“Everybody Knows That The Best Source Of Iron Is Human Blood…”

Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney in “The Katering Show”I can’t remember exactly how I “discovered” The Katering Show (2015-16), but since sampling the first episode of this (NSFW!) Australian cookery-show parody a week ago, I’ve been gobbling it down and loving every bite/byte! The web-series was written and directed by its stars, Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, who drew on their own food-related proclivities/prohibitions for inspiration… specifically, McCartney was diagnosed with numerous pesky intolerances, which her real-life friend (and enthusiastic foodie) McLennan found extremely confusing/frustrating. To quote an NPR interview transcript: “I was constantly asking her, you know, so can you eat zucchinis? Can you eat – like, what kind of cheese? So you can eat parmesan but you can’t eat brie – like, what’s the deal with that? And just constantly interrogating her about her food intolerances… [And] there was a moment where I thought, I can solve these problems for you, I can teach you how to cook. And that’s kind of where the idea for the show came about.” And so, her onscreen alter-ego zealously set about developing “delicious recipes that won’t make McCartney sh*t her pants.”

 Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan in “The Katering Show”Although these recipes are hilarious to read in their written form, they never look particularly appetizing… or even edible… but that isn’t the point, of course. The point is to squeeze as many laughs as possible out of foodie culture, and cookery-show clichés… which the two Kates do with remarkable panache. They’re both fantastically funny in their own right, but also make a great double-act, with McLennan’s bubbly enthusiasm pitted against McCartney’s cynical resentment… and it’s always fun to see the tension between their characters undercutting their forced TV-smiles… though they just as often unleash their mutual scorn on various fads and social trends, snarkily sniping at everything from overpriced kitchen gadgetry to organic farmers’ markets (which apparently make McLennan “involuntarily bleed out of [her] anus”). There are also some delightfully silly visual gags scattered in amongst all the deft artisanal dialogue, involving continuity-breaking cuts, and needlessly-extended close-ups of taps running, or random man-hands poking at the ingredients. I don’t generally assign ratings in these “reviews”, but if I did then TKS would score five solid-gold rolling-pins out of five. Hell, even their promos and “apology” snippets are jam-packed with more jokes than a lot of half-hour sitcoms I could (but won’t) mention! Meanwhile, the episode (#2.2) where McLennan decides to use her own recently-birthed placenta as the base for a lasagna (or “plasagne”, as she calls it), is one of the most disgusting/disturbing things you’re ever likely to see outside of a horror movie… and the most explicit example of the darker sensibility lurking beneath the show’s shiny, orange-clad veneer. Note: It wasn’t until I read a couple other reviews that I realised the jolly logo emblazoned on their aprons incorporates a circle of human intestine… shudder…

Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan in “The Katering Show”Sadly, it looks as if the second “seasoning” (pun!) of TKS was also its last… but the good news is that McC & McL are working on a new full-length TV series for the ABC titled Get Krack!n, in which they take a Sassy Swipe™ at breakfast television. To quote the official blurb: “With no sense of on-camera technique, the Kates will shuffle through a roster of unsafe demonstrations, surly guests, underprepared experts, and the over-lit decomposition of the duo’s already rocky relationship.” Bonzer!

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Full Honours

Samantha Bee presenting “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents Not The White House Correspondents' Dinner” (2017)I don’t seem to have written anything about Full Frontal With Samantha Bee since it debuted, back in early 2016… which is very remiss of me, because I watch the show religiously (often replaying episodes a couple times over, so I can catch all the jokes), and am always disappointed when it disappears for a couple weeks… so I couldn’t pass up this chance to shine a light on Samantha Bee and her diligent staffers, now that they’ve scored such an impressive number of Emmy Award nominations: “Outstanding Variety Series (Talk)” and “Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series” for the main show… plus “Outstanding Variety Music Or Comedy Special”, “Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special”, “Outstanding Directing For A Variety Special”, and “Outstanding Production Design For A Variety Nonfiction Event Or Award Special”, for their Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner spin-off and, last-but-not-least, “Outstanding Interactive Program” for their website! So, snaps to the FFWSB team for all of that… and hopefully Bee will be able to use her witchy powers and/or “Deep State” connections to tip the odds in their favour…

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Quasi-GothWatch: Lazy Susan

Freya Parker and Celeste Dring in “Lazy Susan's Sexy Halloween Guide”Although country-bumpkins like myself only became aware of Celeste Dring after she was cast as Princess Eugenie in The Windsors, she first rose to fame as one half of the sketch-comedy duo Lazy Susan, along with fellow actress Freya Parker. They’ve scored some glowing reviews for their live shows over the years… and thankfully, they’ve also been captured on video a couple times, for posterity (but not prosperity?). Regular readers probably won’t be too surprised to learn that my fave skit (so far) is their “Sexy Halloween Guide”, in which they muck about while modelling various costumes, which they insist are “sexy”, despite the lip-stick-stained teeth, lop-sided wigs, and disturbing brags about hidden faeces! All-in-all, it’s a fantastically strange and funny spoof… though I can’t deny that seeing Dring in a goth-y witch’s outfit is also a big part of the sketch’s appeal for me. Sorry. As noted before, the “male gaze” is very adept at filtering out irony/satire, and just enjoying what it sees on the basest level…

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“I Did It! I *Am* A Waitress!”

Celeste Dring as 'Eugenie' and Ellie White as 'Beatrice' in Marie Claire’s “How to Dress for A Wedding With The Windsors of Channel 4” (7/17)Huzzah! The Windsors returned for a well-deserved second series of satirical spoofery this week, with new characters a-plenty… including Gillian Bevan as British Prime Minister ‘Theresa May’ (Boo! Hiss!), and Kathryn Drysdale as ‘Meghan Markle’, an American actress who’s currently dating the real-life Prince Harry. Apparently Drysdale binge-watched Suits and trawled through Markle’s Instagram posts to help get into character… even though this show is an exaggerated cartoon, rather than a super-serious study. Commitment!

It was also great to see Vicki Pepperdine returning as the phantom-like ‘Princess Anne’, berating her recently downgraded nieces ‘Beatrice’ (Ellie White) and ‘Eugenie’ (Celeste Dring). The adorably sloaney sister-princesses remain my fave characters of the series (despite very strong competition from Morgana Robinson‘s swear-y, cursing ‘Pippa’), and apparently someone at Marie Claire is also a fan, as they invited the two not-really-royals to pop into the mag’s fashion cupboard to record a very funny wedding-fashion-themed vlog: “Follow their journey as they navigate the tricky world of fascinators et al”… fun!

Still no sign of a DVD of Series 1 though… sniffle…

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“You’re Ruining The Apocalypse!”

Fans of all-female Canadian sketch-comedy had plenty to celebrate this week, as her ladyship the Baroness von Sketch Show returned for a second season… hot on the heels of the news that the show has been picked up for transmission in the U.S. (starting next month), courtesy of IFC. Interestingly the article I linked above also notes that its home network, CBC, “announced a commitment last year to boosting the number of women directing scripted series, with a goal of women comprising half or more of all directors”, so yay for that.

Jennifer Whalen, Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, and Carolyn Taylor in "Baroness von Sketch Show" (S2)And, yes, the first episode of this new season was indeed directed by a female-person (specifically Yael Staav), and featured a fine selection of satirical skits… my personal fave being the one about a band of punky warrior-women in a Mad-Max-esque future, who had participated in a gendercidal purge, and are now starting to regret their haste. I also enjoyed the sketch where a mime-based miscommunication between a couple at an awkward social gathering leads to an unexpectedly violent conclusion… ‘cuz I’m a sicko like that. I don’t remember the first season being as graphic as this episode was… but that may just be because I’m getting old and forgetful now? Curiously, Meredith MacNeill was responsible for most of the onscreen blood-letting here… which only makes her more crush-worthy in my eyes (if that were possible).

Either way, it was a strong start to the season, as the show sets out its stall for a new audience, south of the border.

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Ratz Rool!

¥o-Landi Vi$$er (circa 2012)A friend of mine is a big fan of the South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord, and frequently shares images and videos of the delightfully disreputable duo (technically a trio, if you include their producer “God”?). I can’t say their music is really my cup-of-tea, but I do admire their in-ur-face attitude, scrappy “zef”-punk style, and insane promo clips… all of which inspired writer/director Neill Blomkamp to produce the 2015 sci-fi flick Chappie, just to speculate on what would happen if the pair ever got their inky fingers on a military-grade battle-bot! They were also the stars of a short (NSFW) film by Harmony Korine called Umshini Wam (2011), in which they played onesie-wearing wannabe-gangsters who choose to travel everywhere in wonky wheelchairs, for no apparent reason. It’s actually a lot darker/sadder/funnier than that description might suggest, and is currently rocking an audience approval rating of 81% at Rotten Tomatoes!

Their most recent audio-visual release is a (NSFW) horror-comedy-skit, titled “Tommy Can’t Sleep”, starring their own 12-year-old daughter Sixteen Jones as a sweary young boy whose bedroom is infested with sleazy, scheming rats. The joint is directed by the duo’s fairer half, ¥o-Landi Vi$$er (aka Anri du Toit), who also cameos as the vermin’s anthropomorphic pitch-woman, luring the feisty lad down their rrrat-hole, into an orgy of nightmarish depravity. Sixteen Jones as ‘Tommy’ in “Tommy Can't Sleep”It plays like the trailer for an insomnia-fuelled mash-up of David Lynch and John Waters, with excessive f-bombs, and a nonsensical “ending”… and much like their previous promos, it bitch-slaps your eye-balls, and burrows under your brain-skin, with its disorienting intensity/oddity. I shudder to think what would happen if they were allowed/encouraged to adapt it into a full-length feature film… but it’s a shudder of excitement, as much as fear…

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Game Of Phones

Kae Alexander as 'Kendra' and Ellie Kendrick as 'Ani' in "Gloria" (6/17)Apparently Ellie Kendrick (aka England’s Sweetheart) can currently be seen treading the boards in Gloria, a satirical office-based dramedy running at London’s Hampstead Theatre, alongside former GoT co-star Kae Alexander. This Pulitzer-Prize-nominated play depicts the frustrations of the junior editorial staff of a failing magazine, and has been garnering great reviews in the press, so here are a couple choice quotes about the highly-praised performers:

“Kae Alexander’s nicely observed Kendra is image-conscious and competitive, and Ellie Kendrick convinces as nerdy, childlike Ani…” (The Evening Standard)

“The cast of Michael Longhurst’s production are uniformly great: Ellie Kendrick is perfect as Ani, the ‘pretty nerd’ whose sweetness is tempered with a knee-jerk faux-friendliness. Kae Alexander is appropriately appallingly as Kendra, the snarking, self-promoting rich kid…” (Time Out)

Ellie Kendrick as 'Ani' in "Gloria" (6/17)“Michael Longhurst directs a tightly wound production, his six-strong, multi-roling cast – all exceptional, particularly […] Ellie Kendrick as a variety of bubbly colleagues – inflecting Jacobs-Jenkins’ comedy-drama with a disconcerting tension…” (The Stage)

Note: I had considered travelling up to watch it as a b-day treat, but I’m still crushing hard on Kendrick, and was worried it would feel too much like stalking. The last thing the poor woman needs is some creepy old man eye-balling her from the cheap-seats while she’s trying to work! Sigh…

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