Michael Veitch

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - SHAN­NON MOL­LOY EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

For much of the 1990s, Michael Veitch and a rag­tag bunch of young comics dom­i­nated the small screen with a string of suc­cess­ful sketch shows like Fast For­ward and Full Frontal.

Each week, they of­fered satir­i­cal takes on cul­ture as well as mem­o­rable send-ups of politi­cians, pop stars and celebri­ties. A gen­er­a­tion of ma­jor stars was born.

Then it seemed the golden era of TV sketch com­edy was over. Many tried to find sim­i­lar suc­cess but failed. Now, to­gether with a few new­bies, Veitch and his old comic col­leagues Gina Ri­ley and Magda Szuban­ski are back for Open Slather on Fox­tel.

Why do you think it’s been so long since we’ve seen sketch com­edy on tele­vi­sion? It’s funny how th­ese shows tend to come and go in waves. I don’t know why some of the re­cent vari­a­tions haven’t res­onated as well with peo­ple. I think a lot of it is to do with tim­ing, and the tim­ing feels right. I was just talk­ing with Magda the other day how of­ten we’d all talk about want­ing to do sketch show on TV again. And now, here we are. I think there’s def­i­nitely a need for it.

What can we ex­pected Open Slather to fo­cus on? There’s so much hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment that’s beg­ging to be taken on. My God — politi­cians th­ese days al­most send them­selves up. There’s hardly even a need for us to try very hard. I’m ex­cited about that … there’s so much pre­ten­sion to poke fun at. And re­al­ity TV … that’s a gold­mine.

Do you think hu­mour has changed since the glory days of TV com­edy in the 1990s? I think hu­mour is more clever but also much more cau­tious. Australia has gone from be­ing a laid-back coun­try to one that takes ev­ery­thing so se­ri­ously.

Is it scary then to ven­ture into that en­vi­ron­ment with the in­ten­tion of tak­ing the mickey? Oh, sure, it’s scary, but it’s also ex­cit­ing!

One of your most recog­nis­able char­ac­ters is Wayne the gay air­line stew­ard. Do you think he’d ex­ist to­day? Prob­a­bly not. I don’t think it would go down too well. There would be many considerations to take into ac­count and the spirit of the char­ac­ter would be lost. Over the years, I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate that some peo­ple were of­fended by him at the time. That mor­ti­fies me and I’ve apol­o­gised to any­one who told me that they were up­set. That’s cer­tainly not what I in­tended. Wayne was

meant with af­fec­tion and fun.”

You’re back to­gether with Magda and Gina. What’s that like? The young ones on the show are call­ing us the ‘her­itage cast’. That’s a com­pli­ment, I think. For us oldies, the first cou­ple of days were like a school re­u­nion. It’s amaz­ing how quickly we clicked back into a rhythm.

And what do you think of the newer mem­bers of the cast? They’re fan­tas­tic. It’s been great watch­ing them find their feet. They’re very good but we’ve taken our ex­pe­ri­ence and helped them loosen up a bit. We’ve ruf­fled their hair, both phys­i­cally and metaphor­i­cally, to teach them that there’s no grace in sketch com­edy.

OPEN SLATHER, THE COM­EDY CHAN­NEL, SUN­DAY, 7.30PM

Michael Veitch in

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