Last night I farewelled a very old friend. Not with tears, but with smiles, laughter, and a respectful nod to the many memories we had made together.
We had drifted apart in recent years, and it was only by accident that I found myself at their final farewell. Fate had determined that I be right where I should be at the end.
In front of the television.
For the third (?) time in about 14 years, I sat down to farewell Good News Week (GNW).
Much in the same way an amazing musical artist or band can have a lasting effect on your life through their lyrics and by opening you up to a snowball effect of similar artists, and bonding with other people that ‘get it’, GNW was my comedy equivalent.
This satirical current affairs game show had been part of my life since I was 17. In the same way there are people who unite due to Star Trek, Buffy, Dr Who etc, there are comedy
nerds fans. This show shaped my late teens and early adult life. I made some incredible friendships (some I still have today) through our shared obsession affection.
My parents and my younger brother pretty much watched it from the start – the humble beginnings back at the ABC in 1996. They claim I ruined it for them! I didn’t really get into watching until late 1998 when I was in my final year of high school. I loved the show, as well as a couple of others on tv around the same time: Race Around The World, and Don’t forget your toothbrush. I thought the hosts were hilarious and incredibly good looking.
Some of you will already make the connection there…
Anyway, in late 1998 my Mum took me on a trip across the country to Sydney. Fantastic holiday, very special. We found out while we were there that Tim Ferguson who we both loved to bits was performing live in the 25th anniversary stage show of Rocky Horror.
Rocky Horror was my favourite ever movie ever ever ever in the entire world and “oh-my-god -Mum-we-have-to-go-can -we-can-we-can-we I don’t care if we can’t afford to climb the bridge and don’t do anything else all holiday please please please!!!”
How could she refuse?
So we went along and it was amazing (apart from a bizarre fight amongst women at our table who were complete strangers but ended up throwing red wine over each other). After the show, we hung around back stage and got to meet Tim. He signed my programme, had his photo taken with us and invited us up to the bar for a drink with the cast. But I was only 17 and not allowed in the casino. It was so unfair! Luckily I got to meet him again a year or two later and we had a nice long chat so I don’t feel too bad.
The point of that story was that I went home and wanted to know everything there possibly was to know about Tim. That led me to some online forums, which taught me about DAAS (The Doug Anthony Allstars). No wonder I thought it would be great if the hosts of all those shows I liked all worked together – they already had!
I made friends online with a group of fellow fans roughly around my age. After the live show here in Perth at the end of 1998 (where I not only sat front row but got to go backstage and meet everyone thanks to one of my new friends) we had regular meet ups and sleepovers where we would watch the back catalogue of Paul’s work, swap video and audio tapes of recent recordings and analyse every little eyebrow raise. We knew the words not only to every song but every skit. It was fun, our little community. And hey, being based on the news and fairly political we got a bit of an education too.
For the next 2 years I was OBSESSED with everything to do with Paul, Richard and Tim as well as anyone even remotely connected to them.
Every episode of GNW was spent skidding across the floor or crouched uncomfortably in front of the tv so I could cut out all the ad breaks. I watched the tapes over and over until they phased. You can understand why they said I was ruining it for them, huh?
I scoured bookshops for the elusive and highly prised ‘Book’. I never found it, but I did put together an impressive library of other comedy tomes. I also collected a bunch of newspaper and magazine clippings. I was going to photograph them too but they’re tucked away in a safe place right now.
Then finally in 2000, when Channel 10 had finally wrung as much as they could out of them and screwed around with the format one too many times, Good News Week came to an end. I can’t quite recall when – I have a video dated November 2000 at the Capitol Theatre, but Wikipedia says May 2000. Only us true
nerds fans will care.
So that was that. It was time to move on to something else. Grow up, get hooked on a new swag of comedians and try to appreciate Rove instead (yeah, that never happened). Time to stop analysing every tiny facial expression, and probably a good time to stop singing about dogs.
Time moved on. I found new things to obsess over (Pink Floyd, photography, fiction writing, Lush cosmetics). I still loved when an old song came on my ipod or there was a good comedy gala on but nothing was like the good old days. Seven… nearly eight years went by.
Then they were back. A little older, a little rusty, missing some old friends (Julie, Sandman, Flacco, The Gadflys and a host of fave guests etc) but more or less the old team.
I was enthusiastic. I wanted it to work. I wanted things to be justas they always had been. And for a while I was into it. But it was clear we’d grown apart. It was on too late, my partner didn’t want to watch it, I can not for the life of me stand Akmal. Little things like that. I wanted to love it but it was a bit like chatting to an old friend you dated in high school. You had fond memories but things just felt a little awkward.
I almost missed last night’s show. It was quite by accident that I turned the tv on when I did. Fate perhaps. It didn’t go out with a bang. I didn’t see any tears or stoic faces like there were back in 2000/01 or whenever it was. Just a nod, a bow and a few lines in a year book.
Paul sang “You’ll never walk alone”. It’s a song that means a lot to my Husband so we were pleased to see Paul did a fairly good job of it. We didn’t get the almost customary goosebumps, but I enjoyed it. It seemed apt really, as I don’t think I ever will walk alone. This silly little tv show has been with me for almost half my life and given me so many wonderful memories.
* I say the show ended 3 times not 2 as it moved tv stations in 1999. things were up in the air for a while.