Need something new to binge, read, or listen to? Your fave Aussie comedians have got you covered!
It’s safe to say that we’ve probably had a lot of free time lately – which means we’ve been watching more film and tv, reading more books, and listening to more music and podcasts than we normally would. Luckily, before they hit the Sydney Opera House Stage for Let’s Laugh, some of your fave Aussie comedians are sharing their top recommendations.
I religiously watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver every week. Hands-down the smartest and funniest show on television at the moment, it has been the perfect dose of sanity during the bin fire of a year we seem to have had.
I May Destroy You is an amazing HBO series from the UK, created, written and starring Michaela Coel. It’s a perfect example of contemporary storytelling and casting, delivered in handy bingeable episodes that are only about thirty minutes long.
My daughter got me into Teen Titans Go! and as a lover of cartoons, I was almost ashamed to say I had never properly sat down to watch this one. It’s like watching a super hero show, while having some kind of malaria fever dream on a sugar rush but damn, it is fun-ny! And when you get to the four-part story based on an ’80s-theme song found on an album of production music, you know that there are absolutely no rules to this one.
Also, some special mentions to: Lovecraft Country – the sci-fi fantasy series ambitiously set in 1950’s Jim Crow-era America, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – the riveting doco about Michelle McNamara’s obsession with catching a cold case serial killer, and Love, Death and Robots – the Netflix adult animation show that has stories and visuals to blow your tiny mind.
As a family, we are currently working through The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. After reading The Magic Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair stories, this seemed like the natural next step. To be honest, it could be argued some of it has dated a teensy little bit (did somebody say “child kidnapping and grown-ups threatening to shoot innocent dogs”?) which certainly has led to some interesting bedtime conversations, but we’ve learned to put those to one side and enjoy the adventure so my daughter isn’t demanding we “Cancel Enid” for now.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is one I kept meaning to get to and finally got it out of my bookshelf this year. A true and un-whitewashed history of Australia’s First Nations people, I believe it is an absolute must. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. After being so despondent watching his Netflix special, I thought I’d really go to town on myself by methodically working through the bleak outlook for our planet in print form. Good call, me! Disgusting McGrossface and Rocky Lobstar. What, you think this is just a pathetic way to plug my own children’s books? Bingo!
With the days feeling a little longer than most, I’ve been getting lost in some fine podcast work at the moment. First up, Cameron James and Alexei Toliopoulos are back with the follow-up to their incredible docu-saga Finding Drago from last year, called Finding Desperado. These boys know how to tell a story and if you haven’t caught either tale, you are doing yourself a disservice. Get on board before some bonehead spoils the ending for you.
I was a huge fan of Justin Hamilton’s Big Squid podcast as Hammo deep-dived into the Watchmen comics and TV series. When he shifted the format to a more segment-driven magazine-entertainment show, it didn’t miss a beat. This is now a perfect weekly decompression that I love enjoying in parts or sometimes in its entirety from start-to-finish.
When it comes to music, like the rest of planet Earth, I got on board the Hamiltrain as we finally got to see the actual stage version of Hamilton: The Musical. It sent me back to the Hamilton soundtrack I had enjoyed previously and this time I dragged my wife and daughter along with me. We now do our very best to sadly rap along to their incredible hip-hop lyrical skills. I have never felt so white.
Also, as I wait for the Unreleased album, I’ve been going back to some Powderfinger favourites. Those boys never get stale.
I won’t recommend to you what my social media algorithm has suggested to me, or you too may have to wring the tears out of your t-shirt after watching a three-legged rescue elephant hear her estranged sisters voice for the first time via a cochlear implant, or some such life affirming montage set to impossibly stirring music. But here are some things I would recommend:
Ted Lasso is the witty and refreshing plug for the hole Schitt’s Creek left in your life. Jason Sudeikis is a moustachioed dreamboat in this Trans-Atlantic dramedy that’s sort of about soccer but mostly about being a decent person. If you’re lucky you’ll have some erotic dreams about the moustache after you watch it. I know I did!
Also, The Farewell is such a great film! The Great on Stan is the best kind of bonkers. Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever on Netflix is delightful. As soon as I finished I Hate Suzie on Stan, I immediately watched it again. Years and Years on SBS On Demand is heavy, but brilliant. And Emma Thompson is incredible in it. I would give her a kidney if she asked.
If you want a good laugh, find a horoscope book from 2019 predicting your year for 2020. Mine started off “Aries, this is your year…” LOL. In truth, actual books have been a real relief for my eyeballs that seem very disgruntled by my current daily average of 6.5 hours of screen time. So here we go:
Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller is just a very nice read. It offers a strong vibe of grounded hope and some hectic descriptions of fish guts. I re-read Born Standing Up by Steve Martin and if you are interested in the beginnings of Stand Up, or just enjoy being delighted by a brilliant person writing about their life and creative process, it’s one of the best books out there. I really wanted to tackle some of the classics like 100 Years of Soltitude and Wuthering Heights, but I felt like the former was potentially a pretty big trigger for a single woman in lockdown, and the latter, well…Kate Bush covered the main plot points.
The second season of Alexei Toliopolous and Cameron James’ podcast Finding Desperado is excellent (if you didn’t listen to Season One, stop reading this immediately and listen to that in it’s entirety). And while you’re listening to ABC Podcasts, chuck on Once Bitten and remember a time when venues were at full capacity and we laughed, unmasked, with reckless abandon *sigh*
Also, if you’re feeling stagnant, my advice is to whack on an epic movie soundtrack. Something with a little adventure, like an Indiana Jones or a Jurassic Park. Really adds an exciting sense of peril to the working from home environment and that threatening feeling will jazz up any household chore.
Little Italy. My housemate and I watched this movie after scrolling through Netflix for 45 mins trying to find something we hadn’t seen. It has a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, funded by Screen Canada, and stars Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) doing an incredibly bad New York accent and confirming what we all knew: he truly is the worst actor alive.
Long Strange Trip. This is a doco series about The Grateful Dead and it’s so good! It goes into detail about Dead Heads, the counter-cultural movement surrounding the band, and the inception of the band all the way to Jerry Garcia’s death from eating too much McDonalds (lol it was definitely the heroin that killed him). Can’t recommend enough!
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton Like most people at the moment, I’m in a deep personal crisis so have been reading self-help books aimed at millennial women. Everything I Know About Love is a quick/blog-like read that teaches you little-to-nothing about love but makes you deeply concerned for sweet Dolly due to the sheer volume of stories involving pubs and bottles of wine.
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. I hadn’t read this in years but I thought I’d crack it back open as I’m midst of a fight with my neighbour who keeps using his whipper sniper at 7:30am (which to me is TEXTBOOK psychopath behaviour). Unfortunately, Jon Ronson has very little advice for domestic disputes.
Dusty In Memphis by Dusty Springfield. One of the best records of all time. Sometimes I sing and play guitar very loudly to ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ and my neighbour doesn’t like it and bangs angrily on my wall. I think that’s why he does all that early morning whipper snipping. We do not like each other.
Julia Jacklin. Julia is the best Australian artist of the last ten years, and that’s a fact no one can deny. Her two studio records are constantly in my top played lists on Spotify. Once I sat next to her in the Virgin Lounge (an airline that used to exist) and after 25 minutes built up the courage to talk to her. This was the conversation:
Sam: Hi! I just wanted to say I looooove your music!
Julia: Thanks! *boarding call for her flight*
Julia: *Julia leaves the lounge*
That’s the only time we’ve met.
Schitts Creek! It took me a few goes to get into this series and then when it won all the Emmys I thought I needed to stick with it. And what a pay off – it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. I think I’ve watched so much that I’m starting to talk like Catherine O’Hara (what about the bebbeeeyyy). There are six seasons on Netflix, so it’s at least a few weeks of binging.
I’ve also been watching the Long Way Up – the series documenting Ewan Macgregor and Charley Boorman’s motorcycle ride from Argentina to Los Angeles. We obviously can’t travel at the moment so this provides a bit of wanderlust.
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Ried. I just finished this and it was a real page turner. I often don’t continue books if they don’t grab me in the first few chapters. I read this in a couple of days. It explores racial differences and is also entertaining. Often it’s hard to find a book that does both!
I’m the kind of person who hears a song I like then plays it over and over again. I’m not sure what kind of behavioural trait that is, but sometimes my Spotify #1 song will be some daggy song of the past that makes me feel good. I’ve been playing this song ‘One Headlight’ by The Wallflowers because there’s this scene in The King of Staten Island movie where they’re all drunk and singing arm-in-arm in a bar and it reminded me of being drunk in a pub with my friends – which we haven’t done much of this year.
Catch some of your fave Aussie comedians including Rove McManus, Nikki Britton, Sam Taunton, Lizzy Hoo, and a stack more when Let’s Laugh takes over Sydney Opera House’s Joan Sutherland Theatre on Friday 27 November and Saturday 28 November. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.