Friday, 30 January 2009

Five of the Stupidest Characters in TV History.

This is not THE stupidest five, there IS no stupidest five. It's not even five (it's eleven...I got carried away). It's just a chance to have a giggle at a bit of silliness.

So in no particular order:

Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta - 'The Simpsons')

It's hard to get a hold of the funniest man on TV online, and unless you are a nut you've seen him in action so here's his pitch for POTUS, as featured on Letterman last year.

Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook - 'The Office')

It's easily argued that Gareth's boss, David Brent (the peerless Ricky Gervais) is as stupid as Gareth. But Crook's Gareth has that wounded bird quality that makes his gormless idiocy endearing.

Alice Tinker (Emma Chambers - 'The Vicar of Dibley')

Same goes for Alice. Plus she remained the funniest thing on a show that outstayed its welcome by 10 years.

Barney Fife
(Don Knotts - 'The Andy Griffith Show')

There's a theme developing here. Gareth, Alice, Homer and Barney are all supremely dense, but you can't help but love them. Don Knotts played the same helpless, feckless eejit in just about everything he did, but as a child I loved his goofy eyes and soggy twig movement.

Jeff Murdock
(Richard Coyle - 'Coupling')

Jeff almost fits the above group but he's as likely to make you want to hit him as hug him.

Ursula Buffay (Lisa Kudrow - 'Mad About You' & 'Friends')

Sure, Phoebe's a ditz and Joey's a blockhead, but Ursula is a transparent crayon.

Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor - 'The Larry Sanders Show')

Hank was Ed to Larry's Johnny, and as fucked up a character that ever graced a TV screen. Hank rarely fits the 'huggable idiot' category. Even when he floods into tears, you know he's just in crocodile mode to get what he wants.

George Costanza (Jason Alexander - Seinfeld)

George is not a stupid man, unless you consider self-inveigling ludicrous situations as stupid...actually, on second thoughts...

Darren Lamb
(Steve Merchant - 'Extras')

Back to hug mode. Merchant as Darren put in one of the most underrated performances in TV comedy for some years. It's a star turn, as this clip shows.

George W. Bush (Himself - featured on 'Letterman')

He was a character, he was on TV and he was completely fucking he's in.

Father Dougal Maguire (Ardal O'Hanlon - 'Father Ted')

If a gold medal had to be given for ultimate stupidhead, Dougal would make final three, if not win. He's a beautiful and wondrous eejit.
Unfortunately embedding was disabled on the bits I wanted to share, but these are worth clicking on:

Dougal on the Church
Dougal's imagination

Thursday, 29 January 2009


There's a silly and fun blog entry half completed, sitting in my little blogcubator. It'll be with you soon.

In the meantime, there remains a shitty, flyblown little dag hanging from my last entry. Let's snip it off. Someone called 'Christopher' posted this bit of nonsense on the OurBrisbane site. Because I don't want to hijack KLW's blog, I'm writing it here. I don't feel particularly comfortable using cusswords over there. But here, I can be as rude as I bloody well like.

'Christopher's' blog comment is in bold type.

As I'm sure you're all aware, The Brisbane Theatre Industry is struggling as it is, without people creating a blog because they're unhappy with reviews, actors that review or people that review under different names.

I wasn't aware that Brisbane theatre is struggling. Sure it's hard to fill rooms, but it's hard to fill rooms anywhere. The community itself is turning out a lot of great work.

I don't know if you're referring to my blog or Katherine's or both, but my blog was not created to kick back at honest reviews, negative or otherwise. Nor is it adversely critical of most of my peers. In fact, it wasn't created as specifically a 'performing arts' blog at all. If you'd spent any time here, you'd know that. But you haven't spent any time here. Thank you Sitemeter, by the way, for this information:

Time of Visit Jan 28 2009 7:33:59 pm
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I'm also quite sure Katherine's blog is not intended as a poison pulpit either. From what I've read of it, she merely wants to discuss theatre issues and promote healthy conversation around same. And by the looks of things lately, she's succeeded.

A review is an opinion piece; anyone can write one. Whether it's a piece of theatre you've seen, an art exhibition you've visited or an experience at a restaurant, you can write your opinions anywhere you choose. On blogs, web pages, the back of a seat on public transport, for example.

"A review is an opinion piece; anyone can write one". Is this similar to 'Opinions are like arseholes, everyone's got one'? It usually helps an industry if the person critiquing that industry has some knowledge of the work carried out in that industry. You've reduced me to sounding like Ralph Wiggum.

Writing on the back of a seat on public transport. Surely you do not condone the defacing of public property? Tch tch. Naughty.

I'm struggling to understand why The Theatre Industry in Brisbane is so caught up in petty competition and rivalry, when the reality is we should be supporting actors, producers and reviewers alike.'s a struggle. We're not caught up in rivalry, petty or otherwise. For the vast majority of the time we are a united, synergistic entity. We tend to have a good relationship with reviewers too, but it's pretty hard to have any kind of relationship with someone who's hiding behind a fake name.

Is it possible that an artist may choose to write under a pseudonym because a) they can and b) they want to be known for their performance work rather than the fluency of their writing? Why are we assuming that actor/reviewers have bad intentions?

Yes, it's possible. Many things are possible. I'm sure in this crazy 21st Century wonder world it's 'possible' to catch farts and paint them purple.'Possible' is not the point. If you think that 'because they can' is in any way a reasonable justification for a behaviour or action (outside of the old joke about dogs licking their genitals), try using it as an excuse next time you fuck up and see how well it goes across.

As for b), what makes you think that it's acceptable for someone to hide behind a fake name purely because they wish to avoid the potential for criticism from their peers? If they want to be active in the industry AND a reviewer, fine.
But why do you deem it acceptable to open oneself to scrutiny in one role, yet try to justify avoiding it in another? If a person is afraid to have their work as a reviewer scrutinised in the same way it is in other roles, would it not make sense to avoid said roles? Yes, it would make sense. Your line of reasoning here is not only a big, fat, ugly double standard, it's facile nonsense.

Maybe it's because I neither perform nor review that I don't understand the level of offence this causes to some of you. I simply want to see more and more high-quality theatre in Brisbane, which seems increasingly unlikely by the rate of negative blogs, malicious personal attacks on actors and reviewers and unsupporting theatre-folk.

This sounds like a deliberately inserted 'blinder'. Maybe it is because you neither perform or review. Your opinion, though poorly formed and ill-expressed, seems too firmly held and defensive to be coming from the GP though.

Where are the 'malicious personal attacks'? Please provide examples.
Who are the 'unsupporting theatre folk'? Ditto.

These accusations have been levelled before, and they have come only from those who have been responsible for reproducing work from other sources and/or the use of pseudonyms. It's perfectly natural why those responsible have tried to defend the indefensible (and in doing so deflect blame elsewhere), but it's odd that someone not even remotely involved with our industry would try to defend them, especially with such an obviously weak argument.

Pseudonym or no pseudonym, a review is a review. Whether it has a high distribution or not. It's simply someone's opinion of a piece.

Thanks for the redundant closer.

By the way, the website that last year published reviews with non-original, non-credited material has re-posted one of them on their site. I'm not sure why this is so, but it's worth pointing out that the original, from, is no longer there. So perhaps they think it's acceptable, given that the the original work would be difficult to get a hold of.

Difficult...but 'possible'.

Friday, 23 January 2009

From the desk of Guy Incognito...

Once again, my bigmouthery has stretched beyond this page. Below is another contribution to Katherine Lyall-Watson's blog at This time it's a big ol' wank about those reprehensible pussies who want to latently serve their own interests by working in our industry and then yellowing out as reviewers, using fake names.

Hi again Katherine. Hope you're enjoying the steamy Brisbane soup.

In addressing your extremely well-made points about the use of pseudonyms, I must reluctantly touch upon an issue that came to light in mid-2008. I stress that the sole reason for briefly exhuming this side issue is to provide a measure of context for the attendant ‘nom de plume’ matter.

A number of your readers and contributors will already be familiar with an incidence last year in which a theatre website published a batch of reviews that contained content clearly reproduced from other sources, without crediting the authors of the original work.

In the course of making these findings known to many of my friends, peers, colleagues and the people who administer the website, it was brought to my attention that a number of reviews on the site were written under assumed names, including one of the reviews containing reproduced content.

I raised this, briefly, during my correspondence with one of the people responsible for the running of the website, asking if they 1) were, or 2) knew the identity of, the person operating under one of the false names (the one responsible for the plagiarised review). The first question was denied, the second ignored. The person operating under this false name (or someone acting on their behalf) had apparently relished the idea of writing under a fake name so much they created a Facebook page for this ‘character’, complete with an avatar of a person with a long nose, à la Pinocchio.

As I was engaged in investigating the other matter, I did not dwell too long on the on the pseudonym issue, except to say the following in a response to an email from the website:

“In your initial apology online, you stated that the contributor found to have plagiarised reviews would no longer write for the website. If your attitude towards pseudonyms is such that you believe it is acceptable in these circumstances, does this mean that [the reviewer] will no longer write for the website, but might be allowed to write under a nom-de-plume? If the disciplinary action accorded [the reviewer] was to have her dismissed as a contributor, will the same action apply to the person using the [pseudonym]?

“There are a number of people in our theatrical community who actively pursue the dual roles of artist and critic. Whatever their views, they are to be admired for having the gumption to stand by their words and face the possibility of opprobrium from those they review. This should, in my view (and I hasten to add, the view of an increasing number of supporters) be the standard position of anyone who finds themselves with a potential conflict of interests on their hands.”

With no prompting, another member of the website’s team, presumably having read the above, felt compelled to contact me via email to admit and defend their use of a pseudonym, despite no allegation being made against them.

Their defence? 1) “Personal sustainability” and 2) “I know of numerous other arts contributors in Brisbane and Australia who do the same for various reasons”.

Throughout all correspondence with the people concerned, their stance seemed to be that I was in the wrong for daring to make my findings public. They were of the opinion that I should have shared the information with them, and only them. My response was along the lines of ‘how does that ensure accountability on your part’? They even went so far as to accuse me of “making slanderous allegations” and suggesting that “you don't want to make enemies”.

I probably wouldn’t find the whole pseudonym thing so abhorrent and ethically bankrupt if the people involved here weren’t locked in such brutally ignorant thought processes. They engaged in ‘fallacies of virtue’ (we believe we are coming from a place of ultimate right and good, therefore we must be right, no matter what our actions are). They engaged in the ‘lemming fallacy’ (‘other people do it, so it’s okay for me to do it’) and, most disturbingly, they engaged in the classic In Terrorem or ‘appeal to fear’ (“you don't want to make enemies”).

If I may be allowed some candour, the simple fact is that anyone who is actively involved in an industry and then hides behind a fake name to comment about that industry is ethically shoddy. I don’t care if they claim to ‘make no secret’ of their identity or “book [their] tickets under [their] own name”. If you are so up-front about it, what’s the point of having a pseudonym?

Off the top of my head I can think of three people in Brisbane who either are or have been both artist and critic: Nigel Munro-Wallis, Dan Evans, and yes, Katherine Lyall-Watson. They’re all willing to tell their truth and stand squarely behind it, despite the potential vitriol coming from those who might feel slighted.

In discussing this topic with a colleague, it was suggested that I leave the plagiarism ‘thing’ alone (I honestly didn’t want to dredge it up at all). But having read this, I’m hoping you can see it was necessary in order to provide context, and perhaps more importantly, illustrate one of the ethical dangers inherent in the use of pseudonyms in this manner.

If you do it, you don’t deserve your bullypulpit. And…if you do it in a town with an industry like ours, some grumpy bigmouth will catch you, eventually.

(If anyone is interested in seeing more detail around any of the bits and pieces mentioned here, feel free to email me at ).

Sorry for the longwindedness. Happy Straya Day.

There seems to be a culture of secretiveness developing around a certain section of our community. Kinda makes y'wonder what else they might be hiding.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

The day after Barack Hussein Obama won the Presidential election, I arranged to have the day off on January 21. The plan was to go to sleep early on the evening of the 20th, get up around 1am and watch the Inauguration, then spend the rest of the day sleeping and pottering about and generally being grateful for a day off...and I suppose grateful that the Bush era was finally over.

It didn't quite go to plan, and as a result I'm falling asleep at the 'wheel'.

The Australian TV network with the longest coverage of the Inauguration, Channel Nine, was also (initially) the network with the worst coverage. Unlike a lot of people, I like Karl Stefanovic very much. I've met him on a couple of occasions (in his pre-Today days) and he's a lovely fella. I also like his unaffected style on the Today Show. Despite this and the fact that he and Robert Penfold have some Beltway experience, their empty chatter forced me over to Seven's NBC feed within minutes. Even Ten had a straight CBS feed which left Nine's coverage for dead. Of course when Seven dropped their locals into the mix, they made Karl and Penfold look like Tim Russert and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

To the Inauguration itself. One of the most discussed titbits was the recitation of the Oath. Pro-Obama people blame Chief Justice for screwing it up. Anti-Obama people blame Obama for screwing it up. The really anti-Obama people are clutching at the final straw by suggesting Obama is not a bona fide President because he did not recite it as it is specified in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

As most of us saw, it didn't come out like that:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Source: CBS

In my tiredness, when I first saw it I thought it was Roberts' fault. But Obama did jump in a little too fast with his initial "I, Barack Hussein Obama" response and that really threw Roberts. To Obama's credit, he gave Roberts 'the look' i.e. the chance to dig himself out, but Roberts had effectively dried. Obama, unflappable coolass 'mutt' bastid that he is, went with it. He's cool like that.

(Despite there being only one word out of place, it was decided out of 'an abundance of caution that Obama should take the oath again, which, later that night, he did.)

One of the other odd little things from the other day was the similarity of this man... this man:

With apologies to the late, great Donald Pleasance.

Such rare occasions of pomp and circumstance have a curious effect on many. Royal weddings, state funerals and inaugurations can reduce people to shivering, lip-quivering tears. While I enjoy a good bit of sparkly old school glitz every 10 years or so, nothing could outshine Obama's speech. Even the (non-retarded) harshest critic would admit that Obama's gifts as an orator are unmatched in recent times, and compared to his predecessor, well...what's to say?

Obama's fame as an orator goes back to the DNC in 2004, when he stated:

"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America...there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America...there’s the United States of America."

Obama was on his way to becoming the junior senator for Illinois. Quite a few ears pricked at this amazing speech, and it soon became apparent to more than just Chicagoans and political players that this guy was something, even if just as a good speechifier.

In October 2002 at an anti-war rally in Chicago, Obama gave a speech in 2002 outlining his position on the Iraq War. I urge you to read it, simply to assess if it jibes with your position, and if you think it shows, for a 'green' state senator, not just a way with words, but a prescience beyond his political experience.

There are many around the world who have elevated Barack Obama to a kind of quasi-Messianic status. His opponent in the 2008 election even tried to score points with this notion, although his campaign pitched the notion that the status had been self-applied.

Let's put the last few years of American tailspin aside for a second. America has been devoid of literate, accessible leadership for eight years. Bush was completely and utterly unsuited to the business of statesman and figurehead, and as a result was hidden from public view. Illiterate>>inaccessible. Through this failing alone, Bush lowered the standard the office of the President, and that's without factoring in the absolute cesspool of his brand of retarded neo-conservatism.

Unfortunately this means that even a semi-literate leader would be regarded as an improvement, again, policy platform notwithstanding.

But now they have Obama, cool, unflappable and one of the best orators in international public life. He not only sends the right message at the right time (his Inauguration speech was a couple of gears down on the great rallying cries), he knows perfectly that his delivery and tone are so powerful he can face the people even when his advisors plead with him to lie low (his 'Perfect Union' speech, in the midst of the Wright scandal, exemplifies this).

Obama's no messiah, nor has he been proven to be much more than a charismatic, handsome, eloquent, measured campaigner. He may be more than these things, and if America is to maintain its greatness, he must be. It is naivety to believe that Barack Obama is our saviour. It's complete and utter ignorance, though, to believe that he is a less competent choice than the godawful poltroon America has suffered for the last eight years.

Friday, 16 January 2009


This blog entry was written in response to an entry by Katherine Lyall-Watson on her Our Brisbane blog. Katherine's been around the traps a long time and is respected for her forthrightness and honesty. I've been unable to post my comments on her page. Every time I've tried I'm told there's an 'unacceptable space' in my screen name or the entry has been 'flagged as potential spam'.

So, I'm posting it here, with a request that other actors in our merry band pop over to Katherine's page and at the very least, read the entry and comments.

There have been many interesting and salient comments made on this topic, and in stark contrast to the majority of blogs and message boards online, none of them rail too hard at any of the others.

While there have been disagreements on fine points, the input here from producers, actors, writers, and directors highlights our community's commonality of purpose and overall vision.

This should be a source of optimism.

I've been involved in our theatrical 'fraternity' for a relatively short period, and at the fringes for the majority of that time, but even at such a remove it is plain to see that, overall, there is a unity and solidarity in our community which cannot be underestimated.

Earlier today when I first read this blog entry, my reaction was something like this:

Given that I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, ready access to unpolluted water and reasonable health care, griping about the lack of opportunity to be paid for prancing about like a tit seems a mite ungrateful. Most of the time I feel very lucky to be living in a society where I don’t have to play ‘cholera bingo’ with the water or risk being blown to jammy smithereens every time I leave the house.

But reading the responses here has given me pause.

Setting aside the obvious luxuries of living in the developed world, yes, within the context of our spoiled, sun-kissed, chubby little lives, trying to forge a career as a professional actor in this town is a shit fight.

It's true that theatre is locked in a struggle.

It's true that actors have a fight on their hands to eke out an existence. It's true that most of us have to subsist in jobs we loathe in order to continue doing what we love.

It's true that austerity measures, both in the public and corporate sector, are affecting everyone, QTC and La Boite included.

It's true that your average Joe is more likely to see a blockbuster movie for $15 than he is to fork out a minimum $20 to see a play.

While I'm no position of authority on this, it's obviously true that the structure of companies (theatrical or no) has had to change to meet the needs of an evolving market.

When you take a look at some of the amazing work being produced by independent theatre companies, it's truer than ever that 'professional' is not a dollar's a standard.

This dialogue makes me feel very optimistic. I sometimes feel like I'm treading water and I know the same is true of many of my friends and colleagues. Yet we continue to act, write, direct, produce, design...because we love it, and in most cases, feel completely empty when we're not doing it. We do it freely of spirit and purpose.

Yes, some of our little fraternity feel that Brisbane no longer holds any promise for a professional career, so they go to Sydney or Melbourne or they seek to study interstate (how many farewells are being attended this very night?[Friday 16 Jan]).

Some become so disenchanted that they lose the spark and give it away altogether.

But no great blame can justifiably be apportioned within our 'industry'. It's a naif who thinks there's not a small element that seems to be involved purely out of a sense of self-aggrandisement. However, that does not apply to the overwhelming majority of us, from freelance actors to major company ADs. All of us are committed to the same goals: making work for artists and art for the people.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Being cast in a play is wonderful, especially when the play is as good as The Pillowman and the role is as gorgeously meaty and chewy as Tupolski. I rushed into the Metro yesterday after work to pick up the script. It's like getting a spanky new present. You don't want to leave it out of your sight, and you're all over it every chance you get.

I've read it a couple of times already and it's simply an amazing piece of work, and as funny on the page as anything I've read in years. Which you wouldn't automatically think, given the quick capsule synopsis is "man living in police state interrogated by the police because his short stories are eerily similar to a series of horrifying murders".

The play is being produced by 23rd Productions and will run March 19th to April 5th at the Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts Complex.

I'll keep you updated (hehe...yeah right. Mr 'first blog entry since Christmas') about bits and pieces around what promises to be a totally brilliant production.