Watts back in power

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News - COLIN VICK­ERY

COM­EDY is a se­ri­ous busi­ness — just ask Mer­rick Watts and Tim Ross. The pair, bet­ter known as Mer­rick and Rosso, were dev­as­tated by the fail­ure of their 2005 Chan­nel 10 skit se­ries The B Team.

It’s only now, more than three years later, that they have licked their wounds and put that de­ba­cle be­hind them.

The duo’s The Mer­rick and Rosso Show has started its sec­ond sea­son on Fox­tel. The first se­ries de­liv­ered the high­est rat­ings of any pro­gram in the his­tory of the Com­edy Chan­nel.

The suc­cess fol­lows a pe­riod of in­tro­spec­tion by the pair af­ter The B Team dis­as­ter— one that saw them re­assess their en­tire com­edy out­put. They re­treated for a year to sort out what went wrong. Af­ter all, their ear­lier Mer­rick and Rosso Un­planned had run for three sea­sons on Nine.

‘‘At Nine we were quite young and brash and had lots of con­fi­dence, but by the time we got to Ten, I don’t The Mer­rick and Rosso Show, M The Com­edy Chan­nel, Thurs­day, 8.30pm Com­edy va­ri­ety show Du­ra­tion: 30 min­utes know what hap­pened to those guys — they went miss­ing,’’ Ross says.

‘‘Some­where along the way we lost our mojo and con­fi­dence and it pretty much showed all the way through that thing ( The B Team). We made so many mis­takes. They were hum­bling and we paid for it in our own way, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.’’

The pair de­cided they had been too am­bi­tious with The B Team. Skits weren’t their forte.

They also felt that Ten hadn’t given them the nec­es­sary sup­port. Maybe, too, they had spent too much time think­ing about what they wanted to do and too lit­tle time con­sid­er­ing their fans.

‘‘We lit­er­ally had this con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, ‘What do we do? Where are we in­ter­ested in go­ing?’ ’’ Watts says. ‘‘We had to re­learn our skills.’’

The pair even­tu­ally de­cided they wanted an­other shot at TV. This time, though, it would be a re­turn to ba­sics. There would be more laid­back chat like Mer­rick and Rosso Un­planned and fewer B Team-type skits. They also needed a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment— some­thing they felt Fox­tel would pro­vide, rather than a rat­ings-driven com­mer­cial net­work.

‘‘We had to be aware of what not to throw away and what our au­di­ence likes about us,’’ Watts says. ‘‘Some­times you can do tele­vi­sion that you want to do but it may not be what your au­di­ence wants or ex­pects from you.’’

Watts de­cided to go solo as well with a stint on The Hol­low­men, an ap­pear­ance on Thank God You’re Here and an episode of Un­der­belly: A Tale of Two Cities.

‘‘It (ap­pear­ing in The Hol­low­men with the Work­ing Dog team) has been very help­ful to learn about my­self and help to de­fine what Tim and I do.’’ Watts says. ‘‘Tim and I have our strengths and weak­nesses and it has re­ally helped. That was a great les­son I learnt last year.’’

Back to ba­sics: Mer­rick Watts (left) and Tim Ross are back on top af­ter one of their shows flopped. Pic­ture: BEN SWIN­NER­TON

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