REVIEW: Mad as Hell and Back by Shaun Micallef and Gary McCaffrie

In brief: Sketches from such wit as Mad As Hell, Newstopiä, The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) and Full Frontal.

The good: Some of my favourites are in this book.

The not-so-good: Some of my favourites are no in this book.

Why I chose it: Because Shaun Micallef is a National Legend, as discovered recently when a repeat of Mad as Hell was accidentally aired instead of fresh content.

Year: 2019

Pages: 370

Publisher: Hardie Grant

Rating: 10 out of 10

Everyone who hangs around my blog even on the most casual of occasions will know that Shaun Micallef is my favourite satirist and comedian (although in this book he does explain that Mad as Hell is more of a comedy show about current affairs rather than satire). This book is a collection of sketches written by Micallef and Gary McCaffrie for the silver jubilee of their sketches.

I remember watching Full Frontal when I was in school and my friend and I used to discuss who that grey-haired guy was in the background who sometimes said a few lines. As the internet was young at that time, we had to read things like the show credits and TV Week to work out his name. Eventually Shaun got a billing on Full Frontal and the rest is history. Milo Kerrigan, Nobby Doldrums, Fabio (the most beautiful man in the cosmos) and David McGahan and his role of Roger Explosion all entered the Australian psyche. (Probably also because the internet was still too slow and young). There are a few sketches from this period in the book but unfortunately none for these characters as in my opinion, they must be seen to be believed.

Shaun and Gary’s next project was The Micallef P(r)ogram(me), so titled because each of the three series had a different title – The Micallef Programme, The Micallef Program and The Micallef Pogram. This was in the style of a talk show with a difference – the difference being that the characters were fictional and hence, a lot funnier. The book covers some of these interactions with Shaun as well as the sketches. The most memorable of these sketches for me is included in the book (Pharmacy as a Career), so I can say I now have it on VHS, DVD and as a printed book.

The book leaves out Micallef Tonight which is kind of unfortunate for hardcore fans and those who don’t understand where the catchphrase, ‘into the bin!’ comes from. Possibly that’s because Channel Nine expected a real talk show with famous people, and not one with added goats and product reviews while riding a bucking bronco. There is then sketches from the criminally underrated Newstopiä, which was a wonderful news satire (sorry, comedy) that bit. This then led back to the ABC and Mad As Hell which is the best show on free to air television (also the only TV show I watch). Relive some of the most glorious sketches and characters, such as Ian Orbspider, Rear Admiral Bobo Gargle and Draymella Burt. There are also highly important announcements from Lois Price, high in the sky for Mad As Hell. These brought back a few memories, not just of the show but the crazy world of Australian politics. (I actually had to revise my Prime Ministers).

Overall, it’s a wonderful silver jubilee and well worth it for the fans. If you aren’t watching Mad As Hell, you should be.

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