A funny affair
Shane Jacobson and Stephen Curry enjoy plenty of laughs on and off screen, writes Tiffany Dunk
There’s a solemn air in the room as Shane Jacobson and Stephen Curry prepare to film a sketch for Open Slather.
Clad in priest robes and down on bent knees, they almost whisper the lines as cameras start rolling inside the Melbourne church set.
But as the pair debate facts about cats, mortality and more, the stifled chuckles of the crew threaten to ruin the first take.
And once the director calls cut, the duo immediately bust out of character to crack jokes — often at the other’s expense — before settling back into straight-faced mode to film another take.
The “men of the cloth” aka Father Rankin (Curry) and Father Phipps (Jacobson) sketches have become a favourite of Open Slather fans. An idea they came up with together, the duo have found endless fodder for their priest characters who enjoy quoting facts found online to fill in time between sermons.
“Originally it was just about general people, people who can’t help but give you facts the whole time,” says Jacobson. “Google and Wikipedia are the places they go to get it from. So they are 100 per cent certain, iron-clad guarantee positive that the information they’re giving you is right, even though they got it from an inconceivably unreliable source — the internet.”
Jacobson has a particular passion for the subject of the “misinformation age” as he calls it. Early in his career, Jacobson’s Wikipedia page stated the actor was born in Bonnie Doon, the small town made famous in Curry’s film The Castle.
For years, not only was this “fact” published in every article about him, but Jacobson found Wikipedia unwilling to take it down.
“I could not convince them it wasn’t fact,” he says. “And then when it would change, it would end up reverting to the original.”
“Also, on Wikipedia they keep saying that my work is s---,” adds Curry.
“Well, there are some facts on there,” retorts Jacobson.
The easy repartee between the two actors is born of hours spent working together. In addition to Open Slather, they’ve previously co-starred in ABC drama The Time Of Their Lives. So enamoured do they seem with each other, in fact, that various cast and crew tell Switched On that the pair has a “beautiful bromance” going on.
“A bromance has an innocent kind of quality to it,” muses Curry when we ask about their friendship. “This is far less innocent — it’s been going on for too long.” “It’s an affair,” adds Jacobson. Joking that he’s the only one who enjoys listening to Jacobson’s endless stories, Curry says he gives advice to the rest of the cast if they get trapped on the end of one of his co-worker’s rants.
“When you’ve heard the bits you want to hear, just walk away,” he cautions.
With 12 relatively new comedy faces among the Open Slather cast, advice from the more established cast is always welcomed. George H. Xanthis, who is working on his first TV comedy gig, says he’s found both Curry and Jacobson invaluable for advice when it comes to writing and preparing his own sketches.
“These are people I grew up idolising,” he says.
“To have these comedy greats have conversations and work on stuff with you is great.”
However, producer Rick McKenna says that while the younger cast were thrilled to meet the veteran actors in the group — which also includes Glenn Robbins, Magda Szubanski and Gina Riley — it was a very different reaction from the elder cast.
“All the older guys were going, ‘Oh my God, look how young they are — I hope they’re not funny,” he recalls.
Both Curry and Jacobson say they feel the pressure to up their A-game thanks to the talented newcomers on set.
“They all deserve their own applause for being independently fantastic,” says Jacobson. “They’re far better than us … it’s going to kick us out of the industry.”
“No, it’s going to stop us from writing any sketches that we have to work alongside them basically,” cautions Curry.
With that last crack, they’re off to their shared trailer to prepare for their next scene, laughing and swapping ideas as they walk away.
And with Foxtel having commissioned another 10 episodes of Open Slather, which returns this week, it seems the bromance isn’t in danger of ending any time soon.
“A bromance has an
innocent kind of quality to it. This is far less innocent — it’s been going on
for too long” STEPHEN CURRY ON SHANE JACOBSON