Chasing Comic Genius

September 13, 2007 at 5:23 am (Uncategorized)

Hats off to ABC’s The Chaser. Every now and again, something comes along that makes me regret not having a TV, and last night’s edition, which was about the Chaser team’s inspired APEC infiltration, takes the cake. And they were justly rewarded by rating through the roof of old Aunty’s house.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, the Chaser is basically a bunch of guys, all ex-lawyers, I believe, who run amok in comedy sketches that most often pillory politicians and other authority figures. It is a richly satirical, utterly fearless, at times wonderfully juvenile format that allows them to comment in the most hilarious fashion on some of the abundant absurdities in Australia’s current political and social climate. They’re also not averse to skewering ignorant civilians here and abroad (one skit in the USA had a member of the Chaser asking passersby to name countries of the world beginning with the letter ‘U’ – most struggled).

And we in Sydney were totally, abjectly terrorised by the security detail for APEC. It was expensive overkill in the worst way. You couldn’t move for fences and snipers and the boys in blue. Llew was even stopped on his way to work, in suit and tie, unruly red curls bouncing, and questioned by a very serious policeman about just what he thought he was doing walking down the street. Citizens of this city were treated like suspicious scum-bags for a whole week. Were the whole thing not so insulting and so excessive, everyone in uniform on a little-bit-of-power jag that knew no bounds, then the Chaser stunt may not have seemed so spectacularly hilarious. As it was, however, it proved the perfect assault weapon, and the only one to come back in the face of all the metal turned on the citizenry. Go, boys, go.

Masquerading as an official motorcade bearing the ever-benign Canadian flag, the Chaser team was waved through not one, but, deliciously, two security checkpoints in a city that was basically in full lock-down. I can just imagine them sitting in the car saying “Shit. That wasn’t supposed to happen. What the hell should we do now?” They nudged their way, inexorably now, to the door of the Intercontinental Hotel, were US President George Bush was reportedly staying (in the worst-kept secret of the whole shebang). Still undetected, the Chaser had few options but to forcibly launch themselves in the face of the $250 million security network, and one of them eventually leapt from one of the [three?] vehicles dressed as Osama Bid Laden, loudly proclaiming himself to be an important world leader who had come to claim his place at the APEC table. Naturally, he was arrested, as were ten other members of the team, including production.

The papers the next day showed him being given a full body search – as if there was ANY REMOTE CHANCE this guy was packing. That’s the joke. It just makes the entire security operation look utterly farcical. Really, it just emphasised the fact that the only thing authorities should have properly anticipated was that the Chaser team would try something.

They’ve actually been charged, which is also ludicrous, under laws that were brought in especially for APEC. Talk about wasting more time and money. They’re comedians, for Christ’s sake. They’re satirists. As if they weren’t simply doing their job (and doing it much more efficiently than some other people we might mention). Pursuing them legally just makes people who already look stupid look dumb and dumber. The trumped up charge is something like ‘being in the area without just purpose.’ Something like that. But I think they’ll be able to argue very persuasively that they were indeed there with a purpose – to expose the idiocy of APEC’s super security by committing a brazen and too-easy breach. That’s a damn fine purpose, and it worked a treat. They’re comedians. That’s what they do. If they had failed to show, everyone would have been amazed. We were amazed anyway, because no one, including the 11 charged members of the team, expected in our wildest dreams that the Chaser would be waved right through to the APEC epicentre. It came off a comic dream, and it is now a full-scale bureaucratic nightmare. Bravo, boys, bravo. Love your work.

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