Courier man pack­ages the laughs

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

COM­EDY is all in the de­liv­ery for Paul Fenech. Af­ter let­ting a bunch of bungling pizza de­liv­ery driv­ers loose in the SBS com­edy Pizza, the ac­tor and di­rec­tor is back with a new set of in­com­pe­tent work­ers on wheels in Swift and Shift Couri­ers.

Fenech de­scribes the nine-part se­ries as Pizza meets The Of­fice.

The show is set in a busy city courier com­pany led by short­swear­ing de­pot man­ager Keith, played by Ian Turpie.

‘‘I was try­ing to think how to show the av­er­age worker’s life on dif­fer­ent lev­els, from the boss all the way down to the driver on the road, and find a place that is go­ing to have the most dra­mas,’’ he says.

‘‘Couri­ers are the best be­cause they’re prob­a­bly the low­est in the food chain when it comes to whitecol­lar work. The low­est end is al­ways the best place for com­edy.’’

The Swift and Shift cast fea­tures plenty of fa­mil­iar faces, in­clud­ing Amanda Keller, An­gry An­der­son and for­mer pop star Melissa Tkautz.

Though it has Fenech’s trade­mark blunt, of­ten cul­tur­ally charged hu­mour, he says the show is ‘‘not as scary as Pizza’’.

‘‘ Pizza had so much testos­terone you grew hair on your arms just watch­ing it,’’ he says.

‘‘This show ( Swift and Shift) ac­tu­ally re­minded me of a very mod­ern ver­sion of all those old English come­dies we used to have, such as Are You Be­ing Served? and Carry On, which had lots of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. This has that sort of dy­namic, but with a lot of fa­mil­iar Aus­tralian char­ac­ters.

‘‘I’ve been watch­ing all the com­pe­ti­tion lately and to me it’s al­ways the same thing— all th­ese guys in ivory tow­ers looking down on the rest of so­ci­ety and do­ing a pale im­i­ta­tion.

‘‘I like to think we re­flect it much closer. I get a lot of non-ac­tors in crazy shapes and sizes and eth­nic­i­ties be­cause to me that’s the real Aus­tralia.

‘‘All the peo­ple who work in load­ing docks and drive around in the heat and work in crappy lit­tle offices— this show is for them.’’

Though he’s made his name in com­edy, Fenech says he’d like to try dra­matic roles.

‘‘I’d love to be­come Aus­tralia’s Joe Pesci. Where was I in Un­der­belly, mate? I look ex­actly like one of the real crims,’’ he says with a laugh.

‘‘I’d give any­thing a go re­ally. I’ve been rea­son­ably lucky— I’ve had an awe­some ca­reer so far. I’m one of th­ese guys who has no con­nec­tions to the in­dus­try. I wasn’t a guy who went to an act­ing school.

‘‘I was just some guy in the back­ground who worked his way up.

‘‘Peo­ple are now say­ing, ‘He’s one of the stars of the show’. I don’t see my­self that way at all. I’m just a reg­u­lar stooge in my own brain.’’ Swift and Shift Couri­ers, M SBS, Mon­day, 8.30pm Lo­cal com­edy Du­ra­tion: 30 min­utes

Low­down: couri­ers are last in the peck­ing or­der, says Paul Fenech.

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