Low fly­ing hu­mour is stuck on the ground

The Pam Ann Show 9.30pm, Com­edy

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

JOKES about fly­ing have been around for a long time: ‘‘ It’s quite pos­si­ble that it was about the time that Icarus got out the wax mak­ing kit that some­one first no­ticed how bad air­line food is.’’

‘‘ I just flew in from Mi­ami and boy, are my arms tired.’’ ‘‘ Man, those whis­tles on life jack­ets are point­less.’’ ‘‘ How come Cus­toms asks you if you’re car­ry­ing any il­le­gal drugs; as if you’d just ad­mit it.’’

The point is, avi­a­tion is a cor­ner­stone of com­edy, so if it’s your fo­cus, you’d bet­ter come up with some­thing fresh. On the strength of the de­but episode of The Pam Ann Show, a va­ri­ety show cen­tred on the flight at­ten­dant al­ter ego of co­me­dian Caro­line Reid, that’s not the case.

I’m loath to sledge a new com­edy on the ba­sis of its first episode, when it may sim­ply still be find­ing its feet, but af­ter watch­ing this, it’s clear it has a long way to go.

The show, which takes place on a set decked out to look like a plane, is a mix of Ann’s stand-up rou­tine, au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tion and games and in­ter­views. In fact, it packs quite a bit into its half-hour slot, with the re­sult that ev­ery­thing feels half-de­vel­oped.

Ad­mit­tedly, I have never seen one of Pam Ann’s live shows. She has a huge gay cult fol­low­ing and per­haps she’s a hoot with them. But with a Cap­tain Rim­ming and lots of talk about rear en­try, The Pam Ann Show causes you to long nos­tal­gi­cally for the so­phis­ti­cated in­nu­endo of Are You Be­ing Served?

I don’t have a prob­lem with rib­ald hu­mour but it has to be in­no­va­tive and funny. Sad to say, de­scrib­ing some­one as a ‘‘ try­sex­ual’’ be­cause they’ll try any­thing — which comes cour­tesy of sex ex­pert Cindy Pan when Ann in­ter­views her — is not. In fact I’m fairly sure David Bowie said it decades ago.

Nor is there any­thing orig­i­nal about pre­tend­ing to be a Ja­panese woman and say­ing ‘‘ es­cara­tor’’. That is some­thing I can’t at­tribute to Bowie, but can to my neigh­bour in the mid-1980s, and it seemed cheap and racist then, too. Chris Lil­ley barely got away with play­ing an Asian char­ac­ter on We Can Be He­roes , but that’s be­cause he did some­thing more with

The Pam Ann Show Ricky Wong than re­place l with r.

The show is not com­pletely without charm, how­ever. Ann’s in­ter­view with Matthew Mitchum, the first openly gay Aus­tralian Olympic com­peti­tor, is good fun, breezy and in­ter­est­ing, which hints at what this show could have been.

It would be nice to see some more gay-friendly shows on tele­vi­sion, but it would also be nice if The Pam Ann Show was fun­nier. Per­haps, in time, both will hap­pen.

Kerrie Mur­phy

Un­o­rig­i­nal: Caro­line Reid and friends in

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