Katering to the masses
Cult comedians Kate Mclennan and Kate Mccartney on fame (and famous fans), how they choose targets to satire and their happily co-dependent way of working.
Kate Mccartney has been waiting impatiently for an order of cricket flour – which is, as the term suggests, powder made from ground-up crickets – to land on her doorstep. The self- confessed food intolerant isn’t munching on crickets for dietary reasons, but for a cause; she’ll happily tell anyone within earshot that the world has just 12 years to avert a climate-change catastrophe – a prediction that is supported by the United Nations.
“I’ve been waiting a month,” Mccartney, 38, moans half-jokingly to Stellar. “It hasn’t arrived. If the planet goes to sh*t, it’s because these f*cking people won’t send me the cricket flour. I’m very upset about it.”
“I’m just going to grind you up some crickets,” says fellow actor, writer and allround partner in crime Kate Mclennan, also 38, in an eager tone. Mclennan is, in fact, known as the “intolerable foodie” of the two, but in this instance the tables have been turned – she isn’t sold on the concoction at all. “They have them at Petbarn. They give them to rats or something. I mean, who eats crickets?”
The banter between Mccartney and Mclennan, known collectively as The Kates, flows just as easily off camera as it does on. The pair is most widely recognised for their online comedy series The Katering Show, a two-season cult hit that parodied cooking shows and food fads such as the Thermomix and quitting sugar. The pair – who starred in, wrote, produced and directed the series – peppered it with their trademark cringe, off-the-wall humour. (“Fun fact:
beetroots are potatoes filled with blood.”) And with over 10 million views on Youtube alone, The Katering Show collected fans around the world – singer Katy Perry once contacted The Kates wanting to appear on the series, and then ghosted them when they eagerly agreed.
Currently in the midst of “editing hell” for the second season of their ABC show Get Krack!n, which lampoons morning TV, the duo don’t need to worry about ghosting guests anymore. High-profile names such as Kat Stewart, Miranda Tapsell, Sam Neill, Hannah Gadsby and Nazeem Hussain appeared in the last season, and there’s a spate of new faces set for next year’s return run.
For The Kates, moving from food to morning TV was a natural progression. “We were looking for a project that would allow us to incorporate other people into the mix, so it wasn’t just the two of us,” Mclennan explains. “We got to the end of our chain with speaking about social issues through the lens of food. The subject matter morning TV was handling was a bit more explosive, and the people on morning TV have suddenly become these huge celebrities. It piqued our interest, being able to satirise these tropes that morning TV employ.”
The pair also see Get Krack!n as a way to provide a platform not just for their own views, but others who don’t usually enjoy a large audience. “We figured we’d been given a space and we don’t know for how long,” Mccartney says. “We had a desire and responsibility to do something good with it.”
“For us, it’s about stepping away,” Mclennan adds. “Hopefully we’ll do more work behind the scenes to help people along on that front and support people to get their work out there.”
Even though they had mutual friends and worked on the same project when Mccartney was a background artist at an animation company and Mclennan was a voice actor, it wasn’t until the pair clicked on Twitter that they met in person. Over a bottle of wine and a long chat, Mccartney says, they realised their “viewpoints and voices worked together. We were in very similar life stages at that point. And we evolved as individuals at the same pace.” They’d both tried “working with other people – and it didn’t work out”. The pair both live in Melbourne, have three-year-old daughters (Mccartney’s Millie and Mclennan’s Dusty) and credit their mothers for “unpaid labour”.
From that initial meeting, a production company was born, followed by a web series called Bleak and eventually The Katering Show. Spending so much time together might not be for everyone, but it works for them. “We both have a lot of respect for each other. We’re very caring towards each other and quite loyal,” Mclennan tells Stellar. “It’s a very important relationship, and we look after it the same way we would any close relationship you have in your life.”
In fact, they may as well be married given the time they spend together. Not that Mccartney is a fan of the whole shebang. “No-one needs to get married,” she says. “[Actually] let me clarify that. I have no issue with domestic partnership – I just don’t want a f*cking wedding. If someone made me have a wedding with Mclennan, I would end everything.”
Juggling kids, partners and a successful TV show has produced at least one unavoidable side effect. “We have no friends,” Mclennan says. Mccartney concurs: “I did a calculation about the last time I went out for brunch. And it was four years ago.”
After the upcoming season of Get Krack!n launches, the duo have an eightpart dramedy and a few smaller projects in the works, including one where Mccartney is “grabbing a camera and ranting down the lens about climate breakdown. I feel like climate breakdown deserves a joke path.” They will also jump on a plane to LA to pitch a few ideas.
Beyond that, they’re simply looking forward to reacquainting themselves with their families. “And trying to get my dog to not piss on the couch,” Mclennan says of her new puppy. “Trying not to see each other for maybe two days,” Mccartney adds with a laugh. “And then the muscle memory will kick in.”
Get Krack!n Season 2 premieres 9pm, Wednesday February 6, on the ABC.
“We have no friends. I haven’t been out to brunch in years”
WEARS (right) dress, KATE MCCARTNEY (02) KATE (at 9327 left) MCLENNAN Sandro 3377 WEARS Zara Kenzo top, pants, zara.com/au; myer.com.au; her own ring (opposite) KATE MCLENNAN WEARS Lonely knit, lonelylabel.com; Kate Sylvester skirt, katesylvester. com; Zara sandals, as before KATE MCCARTNEY WEARS Camilla and Marc dress, camillaandmarc.com; Zara sandals, as before
(from top) Kate Mclennan and Kate Mccartney in The Katering Show in 2016; with Celia Pacquola in an episode of Get Krack!n last year.