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The Chaser: Now With Added Hamster

The Chasers new project The Hamster Wheel premiered last night on ABC1. Anyone familiar with the Chaser saw a show last night that had no real surprises. It was the Chaser doing what the Chaser does. And that’s fine. For the most part, I enjoy the cut of their jib.

While The Chasers War on Everything had its moments, the show never really quite clicked as well as intended. The Chaser are at their best when the targets of their comedy stylings are politics and the media. CWoE was a little too broad in scope. The Hamster Wheel corrects this with a very clear focus on media/politics are is the better for it.

Not every joke can be a winner and The Hamster Wheel had a couple that fell with a thud, but those that did work landed well and the show had a great spirit and enthusiasm about it. Go Back To Where Tony Abbott Came From was the standout sketch from the show, parodying the excellent SBS series from earlier this year. And the faux-celebrity Twitter feed at the bottom of the screen delivered a bunch of decent gags, marking a welcome return to CNNNN territory.

The set design is inspired and I’m loving the hamster desk. Hopefully the hamster will be repurposed by the ABC for future productions. The Lateline set could use a good sprucing up.

If there’s one thing that the show could benefit from, it would be that the show needs to feel a little more topical than it does. Social media like Twitter have sped up the length of time audiences are still interested in a topic. Jokes about the media calling for Kevin Rudd to return as PM felt ‘so two weeks ago’. While I appreciate that there is a lead time needed for research and that the show is recorded earlier in the week, the topical humour on the show was already feeling a little too tired to warrant inclusion.

Also, it’d be great to see the guys doing some more remote pieces bothering politicians. There’s an entirely new government since the Chaser last did that sort of material with any regularity.

Ultimately, it was a return to form for the Chaser. Not every gag worked, but more jokes landed successfully than not. They’re a welcome voice on Australian TV and I’m happy to see they’re back.


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  • 1
    Son of foro
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    All tastes are personal, of course, and I don’t for one second pretend to own the most sophisticated wit known to man. Why I once even laughed at a fat man falling in a pool during that show on Channel 9 about fat men falling in pools.


    When I saw the lamo promo for the Hamster thing, the one with Rupert Murdoch purportedly answering their questions, I asked myself: Who would be pursuaded by this to want to watch the show?

    Memo to that one who thinks he’s Roy Slaven: You’re not Roy Slaven.

  • 2
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    “Not every joke can be a winner and The Hamster Wheel had a couple that fell with a thud…”

    I quite like shows that have jokes that just fall flat (think The Late Show from the early 90s), it just adds to the charm and gives it a nice feel (instead of the canned laughter for every joke – funny or no). How shows like this work off a joke that went thud can also be quite entertaining (Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever made an art out of making the best out of what was predominantly half-arsed sketches).

    “Jokes about the media calling for Kevin Rudd to return as PM felt ‘so two weeks ago’”

    You obviously didn’t watch the abysmal interview that Tony Jones did with Rob Oakeshott on Lateline only an hour after this segment aired.

  • 3
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    These guys are brilliant.

  • 4
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I love the Chaser team and regard their APEC prank of 2007 as one of the best moments in Australian comedy of all time. But ‘The Hamster Wheel’ is not at that level and not even at the lowest rungs of the most middling episodes of ‘The Chaser’s War on Everything’. To me the show felt like a ‘make work’ scheme for the ‘boys’, and hardly covers original ground. The giant hamster desk? Fail. The out-of-date jokes? Hmmm. JerryKan, you have a lot more confidence in the ability of ‘half-arsed sketches’ to entertain than I. (And for what it is worth, the humour of the shouse ‘The Late Show’ sketches came not from the material but from the corpsing of Santo, like a middle-class version of the ‘Wogs Out of Work’ stage show sketches that relied on the performers breaking character, because Australians are generally pretty insecure about the professionalism of their comedy and find that breaking the fourth wall allows them to connect with their audience.) There are too many shows trying to mine humour out of analysis (think ‘Gruen Transfer’, ‘7 PM Project’ etc) and at the end of the day ‘Hamster’ just isn’t presenting anything new. I hope when the show is axed that the ‘boys’ set fire to that effing hamster out in the car park.

  • 5
    Joe Lemmings Brother
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    The pity is that it runs after Gruen. Their election series was queered like that too.

    I hope when the show is axed that the ‘boys’ set fire to that effing hamster

    I’d like to see them set fire to Wil “I’m so funny I can’t keep a straight face even at my own lame jokes” Anderson.

  • 6
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Along with Todd “I’m so cool that I wear these stupid tee shirts and say the most obvious things as though they are profound gems of wisdom” Sampson.

  • 7
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    And the other one – he’s a nob too!

  • 8
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Ffs, what’s wrong with bandicoots?

  • 9
    Evan Baud
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I have a conflict of interest so I’ll be straight up and say Cameron Baud is a close relative, but I felt their segment on him was a good example of media manipulation – the very thing they are trying to send up!

    The Hamster Wheel editors showed footage from different reporters on different TV stations from similar stories requesting comments from similarly distressed people. It was all mashed up so it came out like Cam was doing the same thing when their was No footage of him at all with the family involved in this story. In fact he wasn’t even in front of their house.

    I can assure you Cam would have been extremely uncomfortable while covering this story and ensured he made every effort to respect their family. However it goes with the territory and he just had to get on with doing a very difficult job. To label him a ‘stalker’ was a bit rich when the Chaser boys would have done plenty of ‘stalking’ in their time in their pursuit of a gag. Politicians across the country can probably back that up

    I really like the Chaser and their rabble-rousing but I don’t think this was one of their braver efforts

  • 10
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    “I love the Chaser team and regard their APEC prank of 2007 as one of the best moments in Australian comedy of all time.”

    Ah yes, comedy gold. A fitting crescendo to that piece would have been the secret service agents unloading their weapons into Chas Licciardello’s chest. Now that would have been funny.

    And lets not forget The Realistic-Make-A-Wish-Foundation where dying kids were given cheap pieces of crap instead of the traditional trip to Disneyland.

    Again, one of the best moments in Australian comedy of all time.

    My taxes paying for this. Easy, privatize the ABC and make them accountable.

  • 11
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    For Dan’s education:


    Incidentally, The Drum *again* discussed Rudd-for-PM last night. I guess some old stories hang around in the absence of new stuff. Never mind, they’ve got Parliament to froth over for the next month or so.

  • 12
    Dan Barrett
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    The story has come back in a big way in the week since. It was just a bit quiet the few days leading up to the Hamster Wheel last week. I don’t think the Hamster Wheel was woefully out of touch, but it just didn’t seem to be hitting on the topics that were heavily in the news.

  • 13
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    JerryKan, the difference between The Late Show and The Hamster Wheel is that the Late Show team hadn’t been doing TV comedy for all that long. The show was hit and miss in large part because they were still finding out for themselves what worked and what didn’t. And you could forgive them a half-arsed sketch or two because, as you said, the cast themselves were so good at making the most out of it.

    The Chaser have been at this gig for a decade. I’d expect more consistency out of them by now. And I think that’s what annoys me the most about The Hamster Wheel: while some of the sketches are good, there’s still a whole lot of wasted potential in that show. And from veterans like the Chaser boys, that annoys me.

  • 14
    Mike Jones
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that these drop kicks are referred to as “boys” – is it to connotate a certain larrikiness ? Or that it’s OK for them to do childish pranks and pretend that after ten years they are still funny ?

    If fish stink after three days, comedy series stink after two – or maybe even one.

  • 15
    David McRae
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Great show – especially loved the Slap spoof last night – most of it works for me.

    I can’t believe the comments here – seems as if Mike Jones lurks threads to can Chaser and Archer #10 should be moderated .. only finding people being machine-gunned funny, what a dick. (speaking of moderation, is that one a Cut and Paste trophy recommendation?)

  • 16
    Posted November 4, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I am loving the Hamster Wheel. I think the Chaser is strongest when it does satire, rather than general comedy skits.

    The canned segments on how to do journalism have some sting — waiting by the fax machine for up to 10 minutes!! Digging up sources by looking at the bottom of the press release!!

    Keep it up.

  • 17
    Posted November 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    @David McRae

    Good to see you have your priorities straight.

    Idiot breaking security at summit and shot=offensive

    Dying child given stick as replacement for trip to Disney Land=Satire (funny)

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