impro-driven Whose Line is it Anyway?-type shows that you've fronted. Any plans/schemes/(dare I say it) deals in the pipeline? 

ANDREW O'KEEFE: No deals (and I use that phrase under licence), but plenty of ideas and pitches. The trick for me with TV is to come up with concepts that will be smart and idiosyncratic enough to satisfy my mind and my creative urge, but also broadly appealing enough to satisfy my accountant. That’s quite a difficult balancing act. I often pitch ideas that I think are fascinating, or bitingly amusing, only to be turned down for not ‘smelling like roast chicken’. And yes, that’s a real TV term.



Dom Romeo: You have the additional 'fourth threat' of being able to deliver straight journalism. Are you ever torn between the two? 

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Well luckily I don’t have to rend myself asunder over that, because my weekend job allows me to turn the dial between vaudeville, editorial, interview and inquiry, journalistic story-telling, and simple conversation, for six hours of live telly each week. Having said that, I do often feel that the constraints of commercial television journalism demand that the brushstrokes are very broad, and the paints are mostly primary colours. So the trick becomes to illuminate issues with simplicity and genuine curiosity, rather than to dictate the answers. It can be a very slow process, but you have to trust in the marketplace of ideas, and in your own ability to present compelling perspectives in an accessible way.

Dom Romeo: So are you an entertainer who does journalism or a journalist who entertains? 

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Well, I’m certainly not a journalist, and I don’t have the degree to prove it. But I reject the desire to pidgeonhole anyway. Every single person has a right and a capacity to speak on matters that affect us all. Now, whether their views and opinions are of any worth doesn’t depend on their background or job title, but rather on their conscientious learning and their genuine desire to find the truth by engaging in debate with an open mind. Having said all that, I think the best journalism is always entertaining, bearing in mind that there are a thousand ways to entertain!


Andrew O'Keefe as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Dom Romeo: It was a pleasure to see you as Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar - a role that seems purpose built for you to parody your other job (even though the change of Herod's characterisation, from smug know-it-all skeptic in the Jewish tradition, to smarmy game show host, via old-school high class gangster, happened in earlier UK productions). How did your involvement come about?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Dom, it was simply a call from the blue. Sir Andrew’s people (I just like saying that) were looking for someone who could sing and dance and act and who preferably had some TV game-show experience. By a process of elimination, they found me. My natural smugness and smarminess was just an added bonus for them.

Dom Romeo: Is it the case you weren't in the Melbourne run?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Sadly yes. I suffered a theatre injury dear boy and had to withdraw from the show.  It was during the Brisbane leg. In an odd Jewish variant of karma, I ruptured a disc in my neck as I was belittling and humiliating Christ, and had to undergo an emergency disc replacement. Yahweh smote me! Now, I would have thought that Jesus, being merciful and all, could have healed me on the spot, especially given that cripples are supposedly a specialty of his. But apparently not. Anyway, I’ve been taking the Third Commandment a lot more seriously ever since.

Dom Romeo: Does that mean you didn't get to keep the cool suit?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: That’s exactly what it means. My understudy, a charming and very talented young Brit named Leon, has the suit. I mean, I did fourteen performances in that thing, he did four, and HE keeps the suit? Oi vey! (Mind you, the suit was not cool… have you ever worn thick velveteen under arena lighting?  It’s hotter than Wasim Akram’s jock strap as he pounds down for his 30th over against India in Karachi.)


Dom Romeo: Occasionally someone makes reference to the fact that you're the nephew of Johnny O'Keefe, the 'Wild One', Australia's king of rock'n'roll. Were there ever times in your life where you were unruly and your family acknowledged you take after him?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Every time I make an unexpected appearance on YouTube.

Dom Romeo: The JOK connection is not something you've traded on. Is there a kind of performance legacy that affects you?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Only in a good way. Most of the kids don’t really know much about JOK these days, but I still get a lot of love and reminiscence from the oldies I meet. I mean, my uncle was absolutely incendiary and mad as a hatter at times, but his meteoric energy and his huge warm heart were irresistible. I guess those are the qualities that draw me to him even so long after his death.

Dom Romeo: Do you ever have to make a conscious effort to not acknowledge/partake? For example, a few years back there was a reissue campaign involving excellent remastered recordings - did people try to interview you about it? (The thought did cross my mind. I'm doing it now instead.)

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Oh yes, of course. And there’s always the danger, when you have a famous family, of feeling that you’re living in their shadow. But I don’t mind that at all. The truth is that he was a pioneer, that he is a legend, and that he is a part of my own story. I feel lucky to have known him, and it gladdens me to be able to honour his achievements and honour the memories of all the people who loved him. 

Dom Romeo: I see your impro skills in action on Deal or No Deal where you can take an idea and run with it (singing Mustang Sally to a contestant called Sally, that sort of thing). How important is it/how has it served you throughout in law/entertainment/job interviews etc?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: Improvisation is really the only skill required for Deal or No Deal, because you never know who your contestant will be, what they want out of life, or what they’ll do in the glare of the spotlight. So whether I find myself dancing around the stage in imaginary lederhosen crying “Mutter! Mutter! The pretzel van is coming!”, or making up a rap on the spot using as many rhymes as possible for ‘schnitzel’ (e.g. “I just run for dem crumbs, all those tiny little bits y’all..”), or miming the eating of a frozen boa constrictor down the camera barrel (note to our hearing impaired viewers, it’s not what you think… I’m eating a snake), or trying to distill the history of the Tartar invasions of Russia into a twenty-second fable, it’s all about improvisation. And just like Theatresports, that involves two key approaches: listening hard, and saying yes to everything. Kinda like being in the bathrooms at the Logies.

Dom Romeo: Tell me about the nickname 'Beef'. Who bestowed it? When and how? Do people still use it?

ANDREW O'KEEFE: I always know when I’ve met someone by what they call me. My family calls me Drew, my legal chums call me Andrew, my TV pals call me AOK, my old colleagues from Thunder Down Under call me… um, don’t worry about that one… but my old school and uni friends all call me Beef. Beef O’Keefe. It’s not what you’re thinking, unfortunately. It was bestowed upon me in first class by my dear mate Jules Delaney, or Schultz Delaney, depending on who you ask.


Andrew O'Keefe
Image courtesy Impro Australia.





Fine Print:

Celebrity Theatresports: Saturday August 24 at the Enmore Theatre (buy tickets here).

Other performers include:

  • Casey Burgess (Hi-5)
  • Rob Carlton
  • Damon Herriman
  • Clint Bolton (Socceroo)
  • Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson
  • Amelia Farrugia (Opera Star)
  • Jordan Raskopoulos
  • Adam Spencer
  • Kate Peck (MTV)
  • Dan Ilic
  • Rebecca De Unamuno

You're a vision of excellence


I still don't know that I 'get' Eurovision. On the one hand, it can launch careers - or at least lead to hit singles - despite the high-camp pantomime silliness of it all (ABBA's 'Waterloo', Sandie Shaw's 'Puppet on a String', Celine Dion). On the other hand, that career is often more high-camp pantomime silliness (Bucks Fizz 'Making Your Mind Up', Brotherhood of Man 'Save Your Kisses For Me' and, let's face it, ABBA).

I mean, seriously. Bucks Fizz. Look how silly the choreography is… particularly at 2:15 into the clip… Apparently three different bandmembers and a choreographer all claim credit for the 'skirt rip'. That's nothing compared to the cheesy actions accompanying the 'from behind' lyric soon after. In fact, the whole song is ordinary. Cretinously repetitive. The only way it can keep your interest is by modulating to yet another key at the end of each chorus. This was the winning performance. Of the winning song. In 1981. Courtesy of the United Kingdom. And then it was a massive hit  around the world. Hard to believe, I know.

One thing you can say is that in the two decades since the Bucks Fizz win, the filming and production values have improved massively - even if the songs haven't.

Although, I shouldn't generalise. Some have been quite impressive indeed: Serge Gainsbourg's 'Poupée de cire, poupée de son' - performed by French yé-yé singer France Gall as Luxembourg's winning entry in 1965 - was a postmodern piece of dramatic self-referential artistry. It sold some 14,000 copies as a 7-inch single in France the day after the broadcast, going on to sell half a million in a short period of time. (I was unable to embed the clip, but watch it here. And then watch her controversial and ambiguous follow-up single, also written by Gainsbourg though not a Eurovision entry, 'Lollipops'.)

What I love most about Eurovision is the paradox it embodies. It's a competition designed to unify the disperate nations of the European Union with the so-called 'universal language' of music. Impossible! Mostly impossible... that's why the winning song is frequently seemingly nonsensical.

Spain's 1968 winning entry, 'La La La', for example. Sung by Massiel, it was dismissed as 'a piece of rubbish' by thwarted songwriter Bill Martin. Martin co-wrote Sandie Shaw's 1967 winning entry for the United Kingdom, 'Puppet on a String', with Phil Coulter. The pair also wrote 'Congratulations', performed by Cliff Richard. 'Congratulations' was the favourite to win in 1968, and was indeed in the lead for most of the 1968 competition - until Germany gave Spain enough points to get ahead of the United Kingdom. So the universal language only unites if its speaking nonsense, and only unites some contries, in the strategic voting to block others. Or perhaps they just didn't dig Cliff Richard's frilly pirate shirt.

Anyway, the United Kingdom took notes. The following year, Lulu delivered a song with a stupid title: 'Boom Bang-a-Bang'. And it won. Although, 1969 was the first year that countries tied in the top spot, and because it hadn't happened before, there was no provision in place for the high-camp pantomime equivalent of a 'penalty shoot out', 'sudden death' or 'golden try'. So the United Kingdom won. And so did Spain, Netherlands, and France.

But take the time to appreciate how much of an over-the-top novelty song 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' is - the orchestra raises its eyebrows at 0:40 in:


 I wonder if they chose Lulu deliberately for the song with 'bang bang' in the title - since 'Lulu Bang Bang' is a folk song no doubt familiar to musical insiders, much as 'the aristocrats' is known to comedians. It's a crude folk song. No musical euphemisms with the horn section raising its eyebrows, though.

The ridiculously titled winning entry was suitably parodied - along with Eurovision itself - by Monty Python's Flying Circus, in the Europolice Song Contest, won by Inspector Zatapathique (Graham Chapman), Forensic Expert with the Monaco Murder Squad, with his rendition of 'Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong'. Before you get there, however, marvel at how pretty Eric Idle is when he frocks up - and also at the racist humour that just wouldn't be tolerated today.

Thus admonished, you'd think Eurovision contestants would have wised up and avoided the rubbish titles. But no, there were more foolishly titled songs to come. Teach-In won for the Netherlands in 1975 with 'Ding-a-Dong':

And Eric Idle had another go at Eurovision on behalf of the Pythons. In the 'Story So Far' section of The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the convoluted re-telling of the plot references Sally Lesbitt who "is now the half-brother of a distant cousin of Ray Vorn Ding-ding-a-dong, the Eurovision song, and owner of the million-pound bidet given by Hitler to Eva Brown as a bar mitzvah present during a state visit to Crufts..."

I'm not quite sure whether 'A-Ba-Ni-Bi', Israel's winning entry in 1978, qualifies for a nonsensical title. In fact, I'm not sure Israel qualifies as a European nation… Although they won again in 1979 and in 1998.

No mistaking 1984's winners as coming from a legitimately European country, singing a song with a legitimately nonsensical title. Swedish trio of brothers Herrey's - not quite a precursor to Hanson - delivered 'Diggi-Loo, Diggi-Ley'.

I almost wish there was another song with a foolish title this year. Never mind. Instead, we'll finish with the best Eurovision parody thus far. Neil Innes (you know, the seventh Python, writer of the Rutles' songs, former member of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) has a song that could almost serve as virtually any nation's Eurovision entry: 'Mr Eurovision'.

Slammin' Lambin' Sam Kekovich
gets slammed. Or does he?


Slammin Sam and Tiny Tim
Tim Bailey and Sam Kekovich


I've had too much fun picking on Tim Bailey before - that time he was plagued by broadcastis interruptus:

Baily film strip_03
Read all about this here…

This time it's not as much fun. But it's still funny: Tim delivers his spiel about how much we love a classic Australian summer with a classic Aussie barbie and a game of cricket, with our beloved lambassador, Sam Kekovich. "What's sizzling, Sammy?"

"Howdy, Tiny Tim!" is all Sam has time to say.

You can't help but know there's a batsman thinking, 'Damn, I missed Tim!' - unless it was Merrick Watts, clearing the way for his 'throw another steak on the barbie' beef campaign.

Or are they?

Why is the only change of shot the point at which the cricket ball hits him? Why not just one unbroken take?

Has this been staged?

Is it the best lamb barbecue attention-getter yet? Well, no it isn't. Actually, once you've watched it twice, you realise it's a bit sh*t, quite frankly. Interesting to see if it works.

Does it make you want to eat lamb more? Or does it make you want to punch Tim Bailey and Sam Kekovich in the head more?

I think Merrick's campaign is better:

Merrick Watts sample ad

Over to you, Gruen Transfer.


Jack Klugman's last great role:
Livia Soprano


It was sad to hear of Jack Klugman's passing on Christmas Eve. If you grew up watching Australian television during the '7os and into the '80s, Klugman was hard to miss. For starters, he was one of the male leads in the television adaptation of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. He played the unkempt sportswriter  Oscar Madison – the role Walter Matthau played in the film.

Opening sequence to
The Odd Couple. Note Don Pardo's narration

Klugman had portrayed this character on stage in the play, and so was perfect on the telly. And it was a successful series – the first, if I'm not mistaken, of Garry K. Marshall's adaptations of a successful film for the small screen. Marshall went on to adapt American Graffiti as Happy Days , and you did occasionally see a cross-over of actors. For example, Murray the Cop from Odd Couple was played by Al Molinaro, who'd go on to play Al Delvecchio, proprietor of hamburger joint Al's in Happy Days. (It was originally 'Arnold's', run by Pat Morita's Arnold character; how and why it changed name and hands is, like the disappearance of Richie Cunningham's brother Chuck after initial seasons, an unexplained mystery. But I digress…)

Klugman's other big television success was Quincy, ME (or just 'Quincy'), in which he played a county medical examiner who solved crimes from the clues left by dead bodies. Often, Dr Quincy was voicing the unpopular opinion and the more difficult course of action; when simply signing the death certificate would have been the easy way to close a case, he went the distance - looking into microscopes longer, following up hunches, ordering more tests. Kind of like a cross between Gregory House an Sherlock Holmes. (Not the Silurian Madame Vastra 'Veiled Detective' Sherlock Holmes from the Doctor Who Christmas special, mind.)

Quincy ran for more seasons than The Odd Couple and proved to be of great import: in an age before determining just how much spunk had gushed all over a crime scene, courtesy of the blue light, forensic investigation was a novel twist to both cop shows and medical dramas, and Quincy was special because of it. Often, it delivered commentary about society in the process of solving crimes. There's an episode dedicated to hate crimes of deranged juvenile delinquents, driven mad by horribly Satanic hard rock.

There's another episode that involves a micro engineered poisoned pellet being injected into Quincy's leg via a high-tech umbrella - clearly inspired by the KGB's 1978 assassination of Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov after he defected to the West and undertook sustained ridicule of the Bulgarian regime. "Cut me. I want you to cut me!" a disoriented, dying Quincy demands of his colleague, hoping the offending pellet will be detected and removed. (Other stuff happened in that episode, but for some reason that's the line seared into my brain some 20 years down the track.)

The Quincy character seemed to be pitched younger and sexier than Klugman, and creators claim there was an element of making him what would have been a 'swinging doctor' had he been dealing with living patients, rather than corpses. He lives on a boat, he flirts with all the women, and the 'sexy swingin' saxes' motif that runs through the theme music all lean towards a sex/death element. It's one that still turns up in forensic pathology crime shows (see Britain's Silent Witness, for example; although its theme music is all classical religious choir denial, of course).

That Quincy is, to a degree, playing it for laughs is evident in that opening sequence: one of the bodies he's investigating by looking at it intently while he prods with his fingers turns out, through a classic 'reveal' gag, to be a fully living, bikini-clad babe, with whom he's sharing a drink on his boat. Note, as you watch it, the 'call and response' of the music: the first phrase is on the beat, almost (for a lush, '70s TV-theme arrangement) militaristic in its delivery, because, after all, it is a cop show at its central core. But then the 'sexy swingin' saxes' motif responds - slurred notes, languid, off the beat. And it's total jazz soloing when the bikini babe is revealed. See for yourself:

Quincy, ME opening sequence.

Klugman's voice had a distinctive guttural timbre throughout his career. Turns out he suffered from throat cancer and as a result of either this, or treatment of it, he lost his voice and had to 're-learn' to talk. Interestingly, this happened in 1980 - some three years before Quincy came to an end. Did he learn quickly? Was there a sabbatical between seasons during which he could be treated?

In addition to Quincy and Oscar Madison, E!Online goes on to list other essential roles, such as Juror #5 in 12 Angry Men:

Klugman as Juror #5 in
12 Angry Men

And of course, his clutch of appearances in the original incarnation of The Twilight Zone:


'In Praise of Pip', Season 5, Episode 1, The Twilight Zone

It's disappointing that none of the obituaries I've read have acknowledged that other great role Jack Klugman nailed, and I must admit, I'd all but forgotten it. Yet somehow I found myself re-watching episodes of The Sopranos shortly after Klugman died, only to discover his brilliant portrayal of Tony Soprano's narcissistic and unfeeling mother, the ever-scheming matriarch Livia.




Before I finish, I'm going to recommend you locate episodes of Quincy. Whole seasons of them. So then you can play the Quincy Drinking Game I stumbled onto on the Internet Movie Database:


  • Take a sip every time Quincy cries about "bureaucracy".
  • Take a sip whenever Quincy asks Sam to get results back to him right away.
  • Take a sip every time Quincy is flirting with a chick way too young and attractive to be interested in a guy like Quincy.
  • Take a shot whenever Quincy gets outraged and starts yelling. Make it a double if Quincy pounds his fist against a desk.
  • Take a shot at the point in every episode when Asten is disbelieving of Quincy's theory about the death, and urges him to just sign the death certificate.
  • Take a shot whenever Sam gives Quincy some crucial information, and Quincy hurriedly runs out of the room and grabs his jacket.
  • Take another shot at the point in every episode where Asten finally realizes that Quincy was right all along and comes around to his side.
  • Take a shot every time Monahan yells something to the effect of "Dammit Quincy, stay outta this!"
  • Take a shot every time they do a camera shot of Quincy's giant black coroner's station wagon.
  • Take a shot whenever Danny makes a bad joke.
  • Take a shot when Quincy criticizes another coroner for not doing a thorough investigation.
  • Chug your drink when Quincy suggests digging up a body.
  • Chug your drink if Quincy is testifying in front of a committee.
  • Chug your drink when Quincy finally declares "It was murrrrrder, Sam!"


Shock Horror: Lily Potter shagged Hagrid!

Lily Potter Hagrid

Yep, you read it right: Lily Potter and Hagrid had an affair. The kids’ll be freaking out!

Not all of them, mind. The more precocious ones who indulge in Harry Potter fanfiction will have explored that eventuality. But I can just about hear Hagrid now: "It's an outrage! It's a scandal!" Or I would, if it wasn't about Hagrid.

The evidence is there: Hagrid did seem to take quite a shine to 'young Harry' and his companions. Wouldn't it make for an interesting prequel: Lily Potter, virtually the 'Virgin Mary' of the Gen Y generation, having given birth to the their saviour, Harry…

And who could blame Lily? Hagrid, after all, was half giant. (Bet you can guess which half!)

Of course, their relationship took place quite a while ago - back when Lily Potter was DS Jane 'Panhandle' Penhaligon and Rubeus Hagrid was Dr Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald.

That's what I realised when I revisited the series Cracker (the British series, not the US series later retitled Fitz for overseas consumption).

Garage-er than life…

A couple of months back, when Nikki Lynn Katt and Sam Tripoli were headlining at The Laugh Garage, I was invited to stay back and watch Darren Sanders, Paul Warnes, Garry Who, Ally Pinnock, Danny Grozdich, Sam and Nikki partake in a pilot for The Garage. It’s a sitcom set in a comedy club, with comedians playing themselves. Their live performances consist of actual live performances. Heck, they even let me have a cameo (as an annoying comedy nerd. Not much of a stretch there!) I hope there are plenty more eps soon.

How to deal with telemarketers Pt 2

Telemarketer: Good afternoon, Sir, how are you?

Dom Romeo: It’s quite late at night, actually – probably too late for you to be cold calling me - but I’m fine. How are you?

Telemarketer: I’m calling from the  Television Ratings Panel, I don’t know if you remember, Sir, but you answered a questionnaire in February regarding how many televisions there are in the house.

Dom Romeo: I don’t remember that.

Telemarketer: That’s okay, some people don't remember. The reason I’m calling today…

Dom Romeo: Tonight.

Telemarketer: The reason I’m calling…

Dom Romeo: Tonight.

Telemarketer: …now is to offer you the opportunity to be on our television ratings panel. You will have the power to determine what goes on television and what gets taken off.

Dom Romeo: Really? Well I’d like my own television show.

Telemarketer: I don’t think I can help you with that, Sir.

Dom Romeo: But you just said you were going to give me the power of what goes on and gets taken off the television.

Telemarketer: Yes, but I don’t think your idea for a television show fits in with programming schedules.

Dom Romeo: You haven’t heard my idea yet.

Telemarketer: Sir, what I’m ringing for…

Dom Romeo: Is to waste my valuable time, evidently.

Telemarketer: Sir, we think you qualify to contribute to television ratings collection. Wouldn’t you be interested in that?

Dom Romeo (in Terry-Jones’s-falsetto-The-Virgin-Mandy-a-ratbag-from-Life-of-Brian-voice): Well why didn’t you say so? Come right in.

Telemarketer: What was that, Sir?

Dom Romeo: Nothing. Say I am interested in being on your ratings panel. What does it entail?

Telemarketer: We affix some hardware to your television, and give you a special remote control with a button you have to press every time you watch television. Do you think you could do that?

Dom Romeo: I probably could. How does the hardware come to me? Who installs it? How does it work?

Telemarketer: They’re all good questions, Sir. We would tell you when and who would come to install it; they would show you identification. You would be there when they installed it. They would show you how it works and answer all your questions.

Dom Romeo: Okay.

Telemarketer: Now we just need to determine if you qualify to be part of the ratings panel. Essentially, your viewing habits would be multiplied by 5000 to reflect your demographic.

Dom Romeo: Right.

Telemarketer: Would everyone else in your household be able to press the specific button on the remote control?

Dom Romeo: I believe so.

Telemarketer: Okay, so how many televisions do you have in your household?

Dom Romeo: Just the one. But I watch a lot of ABC iView online.

Telemarketer: Oh, Sir, good catch. You don’t really qualify to be part of our Ratings Panel.

Dom Romeo: Just what I thought. Because your company is owned and run by the three commercial networks, and I’ve known for quite some time that television ratings are a crock, particularly when I hear the likes of Ray Hadley and other AM talkback radio types blathering about figures – brought to us courtesy of some sponsor – in disbelief that the more interesting show outrates the same old boring crap during morning cab rides. That's why there's shit-all on television whenever I want to actually watch it, and why I mostly resort to ABC iView when I actually have some viewing time, late at night.

Telemarketer: Thank you for your time, Sir.

Dom Romeo: Just my time? Not my opinions? They aren’t as expensive as the time you’ve just wasted for me, but they’re worth noting. Jot them down and report back to your employers.

Telemarketer: I’m sorry to have bothered you.

Dom Romeo: Indeed. Go pedal your snake-oil elsewhere.

Of course, if I actually had the power to put something good on television, I’d start by producing Danny McGinlay’s cooking show. And if I had qualified for the ratings hardware, I’d be raising the figures of his next television appearance by 5000. Here’s a clip of him in action.