‘Abbott’ set for starring role in new comedy show
NO politician is safe from comedian Paul McCarthy (pictured), who has sharpened up his Tony Abbott impersonation for the ABC’s new satirical comedy show Wednesday Night Fever. And there are no political party alliances either. McCarthy played Kevin Rudd in the ABC series At Home With Julia, having impersonated the former PM for Comedy Inc, which in itself spawned a corporate gig career on the side. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is also part of McCarthy’s repertoire. But it’s Abbott who is in the firing line for the sevenepisode comedy show. Wednesday Night Fever combines political impersonations, satirical characters and musical comedy, based on the week’s political and cultural events, both nationally and internationally. The half-hour program is filmed before a live studio audience and is hosted by Sammy J. The regulars include McCarthy, his At Home With Julia co-star Amanda Bishop, Genevieve Morris ( The Late Shift) and Heath Franklin (Chopper of The Ronnie Johns Half Hour). ‘‘I’ve been doing lots of Tony Abbott stuff for this show,’’ says McCarthy, breaking into the impersonation (which is excellent) midway through the interview. Because each episode runs for just 30 minutes McCarthy says it makes for a punchier and sharper show, without any of the flat spots that can occur with an hour-long program. Sammy J’s job is to direct the conversational traffic and quickly switch between segments, which McCarthy says worked extremely well when they trialled the series with a live audience. ‘‘The (fictional) characters are actually placed in among the live audience. We found that was a nice way to introduce characters who are more generic and then we have interviews with the impersonators of famous people. We kind of get to have a pretty broad spectrum of ways of re-interpreting the sketch format.’’ While McCarthy started out his career in television as an actor on Neighbours, he says he is enjoying the comedy aspect. He has flipped between the serious side to acting, such as appearing in an Underbelly telemovie, Crackerjack and Saddle Club, to satirical series including Comedy Inc. ‘‘That’s just about trying to make a living really,’’ McCarthy jokes. ‘‘I started out doing normal acting stuff and fell into comedy and doing impersonations, which seems to have worked well.’’
Wednesday Night Fever: Wednesdays, 9.30pm, ABC1.