REVIEW: The Uncollected Plays of Shaun Micallef

In brief: Plays written by the greatest man who ever played a character called Nobby Doldrums, Shaun Micallef.

The good: Pure Micallef genius – surreal and satirical.

The not-so-good: Somebody didn’t know the difference between ‘discreet’ and ‘discrete’ a few times (unless that joke went over my head)

Why I chose it: Because Shaun Micallef is a comedy genius

Year: 2018

Pages: 331

Publisher: Affirm Press

Rating: 9 out of 10

I don’t think it’s any secret that Shaun Micallef is my favourite comedian, satirist, television host, surrealist and man about town in the world. I love his style of humour, as it’s so dry it should come with a drought warning. He’s fantastic at plays on words, coming out with the shocking and the type of joke you can repeat to test on your friends to see how smart (or not) they are. (Maybe it’s only me who does the latter, but I’m telling you it’s a fantastic way to read a room quickly). Perhaps another reason I like Micallef is his irreverence – not one thing is sacred with him. You can also see his influences, such as Monty Python and Kenneth Williams. (Ooh, I KNOW!)

Naturally I was going to buy this book and fangirl all over it. But I received it instead for Christmas and it’s a signed copy. (Although I won’t go all Jelly Cannister trying to extract DNA from it). So on to the book. It’s a hard cover. It has two nice pictures of Mr Micallef, one on the dust jacket and a slightly more disturbing one if you take the dust jacket off. (Possibly enticing you to read the book faster so you can put it on the shelf). There are references to mould, fonts, Dan Brown and Broadway. And that’s only on the dust jacket.

Inside, Micallef gives his holy insights into how to write and host a production, which is of extreme benefit if you live in Adelaide and like experimental amateur theatre. In between, there are several scripts for plays that should have you banging down the doors of your local theatre, demanding they put these on next. Because every local theatre has sets for a Roman Empire, an Australian outback town and a dodgy looking circus. These scripts are to be savoured, because you won’t get the full effect otherwise. The timing and play on words are everything. The dialogue is multilayered and you’ll be wondering how you can add a Coleridge joke to your next board presentation. In short, they are brilliant, tackling every era and national treasure. My only annoyance was that several times where I thought ‘discreet’ should have been used, ‘discrete’ was written instead. Perhaps it’s in the pronunciation or perhaps I am too bourgeois to understand the subtle differences of the true mastermind.

In summary, The Uncollected Plays of Shaun Micallef are witty and brilliant. Either SBS or the ABC should produce all of them, possibly superimposed in a corner of The Ghan Slow TV so that people have multiple points when they call into talkback radio to complain about taxpayer dollars being wasted.


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