Shaun Mi­callef

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE BOX - SHAN­NON MOL­LOY NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

Camp­ing deep in the woods in a part of the US south few tourists ever go, with hard­core Chris­tians pre­par­ing for the apoca­lypse, might be the odd­est thing Shaun Mi­callef has ever done.

For his new SBS minis­eries Stair­way To Heaven, the co­me­dian and TV pre­sen­ter trav­elled the world to ex­plore faith, from Mor­monism to spir­i­tual heal­ing and all the bits in be­tween.

The fi­nal episode is de­voted to fun­da­men­tal­ists who be­lieve the end of times has al­ready be­gun. “It’s quite a gen­uine be­lief — I don’t think they’re stir­ring this up to sell stuff,” Mi­callef says.

What was it like to ex­pe­ri­ence that? I’d never seen a real gun close up un­til that oc­ca­sion. To see so many was con­fronting. I was wan­der­ing along with one fel­low who ex­plained how he had bul­lets that ex­plode and cause the most tis­sue dam­age. I didn’t sleep much that night, as much due to trep­i­da­tion as to how cold and un­com­fort­able it was. When you’re sur­rounded by peo­ple who feel un­der siege, in this weird and re­mote moun­tain re­gion that feels a lit­tle De­liv­er­ance, it’s sur­real.

Did they seem scared about the im­pend­ing end of life? It al­most seems to be wel­comed. They want the rap­ture to hap­pen, they want to be right. They’re pre­pared and feel they’ll be the first to find sal­va­tion.

One of the dooms­day­ers you met pre­dicted the anti-Christ will be­come the head of the United Na­tions. Was he talk­ing about Kevin Rudd? Well, now you men­tion it, maybe we should all start wor­ry­ing. Al­though I think the chances of Kevin be­ing anointed to that po­si­tion are pretty lim­ited now.

Where will you go when the rap­ture comes? Back to your home­town of Adelaide? That sounds like a pretty good start. It’s a ques­tion of whether you run to­wards the rap­ture or away from it. But I have a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that there won’t be a rap­ture. Are peo­ple al­ways happy to talk to a co­me­dian do­ing a show about reli­gion? We were for­tu­nate that we’d done the orig­i­nal (fea­ture­length) doco and could use it as an ex­am­ple or call­ing card of what we wanted to do this time. Peo­ple knew I wasn’t go­ing to take the piss, and be­ing over­seas helps be­cause ob­vi­ously no one has any idea who the hell I am.

Did you find the an­swers you were look­ing for? I do come to some sort of con­clu­sion, an epiphany. It’s not quite where I thought we’d end up but it was quite sat­is­fy­ing.

WATCH SHAUN MI­CALLEF’S STAIR­WAY TO HEAVEN, SBS, WED­NES­DAY, 8.35PM

“They want the rap­ture to hap­pen, they want to be right. They’re pre­pared”

MI­CALLEF MEETS THE BE­LIEV­ERS

Shaun Mi­callef on dooms­day watch.

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