As we celebrate all things 1990s this month, we couldn’t fail to mention an Aussie phenomenon from the first part of the decade, the D-Generation’s Saturday night staple The Late Show.
Several “best bits” from the show are available in a fab triple-DVD set that won’t even cost you anywhere near fifty bucks – fifty bucks! – and we trundled back through the collection to relive the days when 10pm on a Saturday night was early for us…
A phenomenon occurred in Australia in 1992 and 1993, and every Saturday night hundreds of restaurateurs, club owners and publicans around the country would stare gloomily at their empty venues, wondering just where the hell everybody was. Then word got out, they were all hanging at home watching the latest offering from the D-Generation, The Late Show, before eventually stumbling out around midnight for their nights on the town.
After years doing radio, the chance for the D-Generation to return to the nation’s screens came up and The Late Show was born – albeit with a slightly re-jigged cast. Essentially an excuse for a bunch of friends to get together and piss-fart around in front of a national audience for an hour every week, it worked exceedingly well based on this very looseness – you never knew what would happen next (and it often seemed neither did they) – combined with some often times sharp as a tack comedy, some brilliant impersonations and what kind of inspired silliness? Oh, just general inspired silliness.
While the stuffy establishment despised it, with one Melbourne critic going so far as to describe it as a “Melbourne comedy hour that is 55 minutes too long”, The Late Show struck a chord with a humour-starved public who had been labouring under the excruciating lameness of shows such as The Comedy Company and those things Australia excels at, dreadful and exceedingly unfunny sitcoms, for way too long.
“Fans of the show will be absolutely delighted with this package.”
Finally those three worn out old VHS tapes of The Best Bits of The Late Show can be turfed, as they are all included here, along with an extra 46 minutes entitled Some More Bits (a collection of bits and pieces displaying an even looser batch of snippets from the show) and quite the number of bonus bits besides – plus Rush remix The Olden Days and, even better, Bluey reborn as Bargearse!
Whilst not all of the greatest moments are included here (damn those finicky lawyers!), anybody who hasn’t seen the show for a while should have heaps of fun when reacquainting themselves with regular segments the likes of the sports-mad Graeme and the Colonel, the Boony-worshipping Oz Brothers, the Evil Knievel-inspired Shitscared, Shirty the Slightly Aggressive Bear, Muckraking, Mick and Tony’s street interviews, Pissweak World, Wallaby Jack, Tommy G at the news desk and, of course, the inspired ode to crap kiddie television that was Charlie the Wonder Dog – starring the great Bud Tingwell, of course.
However, it wasn’t just these regular bits that fans fondly remember. Most of the truly inspired moments of The Late Show came in the form of one-offs, and this collection doesn’t disappoint. We could reel them off until Dufflecoat Supreme finishes his run in the Cup, however suffice to say the likes of Glengarry Glenn Ridge, Dickhead Tonight, the Mr Whippy Grand Prix, Jane on Sale of the Century, the Bart Simpson undies incident, Uncle Alberto’s house, and Healthy, Wealthy and Woggy are all here.
Then there are the many of the fabulously over-the-top impersonations of the likes of everybody from political figures ranging from Jeff ‘flag on the bonnet’ Kennett, Yassar Arafat, Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton and F.W. De Klerk, to sports faves such as Imran ‘like a tiger’ Khan, Warwick Capper and Bruce McAvaney, to others such as Woody Allen, Oprah, Dick Smith, a frighteningly faithful Robert De Niro and the prosthetics-fest that was Tony Martin’s take on Arnie and his love of moofies and Ivan Reitman (who, of course, is a gee-nee-oos).
Musical moments abound, with snippets of almost all the ‘musical mix-ups’, including such inspired presentations as Rex Hunt plummeting through T-Rex’s Get It On, former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner (R.I.P.) with Joan Jett’s I Love Rock’n’Roll (complete with the utterly frightening David White on guitar), Ron Barassi delivering Shirley Bassey’s Thunderball as only he could and cricketer Mike Whitney’s heart-wrenching howling of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. It wasn’t just the special guests who got into the act either, with REM, Frente, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Harry Connick Jr and even the Bard from Barking, Billy Bragg, all copping the treatment from The Late Show‘s cast.
Suffice to say the D-Generation crew brought a certain comedy featuring genuinely affectionate stabs at Australian culture home for us all, and importantly wanted us to be a part of the joke, not just distant bystanders. Of course, years after The Late Show they went on to produce two latter-day classic Australian films, The Castle and The Dish, and we hope that more is still to come.
Anyway, we could keep going on for days yabbering about all this three-disc set is stuffed to the brim with – but we won’t, as the editor will start snipping wildly. No! Not the good scissors!