Ten Types of Australian Film

Garry Gillard

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Chapter 8: Comedy

The comedy film is perhaps the most difficult type to write about: comedy is one of the original genres, and a very inclusive category.1 Not only is it difficult to analyse comedy per se, it is also one of the least singular or unified forms. By that I mean that it is rarely found alone, but almost always in combination with another genre, so that we have, for example, teen comedy, romantic comedy, social comedy, “gross-out” comedy, and so on. It’s fairly easy to identify comedy: it’s simply what gives rise to a humorous reaction, to amusement, and often to laughter, especially in groups. But it is more difficult to say how it does this, and to differentiate different types of comedy.

Perhaps there are two basic kinds of film comedy: comedian comedy and situation comedy.2 The first is arguably the “purer”, and relies on gags and sketches; the second has a more coherent narrative, and relies on the development of character or an awareness of social incongruities or contradictions. Among the second group, writers have identified certain forms of narrative comedy for individual treatment, including those mentioned above, and also “screwball” comedy, sex comedy, domestic comedy, parody and satire. In this chapter we’ll look at some of these kinds of comedy in the context of the Australian feature film, looking for anything stemming from the national character which might give a local inflection.

If there is anything characteristic of Australian film comedy, I’m going to suggest that the notion of “quirkiness” might be worth considering, for two reasons. One reason for following this line of thought is that “quirkiness” has so often been cited in this context that there might be something essential here. The other reason for a close look at the term is that it has rarely, if at all, been done before: although many writers use the word in quotation marks, they nevertheless take it for granted that everyone agrees on its meaning. I shall therefore investigate what is meant by “quirky” in some detail, and furthermore the proposition that what is characteristic about comedy in Australian cinema is that it is quirky—by which I mean that it typically (and therefore paradoxically) produces something unexpected.

The quirky epicentre of Australian cinema is 1994, the year of both “Muriel’s satirical nuptials” and “Priscilla’s farcical adventures”3—the quirky film having arrived in the Australian context in the 1990s, according to Tom O’Regan.4 O’Regan does not define “quirky”, and writes of particular complete films as being “quirky”, rather than some of their specific aspects. I want to suggest: firstly that quirkiness was around in Australian cinema long before anyone thought of applying the term; secondly, that it is a multi-faceted phenomenon; and thirdly, and most importantly, that its permutations form a significant part of the distinctiveness of Australian cinema. Finally, although I shall, for the purposes of this investigation, detect quirkiness in films of many kinds, it is mainly a function of comedies (and is also to be found in Australian art forms other than film).5

One writer who does define the term is Deb Verhoeven, in the article from which I have already quoted. She defines a quirk as “a characteristic flourish, a tic alluding to a larger difference. To ‘quirk’ is to strive to stand out from the flock”.6 She then goes into a series of avian metaphors in her own quirky excursion. But her definition is not originary: the “flourish” part is right, but not necessarily the “characteristic”. The original point about a “quirk” is that it is unexpected, uncharacteristic.

In the earliest use of the word that I have been able to find, from 1547, it is “of unknown origin” and refers to a “verbal trick, subtlety, shift, or evasion”.7 Clearly, in its origins, it is something that occurs in language, and, like a clever figure of speech, allows a speaker to surprise a listener. Similarly, in 1579 it is a “clever turn or conceit; a quip”. By analogy, in music (and in the same year) it is a “sudden turn; a fantastic phrase”. By 1601, that analogy has extended from words to deeds and is used to refer to a “trick in action or behaviour”. So “in drawing or writing” it is a “sudden twist, turn, or curve” (1605). Later in the seventeenth century (1679) a quirk may be a “piece added to, or taken from, regular figure, or cut out of certain surface”. Finally, the notion is literally set in stone, as an “acute hollow between the convex part of certain mouldings and the soffit or fillet”, in an architectural term from 1816.

Despite this movement from the ephemeral to the permanent, it’s clear through all these shifts that the meaning of a quirk has two characteristics: firstly, it is to do with style, and secondly, it is unexpected. However, as is often the case with words, part of the meaning has overtaken the original full meaning. It’s a process by which words sometimes even come to mean the opposite of what they once did. So, in a later set of definitions, which we are meant to understand as the current use of the word, a quirk is “1 A peculiar behavioural habit. 2 a strange chance occurrence. 3 a sudden twist, turn, or curve. 4 [architecture] an acute hollow between convex or other mouldings”.8 Although this has unexpectedness in three of the four definitions, in the first one it has gone, and a quirk has become in fact what Verhoeven says it is, a “characteristic flourish”, a “habit” which although “behavioural” and therefore to be expected, is also (characteristically) “peculiar”.

My argument is that it is useful to think about the Australian national cinema and therefore Australian comedies in both the “characteristic” sense and also the “unexpected” sense, both in relation to whole films (and even the whole of the national cinema) and to aspects of, or moments in, individual films. Note that I am not suggesting that Australian cinema is alone among national cinemas in exhibiting these characteristics—though it may have some claim to a special place in the medium-sized English-language category. I am not suggesting an absolute difference, merely a comparative one.

It is not hard to see why Australian movies characteristically produce something unexpected. As Tom O’Regan has shown at length and in detail, Australian cinema has to do something different from the mainstream commercial cinema, not only to win Oscars, but even simply to survive. In the context of the dominance of Hollywood in the English-speaking cinema, it is crucial for Australian films to stand out in some way. This has been most noticeably in the production of “quirky comedies”, although quirkiness is a characteristic found in many contexts and types of film.

Let us begin our investigation with “comedian” comedy, as there appears to be nothing remarkable about it in the Australian context, so it’s enough to give some examples of its existence. Perhaps the earliest instances are in two of Ken G. Hall’s films which were made as vehicles for men who already had a well-known stage act. Strike Me Lucky (Ken G. Hall, 1934) was intended to make available to a wider audience the character of “Mo”, the creation of Roy Rene (Harry Van der Sluice). The makeup for the character was so characteristic and so valuable to Roy Rene that he registered it with the Copyright Office, as can still be seen in the National Archives.9 Although the film has a complicated plot, the main reason for its coming to existence was to preserve “Mo’s most obvious characteristics—his grotesquely exaggerated Jewishness, his sputtering delivery of mildly blue jokes, and his heavy touches of pathos”.10 The other film of this kind directed by Hall is Let George Do It (Ken G. Hall, 1938): this time the comedian is George Wallace. This is less of a vehicle than the other: Rene plays his stage character, while Wallace does not. This was one of two films that he made for Cinesound, Hall’s company, the other being Gone to the Dogs (Ken G. Hall, 1939): both were financially successful, as were all of Hall’s films except one. Hall would not have undertaken making Strike Me Lucky if it were not for Roy Rene’s previous fame. According to Pike & Cooper, this fame was enough to pull people into the cinemas initially, until word of mouth got around that it was not actually a very successful film as such.11

It was fame on the vaudeville stage in the case of George Wallace and on radio comedy shows in the case of Roy Rene, which led to them being sources of ideas for feature films. Coming closer to the present, we find that it is now television which leads to performers getting parts in feature films, and, in some cases, actually driving the whole engine. But while it is a relatively small step from Ramsay Street to the big screen, as in the case of people like Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, it is a somewhat larger and not always well-advised move from stand-up comedy to acting in a feature film. Billy Connolly seems equally happy on stage or on a screen of any size, judging from The Man Who Sued God (Mark Joffe, 2002). The film has serious as well as comic aspects, but so does much stand-up comedy, including Connolly’s own work. As opposed to the style of Bob Hope, say, and much of the Marx Brothers’ work, which tended to be a series of one-liners, stand-up comedians are actually often using their medium to address serious issues, but, because of the unusual light they cast upon their material, the effect is humorous. The case of Jimeoin (McKeown) is rather from that of Connelly, as his only film to date is rather more analogous to Strike Me Lucky (whose title comes from one of Roy Rene’s stock lines). The Craic (Ted Emery, 1999) takes as its title a Gaelic word which according to the press kit is Irish slang for a belly laugh or a damned good time. Whereas Joffe’s film was written by Don Watson, this one was written by the star himself, and much of it consists of gags. There is a complicated story, as with Rene’s film, but, again like the earlier film, the purpose is to keep Jimeoin in the scene and with lines and in situations which are comic.

Other comedy films with performers who were well-known in the mass media before making a feature film include: Crackerjack (Paul Moloney, 2002), with Mick Molloy, Judith Lucy, and Bill Hunter; and Bad Eggs (Tony Martin, 2003), with the same three actors, among others. Tony Martin was Mick Molloy’s partner on radio for five years; Judith Lucy is a stand-up comedian who is also working in radio. Nick Giannopoulos was one of the performers in the popular comedy show Acropolis Now (TV series, Crawford Productions, 1989-92), which was based on a stage show called Wogs out of Work; he was one of the writers. Giannopoulos went on to star in The Wog Boy (Aleksi Vellis, 2000), for which he was also one of the writers, and then The Wannabes (2003), which he also directed.

Romantic comedy is a category with many examples among Australian feature films. This is a narrative which deals with the trials and tribulations of a couple establishing and working out a relationship—but in comic mode. Most romances, whether comic or not, predictably finish up with the girl(s) getting the guy(s) (or vice versa). The plural is relevant for Strange Planet (Emma-Kate Croghan, 1999), which manages to get no fewer than three couples together in the final scene. But most are satisfied with a single “Jane Austen” resolution: films such as Better Than Sex (Jonathan Teplitzky, 2000), Russian Doll (Stavros Kazantzidis, 2000; both with David Wenham), Paperback Hero (Anthony J. Bowman, 1999; with Hugh Jackman), and so on. It’s striking how many films of this type have two men interested in and therefore competing for one woman—Hotel de Love (Craig Rosenberg, 1996) is yet another one of many examples. Bryan Brown is in at least two romantic comedies: Sweet Talker (Michael Jenkins, 1991) and Dear Claudia (Chris Cudlipp, 1999), suggesting that an archetypal Aussie hero can also play a romantic lead. This is not to say, however, that there is anything strikingly Australian about these films: in fact, in one of them an American is cast as the female lead (Karen Allen, in Sweet Talker).

If there is a candidate for characteristically Australian romantic comedy, perhaps it may be found among: The Big Steal (Nadia Tass, 1990), Muggers (Dean Murphy, 1999), or Occasional Coarse Language (Brad Hayward, 1998). I’ll return to those in a moment.

But first I’d like to deal with a sub-category of the romantic comedy: the so-called “sex comedy”. In the American context, these are apparently certain films “of the 1950s and 1960s—films like Pillow Talk (1959) and Lover Come Back (1961)”. But in Australia, there is a group of films which are nothing like Rock Hudson/Doris Day films, but really deserve the title of sex comedies: I’m thinking of the Alvin Purple related group. There are three films with “Alvin” in the title: Alvin Purple (Tim Burstall, 1973), Alvin Rides Again (David Bilcock & Robin Copping, 1974), and Melvin Son of Alvin (John Eastway, 1984). The premise in each case is simple: Alvin (Graeme Blundell) is no alpha male, but for some reason women find him sexually irresistible; the same applies to offspring Melvin (Gerry Sont)—which gives rise to a good deal of nudity in all the films. The films are virtually unwatchable now, but historically important, at least in the case of the first one: it was one of the earliest renaissance films, and one of the first to show that an Australian film could actually be financially successful.

There are several other films of the 1970s of the soft porn and/or ocker kind which can be seen as related to the Alvin films: I’m thinking, for example, of the two Fantasms, whose directors were so not proud of their work that they released them under pseudonyms: Fantasm (“Richard Bruce” [Richard Franklin], 1976) and Fantasm Comes Again (“Eric Ram” [Colin Eggleston], 1977). They make some pretence to “document” women’s sexual fantasies, but this is simply a device to film soft porn for general release. The strategy was successful, in that both films were shown in regular cinemas and the first one, at least, returned a substantial profit for producer Antony I. Ginnane. Another worker in the exploitation business is John Lamond. He first appears as an uncredited actor in the first Alvin Purple, but was soon directing his own “documentary” porn films, Australia After Dark (John D. Lamond, 1974) and ABC of Love and Sex Australian Style (John D. Lamond, 1978). But whereas the Lamond films are not all that funny—or not intentionally, all the films with Blundell are. They include not only the Alvin films (in Melvin, Blundell appears as Melvin’s father) but also another survey “documentary”, The Naked Bunyip (John B. Murray, 1970). In this one, Blundell is the “researcher”, rather than the subject under view, but once again he plays the part with the same deadpan humour as he does Alvin. What humour there is in the Fantasm films also comes from the same aspect: the supposedly serious interviewer who is in fact parodic, or comic in some other way. So, in the first Fantasm, the “researcher” is Professor Jurgen Notafreud (John Bluthal), while in the second, the humorous frame is provided by (too) experienced reporter Harry (Clive Hearne) and his advice to cub reporter Libbie (Angela Menzies-Wills). To return to Blundell, he stars in yet another sex comedy in Pacific Banana (1981), also directed by John D. Lamond, this one based on airline antics. It’s arguable that the characters played by Blundell collectively represent an Australian character, an introverted, underconfident type who puts himself down before anyone else does: the type of the “cultural cringe”.

Domestic comedy is something Australian feature films seem to do quite effectively: consider the success of films like The Castle (Rob Sitch, 1997) and Muriel’s Wedding. As mentioned before, Australian conditions tend to favour the production of works on a small scale. There is also a strong culture of television culture in Australia (obviously also small-scale), which spills over onto the big screen, as we’ve seen when looking at comedian comedy. The Castle is archetypal domestic comedy: “ domestic” comes from the Latin for house, “domus”, and this is a story about a family and their defence of their house against resumption for an extension of an airport. Members of the team led by Sitch: Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Tiriel Mora were previously known for their work on television, notably in Frontline, for example, and they continue to work in that medium, with Tom Gleisner chairing The Panel, for example, on which Santo Cilauro and Rob Sitch are often to be seen. Part of the joke in The Castle is the bringing together of two normally distant spheres—the home and the High Court, the domestic and the national—when a distinguished barrister takes up the Kerrigans’ case pro bono. Lawrence Hammill (Charles “Bud” Tingwell) successfully argues that the Kerrigans’ situation is analogous to the native land rights issue for which the High Court’s “Mabo” decision provides precedent.

Like The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding signals its interest in domesticity in its title, in that it immediately draws attention to Muriel’s desire, if not to set up her own domestic space, at least to have the celebratory wedding which often precedes it. But whereas The Castle, although ironically, shows the home in a good light, as a place of affection and respect, Muriel’s Wedding show the home in a quite different light. There is enough satire in the film for it to merit its inclusion in the category of comedy, but there is dark quirkiness in the film as well, notably in the development when Muriel’s mother (Jeanie Drynan) sets fire to her own suburban backyard before killing herself. Betty Heslop is driven by to despair by her husband’s corruption and infidelity, but the last straw is that one of her sons is too lazy to cut the grass, so she burns it instead. But there are many more humorous scenes, some of them involving ABBA, and at least one involving slapstick: the scene in which Brice (Matt Day), in his haste to have sex, undoes the zips on the beanbag instead of the ones on Muriel’s jeans, resulting in great hilarity and nakedness, although not Muriel’s herself.

It’s useful to enlarge the category of the “domestic” by analogy to include a small community, as in the working group of The Dish (Rob Sitch, 2000), and the community of the small country town of The Road to Nhill (Sue Brooks, 1997). As it is “conceived and written” by the same people who gave us The Castle—Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch, it is perhaps not surprising that The Dish also conflates a kind of domestic space—the interior of the telescope at Parkes where the main characters work together—and an event of huge significance: the moon landing of 1969. In this case the point of the humour is in the contrast between the importance of the enterprise in which the men are engaged and the minutiae of their quirky characterisation. This is neatly symbolised, for example, in the scene in which a few of the characters play cricket on the surface of the huge reflecting dish of the telescope. Comedy often works by the juxtaposition of the substantial and the trivial, particularly where the important side of the couple is too full of its own self-importance, and needs some healthy mockery to restore some balance.

There is nothing requiring mocking in The Road to Nhill. This is gentle and affectionate portrait of a small country town, in which, one day, a small event occurs. Perhaps the quirkiest thing about this film is the paradoxical fact that, although it is almost by exclusion a comedy—because it isn’t anything else, it does not take every opportunity to be funny; in fact, it rarely seems to try. Late one afternoon, a car with four lady bowlers returning from a competition in another town rolls over when the driver is momentarily blinded by the sun on a deceptive corner. They are “rescued” and taken home, eventually; and that’s the whole story. The humour comes from the misunderstandings and delays involved in the procedures of getting out of the car and getting home, procedures involving a couple of country bumpkin farmers, a ludicrous volunteer fire service, a misinformed ambulance crew, and a policeman who is so busy committing adultery he misses the whole thing. To give an example of the kind of humour perpetrated: the first man on the scene is pig farmer Maurie (Paul Chubb). After a lot of business with various tools, shovels and hoes, with which he is entirely unsuccessful in achieving anything, he eventually installs in his truck the lady who seems to be most affected by the accident, apparently with the intention of conveying her with dispatch to get seen to. He then proceeds to stand around and watch the rest of the proceedings, even being told repeatedly to move his vehicle, while the poor lady sits confusedly in the cab. It is not until much later she at last has an uncomfortable ride home. Perhaps the only verbal joke in the whole script is that involving the title phrase. The men in the ambulance radio base to check the location of the accident, and ask whether it has taken place on Nhill Road, or the “road that actually goes to Nhill”. They are told in effect that they have asked a stupid question—and as a result go to the wrong location and have to retrace their route when they eventually realise the mistake. Though Australian productions do not have a mortgage on this type of humour, it may still perhaps be seen as characteristic of Australians to mock themselves in such a laconic, gently sardonic way.

Satire is a final type of humour which might be considered as a separate type. It has already been mentioned in this chapter, as it’s impossible to keeps such categories distinct—and indeed pointless, as they interpenetrate in almost any given text. However, there are types of films where the over-riding intention is so clearly to mock a particular type or group that other elements tend to fade into the background. Country people are perhaps the most consistently satirised in Australian films. Such mockery is probably to be found in almost all culture and literatures: what makes it specifically Australian is of course the particular characteristics possessed by Australian country people. The progenitor of country bumpkin comedy can be seen to be Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis), who published the first of the series of ten Rudd family books, On Our Selection, in 1899, the first story having been published in The Bulletin in 1895. Several Rudd stories were staged first as plays and then as films, the first of the latter being On Our Selection (Raymond Longford, 1920). However, ironically due to the success of Rudd’s books and plays, there had already two other backblocks comedy families on the screen, the first of which was The Hayseeds [aka Our Friends, The Hayseeds] (Beaumont Smith, 1917), followed soon after by another three Hayseeds shows, and then The Waybacks (Arthur W. Sterry, 1918). The Waybacks (based on novels by Henry Fletcher) was one a kind, but there were a large number of Hayseeds films, all directed by Beaumont Smith, and released in 1917 (three), 1918, 1923 (two), and then, in sound, in 1933 and 1934. All the Hayseeds material was written by Smith himself, who was such a speedy director he was known as “One-shot Beau” and “That’ll Do Beau”.13

The first two Rudd family films were directed by Raymond Longford: On Our Selection (1920), and Rudd’s New Selection (1921), and, although with their lighter moments, they were naturalistic rather than comedic, and based on the original Steele Rudd stories, rather than the theatrical accretions that came after them. However, Ken G. Hall’s first Rudd film was based on the stage play by Bert Bailey and Edmund Duggan and contains more farcical elements. Hall directed four such films: On Our Selection (1932), Grandad Rudd aka Ruling the Roost (1935), Dad and Dave Come To Town (1938), and Rudd, M.P. (1940). Perhaps a quotation from Pike & Cooper describing some of the action of the second of these can serve to give some idea of the tendency of the content of all: “The many episodes of slapstick include a bizarre country cricket match, the pursuit of a runaway tractor, and a Band of Hope meeting, which Grandad breaks up when he gets drunk”.14 The 1938 film, which introduced Peter Finch as a gangly yokel in love with one of the Rudd daughters, has almost nothing to do with the original Steele Rudd stories. Finally, Dad and Dave: On Our Selection was remade and released in 1995, directed by George Whaley, with a stellar cast including Leo McKern (Dad), Geoffrey Rush (Dave), Ray Barrett, Barry Otto, Noah Taylor, and coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland as Mother Rudd!

Country people are not the only ones to be satirised. In Barry Humphries’ work they are among the few types and groups not to be mocked. Humphries has played parts in many films, but there are three in which he may be seen as a major driving force, as well as appearing as an actor: The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Bruce Beresford, 1972), Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (Bruce Beresford, 1974), and Les Patterson Saves the World (George Miller, 1987). Barry McKenzie began as a strip written by Humphries (but drawn by Nicholas Garland) for the satirical magazine Private Eye, and then made into the two films which he wrote with the director. The third film is based on another character created by Humphries, “Sir Les Patterson, Minister for the Yartz”, and was written for the screen by him together with Executive Producer Diane Millstead.

Barry McKenzie is the innocent (or “ugly Australian”) abroad. The plot device of an inheritance requiring him to go to England allows the film-makers to portray the behaviour of Australians in London at its absolute imagined worst. This makes an nice comparison with a much earlier film, also with a satirical intention and with a similar device, It Isn’t Done (Ken G. Hall, 1937). However, in Hall’s film the main object of the satire is the other way around, and it is the stuffy class-bound English who are its target, when down-to-earth Australian farmer Hubert Blaydon (Cecil Kellaway) discovers that many sensible things are “not done” in the Old Country. He finds a way to give up his inheritance, and is happy to return to Australia.

Les Patterson Saves the World was not well received on its appearance, partly perhaps because it came out the year after the amazingly successful Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986). Both are big-budget comedies aimed at international (as well as local) audiences, and both present a particular type of Australian abroad. But whereas the Paul Hogan vehicle offered a positive (although fantasy) Australian character who was of interest to both local and American audiences in a fairly gentle satire with action-adventure aspects, the Barry Humphries vehicle is misanthropic, “cruel, solipsistic, scatological and deliberately tasteless”. Not only that, but Adrian Martin also points out that it is too complex: while the “tone is high farce”, “it aims to be a multi-genre ‘action comedy’ with a bit of everything thrown in”.15

The three Crocodile Dundee films would probably not have been made if Paul Hogan did not already have a high profile as a television performer, so in that sense they are “comedian comedies”—as are the Barry Humphries films mentioned. But while Humphries’ films included characters he had already created, the character of Mick “Crocodile” Dundee was a new one for Hogan, based on one or more Northern Territory stories. Hogan’s writers, Ken Shadie and John “Strop” Cornell, together with himself, uses the character to some extent to satirise himself but more to develop a “fish out of water” scenario, or, better, “innocent abroad”, which brings out the best and worst in both visitor and visited. The situation is reversed in the second film, unimaginatively called Crocodile Dundee 2, directed by Cornell (who had been Hogan’s offsider on The Paul Hogan Show on TV), which appeared two years later. Much of this film has the American tough guys in Australia, being subjected to ridicule at Mick’s hands (a situation repeated more recently in Dirty Deeds).

It’s not all that surprising that Americans are occasionally subjected to varying degrees of humiliation in these films, as Teddy (Johnathon Schaech) is also, to give one more very striking example from the comic domain, in Welcome to Woop Woop (Stephan Elliott, 1997). Australians have an ambivalent relationship with the USA, and perhaps none more so than the folk working in the film industry, so it’s not surprising that elements of the socio-economic background get thematised once in a while—in the treatment handed out to the characters played by Gus Mercurio or John Goodman or Johnathon Schaech. This may possibly be seen as a comical metonym for the David and Goliath struggle in which our diminutive film industry is engaged with the giant Hollywood. Comedy, particularly the satirical kind, is a form which lends itself to political and social expression, and this treatment of American characters might conceivably be seen as a quirky commentary—or maybe just a wish-fulfilment fantasy about just occasionally getting on top: in making a more successful comedy film, say.

1 A treatise on comedy was supposedly the lost second book of Aristotle’s Poetics (the first is on tragedy). See Aristotle, Poetics I with Hypothetical Reconstruction of Lost Book on Comedy, trs Richard Janko, Hackett Classics, Indianapolis; Leon Golden 1984, “Aristotle on Comedy”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 42: 283-90; Umberto Eco 1984, The Name of the Rose, trs William Weaver, Picador, London.

2 Steve Seidman 1981, Comedian Comedy: A Tradition in the Hollywood Film, UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor.

3 Deb Verhoeven 2000, “History of cheap guffaws (hehehe)”, Cinema Papers, 134, August/September: 30-33; this quotation: 30.

4 Tom O’Regan 1996, Australian National Cinema, Routledge, London: 196.

5 Such as: Reg Livermore’s “Betty Blokk-buster Follies” — the stage show; the Norman Gunston interviews — on television; Rolf Harris’s “Jake the Peg” — in song: the list could be a long one.

6 Verhoeven 2000: 31.

7 All of the definitions in this paragraph are from the Oxford English Dictionary.

8  Concise Oxford English Dictionary, tenth edition, 1999.

9; When Lord Beauchamp, the Governor of New South Wales, wrote a fulsome letter to Mo telling him “Your art is an important expression of the Australian ethos”, Mo commented, “Gor blimey, I hope that’s a compliment!”

10 Pike & Cooper 1998: 167.

11 Pike & Cooper 1998: 168.

12 Neale 2000: 71.

13 Pike & Cooper 1998: 68.

4 Pike & Cooper 1998: 169.

15 Adrian Martin, in Murray 1998: 223.

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