OLD PALS STILL LAUGH­ING IT UP

Herald Sun - Hit - - COVER STORY - /COLIN VICKERY

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.

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