The Late Show: 20th Anniversary

By David Knox on July 18, 2012 / Filed Under News 17

It was 20 years ago today that The Late Show first aired on ABC TV.

Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, Rob Sitch and Jason Stephens brought us two seasons of their champagne comedy, after their earlier sketch show The D-Generation and a failed Channel 9 pilot The Late Late Show. Judith Lucy joined for the second season.

It was irreverent Australian fun, with its hallowed segments The Late Show News Headlines, Shit Scared, Graham and the Colonel, PissWeak World, Bargearse, Street Talk, Charlie the Wonderdog (with Bud Tingwell), Shirty: The Slightly Aggressive Bear, and a revoiced Rush as The Olden Days.

It’s hard not to look past their ever so wrong musical numbers in which Mick Molloy would always book an act with the wrong name: Pete Smith instead of Aerosmith singing “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”, Norman Yemm singing R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, Mike Whitney as Whitney Houston performing “I Will Always Love You”,┬áRon Barassi as Shirley Bassey singing the theme from Thunderball and “Baby” John Burgess performing “One Word” by Baby Animals. Apparently they just couldn’t entice Jana Wendt to sing Nirvana or Bananarama…

But the triumph had to be having then-Victorian premier Joan Kirner singing Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock & Roll” backed by her minister David White. Classic.

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These days Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, and Rob Sitch are still busy with Working Dog Productions, while Mick Molloy is on Triple M and Before the Game, Tony Martin has published “Scarcely Relevant,” Jason Stephens produces for FremantleMedia and Judith Lucy is still packing them in whenever she steps onto the stage.

Tony Martin today tweeted: “Thanks to all for Late Show anniv wishes. 20 years ago tonight I was preparing to tell the nation I’d just removed a hatstand from my arse.”

Lastly, there’s a great fan site for The Late Show at Champagne Comedy.

Thanks for the memories!

17 Comments »

  1. David Knox July 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm -

    Ivan Reitman he is a geniusssss.

  2. Menicci July 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm -

    I have nearly all of them on tape, as well as all of the D Gen stuff from the 80’s. This has made me want to look at them again, but I think it would take me months to find them. I did watch the D-Gen stuff about 14 years ago (at that time it was about 16 years old) and it was still hilarious.

    I think the funniest thing I can recall from The late Show was when Rob Sitch did Yasser Arafat, with the eyes. Now that was champagne comedy!

  3. Sydney2K July 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm -

    I’m looking at the Champagne Edition of the Best Bits of The Late Show even as I type…

  4. loppy July 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm -

    Happy b’day late show. Would love the panel to return.

  5. SB July 19, 2012 at 11:53 am -

    20 years! I am old.

    Best Australian sketch comedy show ever.

    (along with the Micallef Pogram, anyway)

    @Dayman – Pretty sure you will find that the ABC won’t have all the episodes on tape.

  6. iolanthe July 19, 2012 at 10:51 am -

    It’s a sad reflection on Australian TV that I can’t think of anything since that’s been funnier. There’s been occasional reasonable comedy but nothing to match it although “Frontline” was a work of genius.

  7. Grantly July 19, 2012 at 7:29 am -

    The true genius of comedy is when something is still funny to watch 20 years after it was made.

    The Late Show is one of those rare shows that has achieved this.

    Truly Champagne Comedy

  8. spiro July 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm -

    And let’s not forget “Funky Squad”… oh hang on… yes let’s forget that one

  9. Frankie July 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm -

    Just to be picky but Joan Kirner appeared after when “Flag on the Bonnet” was premier in 1993.

  10. Secret Squirrel July 18, 2012 at 9:53 pm -

    Wow, 20 years. Would def be interested in watching the D-Gen and Late Shows again, followed by Frontline. How about 8:30 on Wed on the ABC? – there’s nothing worth watching there at the mo’.

  11. clofts July 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm -

    Time for a reunion.. Australian TV is lacking in champagne comedy like the Late Show..

  12. michaeltv July 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm -

    Thanks for this story David. The Working Dog teams legacy in Australian TV is outstanding…D-Gen, Late Show, Frontline, A River Somewhere, Thank God You’re Here, Pictures Of You…Hoping for a Hall of Fame Logie for the team in the future..

  13. kaz July 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm -

    It certainly was ‘champagne comedy’ every week. Working Dog have produced some fantastic series since The Late Show, but I still miss seeing the entire crew performing together.
    For me one of the funniest skits they ever did was the organised old age pensioners that purposely disrupted traffic etc with tactical precision. Hilarious!

  14. Sharpy July 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm -

    @Dayman you just have to blame the lawyers and the many different copyright holders out there.

    Happy birthday TLS!

  15. Mia July 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm -

    I have so many find memories of The Late Show.
    It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced such genuine belly laughs.

  16. Shiraz July 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm -

    What a great show. The toilet breaks were always something I looked forward to. The dancer, who pulled a Hamstring during his act on a talent show, was a favourite.

  17. Dayman July 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm -

    Why has the entire show not come out of DVD or something? The best of’s are one thing. Why not the whole thing?

    Even just re-aired or something.

    You just have to look at some of the stuff on youtube that isn’t on the DVD to see there’s plenty of great stuff.

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