Australian Sketch Comedy Show
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Skithouse (styled skitHOUSE) was an Australian sketch comedy television series that ran on Network Ten from 9 February 2003 to 28 July 2004. The series was produced by Roving Enterprises. It featured many well-known Australian comedians, including comedy-band Tripod. Reruns can now be seen on The Comedy Channel on Foxtel. In the UK, it is shown on the channel Paramount Comedy 2 and Trouble. The title name itself is a pun on the colloquial word: “shithouse”.
The series only ran for two seasons, before being cancelled due to a combination of dwindling ratings and the withdrawal of the cable network Foxtel as co-financier of the program’s production.
Skithouse was produced by Roving Enterprises, a production company formed by Rove McManus. Two key performers were Rove’s Rove Live co-hosts Peter Helliar and Corinne Grant. The show also featured Cal Wilson, Scott Brennan, Fiona Harris, Damian Callinan, Roz Hammond, Michael Chamberlin, Ingrid Bloom, Tom Gleeson, Jason Geary andBen Anderson. Members of the comedic band Tripod also featured, not just as the band but in the actual skits as well.Tripod are Scod (Scott Edgar), Yon (Simon Hall) and Gatesy (Steven Gates)
The director was Full Frontal alumnus, Daina Reid.
Since the cancellation of the series, a number of the stars have moved on to other areas in the comedy industry. Scott Brennan and Fiona Harris starred in Comedy Inc. (before the shows end) as well as Damian Callinan and Cal Wilson staying on Network Ten on The Wedge with Roz Hammond and Ben Anderson as part of the ensemblé cast on Thank God You’re Here.
The show consisted of numerous comedic skits. The half hour shows themselves often seemed to have themes (or at least they repeated the use of sets, costumes, characters and props). Its comedic styling was reminiscent of many classic Australian sketch comedies, like Full Frontal and Fast Forward, sharing common elements such as self-deprecating humour, low-cost props and effects.
Notable characters and sketches
Many characters recurred throughout the series, often appearing several times in a single episode, creating a semi-coherent storyline. Some more notable recurring characters and/or scenarios are listed below.
The Australian Fast Bowler (Gleeson)
- A cricket fast bowler, loosely resembling Dennis Lillee, who uses his bowling skills to help people or defend against evil, superhero style – indeed, he has his own sidekick and nemesis (Callinan as The English Batsman). For instance, a choking man would be helped with a ball thrown at his back. The Australian Fast Bowler has been shown as a 12-year-old boy, the Schoolyard Fast Bowler; one episode also featured the Australian Lawn Bowler, seemingly the Australian Fast Bowler many years later (a references to the common perception of lawn bowling as an “old people’s sport”). Another episode also featured the Australian Spin Bowler and another featured the Australian One Day Fast Bowler (Who was quite hopeless to say the least.)
Bubble Wrap Man (Yon)
- Bubble Wrap Man is a send up of traditional superheroes. His outfit consisted of a standard red superhero outfit, complete with underwear on the outside, and a Bubble Wrap cape. Bubble Wrap Man would appear in stressful situations for other unnamed characters, and say to them, “Pop the Bubbles on My Cape!.” This draws on the theory that popping the bubbles on standard Bubble Wrap will relieve stress. Once the situation is resolved Bubble Wrap Man then leaves the scene, leaving his calling card, a small piece of Bubble Wrap.
The “I’ll snap ya” guy (Callinan)
- A parody of an Australian ‘bogan‘ who continually narrates sketches in which he speaks of various people he has punched (or ‘snapped’). One episode saw “I’ll snap ya” guy being assaulted by Russell Crowe, a reference to the actor’s numerous altercations.
Redheads (Gleeson, Wilson, Hammond, Yon)
- Stereotyped white red-haired people who have an extreme fear of sunlight. They seem incapable of natural speech, communicating in squeaks.
- A depressed, alcoholic version of Batman. His Batmobile is a wreck, he has no work, and seems romantically attracted to Robin (Chamberlin). He is perpetually at odds with the more dynamic Captain Terrific (Helliar), who is now Robin’s partner.
The “I love beer” guy (Helliar)
- A man who, despite professing to everyone how much he loves beer, quite obviously can’t stomach the drink. Onlookers try to convince him that it is “okay” not to drink beer, but he refuses to acknowledge his dislike. This is a mockery of the common stereotype of the beer-drinking Australian male.
The ticket lady (Harris)
- A perpetually cheerful parking inspector who is oblivious to how much she is hated by the general public; she often speaks highly of people while being pelted with rocks, eggs, and other heavy objects. Usually ends a sketch after having something thrown at her, by exclaiming “I love this job!”
Glenn Bush (Brennan)
- An awkward, annoying schoolboy in his teens, with many pimples and a squeaky voice. Glenn is mostly portrayed at School Camp Video Diaries, or doing a school biology assignment with his “friend” (Chamberlin), who cannot get rid of him.
Tripod as “themselves”
- The 3 friends engaged in various strange or geeky activities, including playing Dungeons and Dragons, and teaching Yon how to dance.
“Nothing suss!” (Gleeson, Brennan)
- Two men attempt to sell odd products (normally partner exercise equipment) in the medium of an infomercial for their mail order service. The two frequently use the exercise equipment to demonstrate and end up in sexually suggestive positions, while maintaining all the while that there is “Nothing suss” about what they are doing.