Narrator of Stop Laughing, This Is Serious (ABC1, 9pm), Eric Bana, begins the show by saying, “We Aussies love our comedy”, a reasonably uncontroversial statement, if one that leads a viewer to wonder whether this is a unique national trait, or people in other countries might quite enjoy a bit of comedy too.
Bana follows this up with “Today, it’s up there with the best in the world”, a slightly more contestable claim. But yes, the story of Australian comedy is a long and sometimes amusing one, classic moments nestling snugly up against horrible cringes decade after decade.
This show attempts to chart that story, happily dredging up plenty of great memories for comedy fans, capturing the thoughts of some of the country’s most-feted comedians, and occasionally exaggerating how much difference a joke can make.
The first episode, titled “Faark, faark” looks at the comedy of rebellion. The topic of political comedy brings out the usual suspects: Norman Gunston on the Parliament steps for the Dismissal, which is one of the more extraordinary moments in entertainment history; and the Chaser’s legendary security breach at APEC in 2007, a classic case of satire, in the words of Andrew Denton “showing that the balloon can be pricked”. Read more: www.smh.com.au