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Friday, September 02, 2005

Review: The Footy Show (Ours and Theirs)

The culture surrounding AFL footy is much like that surrounding yoghurt left in the sun. Nowhere is this better exemplified than the loathsome AFL Footy Show. For those not in the know, this is a Channel Nine sports/variety show (presumably screened during prime-time only in the AFL states of SA, Victoria and Tasmania and possibly WA). Australian television has a strong tradition of sport/comedy television, particularly on the ABC. There was Denton's Live and Sweaty (later taken on by Elle McFeast), Tony Squire's The Fat, Roy and H.G., and who could forget Graham and The Colonel from The Late Show.

There is a "northern" (or rugby) version called the NRL Footy Show, following the same format, production values etc made out of Sydney. As a Melburnian, I'm incensed that theirs is far superior. Dammit! Why is that?

For starters, the regulars on the NRL Footy Show are ex-players. These guys - Fatty, Sterlo, Chief and Matty - have a genuine rapport that can only come with being a part of the game for so long. They actually seem to like each other and are not afraid to be affectionate, even sentimental. This was evident last night when Fatty returned after a couple of months recovering from some sort of accident. You could really feel the love in the room!

The humour is undeniably Australian, and they're not afraid to put themselves down, look stupid or take the piss from the assembled guests and players. But it's all done in good fun, devoid of viciousness or nastiness. While they clearly love their sport, they're not fawning or rude and have a sense of perspective.

By way of contrast, the Aussie Rules (or "southern") version is excruciating and lame. For starters, the line-up is weak. We've got millionaire media figure and club owner Eddie McGuire, floundering out of his depth. Somewhere a used-car is going unsold because of his involvement in this show.

Then, we have Sam Newman (the only host to actually play the game), a man who has spent much of his life being the only person in the room to have read an entire book. In AFL circles, this qualifies him as a Chomsky-like public intellectual, and it's warped his personality. He's not shy about inflicting his catchcry "You idiot" on the public, especially the elderly or people for whom English is their second language. Har, bloody, har.

Lastly, to add some showbiz razzle-dazzle we have Trevor Marmalade. I've got no view on his basic decency or good-bloke status, but I find his brand of humour (vaudeville-style gags straight out of "The Bumper Book of 1001 Gags Guaranteed to Make You Wet Yourself") very dated and old-fashioned. It might play well down at the RSL, but we won't be seeing his innovative comedy stylings at the Fringe Festival any time soon.

The on-stage vibe is aggressive, sometimes hostile. The humour is nasty and frequently sexist and racist. The five minute soap parodies are cheap, humourless and lame beyond description. Some (ex-)players are feted as gods while other guests are humiliated for a laugh. The hosts and guests show no talent for self-deprecation or taking the piss out of each other - key requirements for Australian humourists. It's all egos bumping up against each other, leading to an ugly undercurrent permeating the entire show.

In short - where's the love? The AFL Footy Show producers should take a long look at the NRL Footy Show and follow their example. It's telling that they can't find any thoughtful, talented, funny bastards from the ranks of retired AFL players to make the line-up.

C'mon, surely Melbourne deserves to wrest back the crown of footy-based comedy - or is The Fifth Quarter the best we can manage?

Word Count: 655

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  • i used to agree with you about the nrl footy show and watched it was not up itself like the afl show and the tone wasn't so deadly religiously serious............hey, but that's melbourne where footy is the most important thing in life and footy players are worshipped like gods.

    nowdays the nrl footy show is cactus.....doing the same old skits and telling the same old jokes is boring. this show is aimed at the bogans and retards cos that's the rugby league dont expect to see any shakespear.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:25 pm, April 01, 2006  

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  • Tend to agree with you. Caught a glimpse of the NRL version last week and they had the same line-up, doing a cross from Lady Luck (with her rack hanging out as usual) before doing the jumping velcro-suit bit and I thought ... haven't I seen this before?

    Hopefully they'll mix it up a bit in future.

    As for aiming at bogans and retards - what do you expect? It's a) Australian, b) telly and c) sport. All three things point to being an entirely bogan-oriented experience. If a semi-literate hate-filled moron can't follow/appreciate it after six cans of Bundy, it doesn't get on the show. Same rule applies to the AFL Footy Show. Welcome to football culture.

    By Blogger Greg, at 3:08 pm, April 01, 2006  

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  • Speccie
    You're spot on re the AFL Footy Show. I am actually an avid footy follower yet I refuse to watch even one second of The Footy Show.I have not bothered for years. Puerile is the most apt description of it. Infantile, thin-skinned (especially in the Maguire era) and bullying would be other words that spring to mind. They don't mind picking on others but can't tolerate anybody having a crack at them. Caroline Wilson said it best when she said that the mentality was that you were "either with them or against them." I lived in NSW for the last three years. The NRL Footy Show was obviously bogan-central, but as you say, it was always good-natured fun, ego-less and had a warmth that the AFL version can't replicate. Why? Because it's all about being better than someone else, usually at the expense of someone else's dignity.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 pm, April 20, 2006  

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  • agree wholeheartedly.
    JB in the new era of the AFL footy show is completely useless. Garry does the hosting sufficiently.

    comments regarding the lack of 'love' is the most apt analysis of why the show is flailing.
    The show will continue the gradual decline into a show watched by viewers who can only remember the times of 10 years ago. at least McGuire wasnt all-controlling, and encouraging the guests to speak up, and insinuating to Sam that he was idiotic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:37 pm, April 24, 2006  

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  • Your joking when you say the NRL footy show is better than the AFL version? I follow Rugby leauge and i'd rather watch the AFL show (at least you learn something) unlike the steaming pile of SH*T that we must endure up north. The Sunday version is superior and should be standard for Thursday night...oh and i don't care if the thursday night one is mainly for the inbreds that don't even follow league.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:05 am, May 06, 2006  

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  • I stopped watching this crap so many years ago that I have almost forgotten how lame it is.


    So tell me, why is it that Eddie is infallible in the eyes of PBL? The guy looks clearly uncomfortable in all of his tv personas. He is stilited and lame when in front of a camera and surely must be the most overrated 'talent' on our screens.

    Has anyone actually measured how much useful AFL content is broadcast during each of the shows? I would do it for you, but I would need a bucket to survive until the final credits.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:29 am, May 23, 2006  

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  • A female perspective...I just read your Brownlow blog... hilarious. It is so true, you are spot on with what the girls put up with and how they weasle there way into the team. Worse is, the girlfriends who put up with their boyfriends blatant cheating. I know for a fact most of the top players are cheating non stop, I have seen it first hand and its sickening to see the Brownlow photos... gut wrenching to hear my friends are marrying players who I know have slept around on them...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:00 pm, October 30, 2006  

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  • Thanks for the insight into your friends' experiences. (Though I think the prior comment was meant to go on the Brownlow post.)

    Did you check out the Footy Chicks movie? Very interesting take on the whole thing. I'd love to see a follow-up where they look at footballers' wives to see how they strike that bargain about sleeping around (eg are the women allowed to as well, or just the men?).

    Using that "deal" perspective, I try to be enlightened about it and take the view that the women involved put a really high value on being with a football star and don't really care for faithfulness, trust, intimacy or commitment.

    Maybe I'm unfair, but I guess they are not, well, particularly thoughtful people. In that sense, I don't feel to badly for them and the humiliations they endure. In their eyes, it's worth it.

    By Blogger Greg, at 3:07 pm, October 31, 2006  

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  • I do enjoy watching the AFL footy show. It is good entertainment, but instead of seeing Sammy making a fool out of himself, i suggest a video camera down out Portsea (vic)during footy trips to the beach/ pub. The disgraceful behaviour I have witnessed, they are no role modles for anyone. Unless that means I should be drunk, fried or a complete pig. Their not gods! Being a Melb girl, I dont see the rugby boys acting as bad as ours!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:20 pm, May 04, 2007  

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  • As a once was avid lover of The Footy Show - The show has now become a joke - and amount of discussion about AFL Football very limited, all they do is make fools of themselves. How about moving back to your title of the show "The Footy Show" and talk about foot ball again and you may get another viewer back.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:03 am, May 07, 2007  

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  • does anybody watch the footy show anymore? surely sam newman with that lofty $800k salary is on the CVC private equity chopping block because his puerile behaviour can only take him so far

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:27 pm, June 19, 2007  

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  • If you don't like it, turn the bloody thing off! That's the great thing about Australian TV - we have freedom of choice. Some people like it, some don't. So what? Name any show and the same applies.

    While I'm here could I mention on behalf of all of your readers that I do not enjoy the fact that your site contains malicious scripts that waste valuable computer resources. Turn the bloody thing off!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:44 pm, January 09, 2008  

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  • It's called reviewing - pointing out the good and bad of popular culture. There's always the hope (vain) that it might improve. Or, at least, the truly offensive bits get pared back.

    As for the script - we are experiencing a temporary problem with the Yahoo Pipes feed that displays the "Final Say" box, resulting in a script error (infinite loop). I apologise for this and will hope to fix it shortly.

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:50 pm, January 09, 2008  

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