Watts back in power
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