OLD PALS STILL LAUGHING IT UP
Name Aussie television’s great comedy duos and Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton immediately spring to mind.
But Shaun Micallef and Francis Greenslade would also have to be on the list. The pair has been performing together for more than 30 years.
Micallef is the creative force and Greenslade the perfect foil in Full Frontal, The Micallef Program, Welcher & Welcher, Micallef Tonight, and The ExPM. Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell is the jewel in the crown — wildly popular and about to start its ninth season.
“I met Shaun at university,” Greenslade says. “We were doing university revues and he was writing stuff (comedy material) back then so it was quite clear he was a standout.
“It was such fun that I would turn up to rehearsals an hour early and there was no one there except Shaun. He was there waiting too.
“That was a sign that we were both obsessed. When you meet at such an early stage your senses of comedy develop together.”
Greenslade plays a range of wacky characters on Mad As
Hell, including Zebedee MacPherson, former supplier of urine to the Russian Olympic team, and Sir Bobo Gargle, Vice Rear Cabin Boy in Charge of Border Security. “I love doing Bobo because he isn’t onedimensional,” Greenslade says. “You can do a bit more with him. Having done Shaun’s lines for so long, I think I understand how to do them.
“He is one of the few comedians in Australia who writes beautiful, funny lines. A lot of people can come up with a funny concept but Shaun takes real care about how he will express that concept.
“You have got to do the line as he wrote it. If you take a comma away or change a word the music of it is destroyed and you don’t get the laugh. He really is a comedian of language.”
“I think there is an assumption that because it
(Mad As Hell) is so fast and light and breezy that we are adlibbing but we’re not,” Greenslade says. “We are doing the script as it is given to us. We’ve been working so long that Shaun does know all our voices and is pretty good at writing for our characters.”
Comedy isn’t Greenslade’s only skill.
The 55-year-old has also carved out a successful drama career with credits including Blue Heelers, Water Rats, Marshall Law and most memorably as Brian Gross alongside Denise Scott on
Winners & Losers.
“I enjoy drama enormously because there is a freedom to it,” Greenslade says.