Home' Be : Issue 8 Contents underwear sni ng left her bored and disappointed.
"Perhaps shock is the new comedy. If so, I'll take endless
repeats of awlty owers thanks all the same," she writes on
the ABC site.
Denying that she is humourless and that comedy cannot
be analysed, Davis says she did like earlier versions of e
Chaser's War on verything, such as CNNNN and their political
doorstops. But she saw more recent work, such as the 'Wish
Foundation' skit on terminally ill children, as controversy
for its own sake and e Chaser trying to top its APEC jail
"Whether the Wish Foundation went too far or not,
I just didn't think it was particularly funny," says Davis.
"But it got them on the news. Most comedy has a use-by
date, whether it is ath & im, Seinfeld or e O ce. ey have
to know when to stop and the smart ones do."
Interestingly, Davis has made the TV mockumentary
genre in Australia, and overseas, her field of specialist
research and has written a PhD thesis
entitled 'Televisual Control: e
Resistance of the Mockumentary'.
Taking an historical perspective, she
has researched Nor man Gunston,
Graham Kennedy and Edna Everage,
through to the present day, with
shows such as Chris Lilley's Summer
Heights High and We Can e Heroes and
e O ce.
Davis has also been awarded a two -year CQUniversity
Research Advancement Award Scheme Early Career
Fellowship, to start in June 2010, where she will convene the
Cultural Studies and Education Special Interest Group at the
newly-for med Learning and Teaching Education Research
Centre. " e fellowship will allow me to further research
the history of the mockumentary and hopefully what may
happen with it in the future as a TV form," she says.
" ere hasn't been a lot written about it. Comedy is
often seen as the poor cousin of TV drama, but it has always
interested me. It's still a vital part of the fabric of society, so
I think it is still really important to look at it and see what is
going on there because it's about who we are."
Comedy is culturally specific and some comedy shows
can cross continents, says Davis. "I think Lilley's work has
translated well to cable television in America, which tells
us there is a universality to the themes and characters he
However, others such as e Chaser don't cross borders
well and sometimes push the boundaries of decency --
because they now legally can. So in some cases, a heavier
editorial hand may be needed, Davis argues.
Fellow CQUniversity academic Dr Alan Keen agrees, but
adds that boundaries should be defined by the marketplace
and legal limits, rather than by censorship. "Consumers
have the final word. If the directors are constantly producing
stupid topics, there'll be nobody wanting to buy the program
and obviously these shows will wither away," he says.
"According to the law, we have boundaries and we can't
go beyond them. On a TV program, I can't use so- called
demeaning language against African-Americans. But
the law changes. And it's very hard to draw a line. It's the
product of our modern society and modern democratic life.
ree hundred years ago, in any country, nobody could
criticise the government or the religious hierarchy, because
they would be sentenced. So the very fact that we have a
system that now we can make fun of -- that we would have
been persec uted for before -- is a good thing."
And what of the future of the TV mockumentary? Wendy
Davis says: " ere has been lots of talk about the impact
of the web on TV, but I think TV will adapt. Television is
just as important c ulturally as film and podcasts and will
remain so for some time. And with digital channels and
gover nments investing money in this technology the
future looks good." ●
Chris Lilley as
from the Logie
The Chaser team
LILLEY'S WORK HAS TRANSLATED
WELL TO CABLE TV IN AMERICA,
WHICH TELLS US THERE IS A
UNIVERSALITY TO THE THEMES AND
CHARACTERS HE HAS DEVELOPED.
PHOTOS:COURTESYOF PRINCESSPICTURES,CREATIVEREPRESENTATION,THECHASERBROADCASTING LIMITED
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