Hey Hey It S Saturday
Hey hey it’s almost polling day. And in this shameless orgy of self-promotion and vote-grabbing, Tony Abbott has shot to the front of the pack with Channel Nine revealing he’s going to be a guest judge on the Red Faces segment tomorrow night.
The program which made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year with an ill-conceived black face sketch involving the Jackson Five has now secured the services of the alternative prime minister to wield the gong on its talent spot.
The Punch thinks Tony Abbott should go one further and come up with his own routine. What would you like to see him do? And more’s the point, what do you think of politicians using these types of programs to sell themselves to the voters?
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Were you one of the 637,000 or so people who watched Hey Hey it’s Saturday this week? No? How about one of the 800,100 who watched it the week before?
If you were, then watch it while you can. It’s a primetime show that is taking up two hours worth of scheduling, and ranking 60th in the week’s rating list. A show can only haemorrhage viewers like that for so long.
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Darryl Sommers’ voice will forever remind me of the green tiles in my childhood bathroom and the smell of eye-shadow.
Because the last time I watched “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” I was as a 10 or 12 year old girl, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, watching my mum getting ready to go out with the television playing in the background.
Actually come to think of it even when my parents weren’t going out on a Saturday night we’d still watch the show.
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I don’t know how it happened. It could be higher levels of blue-rinse in the water. Maybe it’s a spike in the sales of model trains. Or a sudden surge in the demand for lamingtons. But 2009 is unofficially shaping up to be The Year Of The Wowser.
With almost German precision (if I am permitted to use nationality as the basis of my point), the chorus of shrill voices responding to controversy in comedy has been oscillating at a rock solid bi-weekly frequency in recent months.
While you have to admire the sheer energy these biddies have - you can’t grant them any real depth of understanding when it comes to the art form. (And yes. It is an art form.)
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Twenty years ago myself and five friends painted our faces black and performed the Jackson Jive skit on Hey Hey It’s Saturday to great acclaim.
Two nights ago we did exactly the same skit and we’ve been pilloried for it.
It’s no defence to say that we didn’t think it wouldn’t have caused offence, because we’re all grown men now, not uni students, and we should have known better.
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7.30pm That’s a wrap. The online polls from news.com.au and other sites today show decisively that most people didn’t find the Jackson Jive skit offensive. You can follow how the reaction unfolded in the post below.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think it should have aired. It was one of the most offensively racist things I’ve seen on television in years. But there wasn’t any malice in it. The doctors seem like good blokes. Going blackface was a mistake.
6.33pm: Blast from the past but he’s still around - Australia’s original blackface artist Louis Beers, also known as King Billy Cokebottle, is still around. His rather rudimentary website is here (may offend).
6.21pm Global report Associated Press has filed an extensive story from its Adelaide bureau. It zeros in on the fact that the performers were in blackface, explaining:
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Have we grown up as a nation at all in the past 20 years? There’s never been an event more perfectly designed to answer that question than last night’s Hey Hey it’s Saturday reunion special.
The Jackson Jive skit that sent Australian conversations into melt-down from about 10.30 last night is like a smelly time capsule that’s been opened up, in front of 2.6 million of us, and a guest no less.
And in case there was any doubt about it, the guest’s face immediately give away what a stinker it was. The Hey Hey reunion specials should now be put reburied for good.
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Update 11.30am: Click here for the latest reaction on this story from Australia and around the world.
Update 10.50pm: Daryl Somers just apologised to Harry Connick for the skit. Connick said if he’d known it was going to be on he would never have agreed to be a part of the show.
Harry Connick looked like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him tonight when as a judge on Red Faces on the Hey Hey it’s Saturday reunion he was confronted with a troop of black and white minstrels taking the piss out of the Jackson Five.
The American crooner, possibly sensing a backlash back home, gave the Jackson Jive act a big fat zero, and said if the show was on air in the US it would be off air again immediately, “Hey Hey No Show”.
The Jackson Jive, complete with cheap afro wigs and boot polished faces had been on Red Faces 20 years ago. The joke might have been funny then, but have things changed?
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