The Sideshow

So, it’s 2007.  We’ve made two long-running series back-to-back, GNW & The Glass House.  We’ve been talking about the news since ’96.  It’s time for a change.  It’s time for something different.  Paul McDermott has returned to the fold.  He & the boss Ted Robinson have a plan. Their relationship goes back to the 80s, to The Big Gig, for those of you old enough to remember.  What about something with the same energy & feel of that groundbreaking show, but instead of comedy, we feature cabaret, circus, burlesque; acts you never see on television?  There are all these extraordinary performers out there, but unless you’ve been inside the Spiegeltent, you wouldn’t have a clue who they were.  (And if you’ve never heard of the Spiegeltent, well, that’s my point.)

So, with a small amount of goodwill from the ABC still in our pocket, we assembled our regular cast.  First up, a young comedienne from Perth whose last show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival had  received rave reviews.  Her name?  Claire Hooper.  Next, two lots of brilliant blokes who made very different, but always beautiful noises: Tripod & the Umbilical Brothers.   Then, the boiled egg on stilts, the bald Cinderella, the matchstick with the moon tan: the man known as Flacco.  Finally, our house band, the Bearded Ladies, led by the maestro, Cameron Bruce.  Oh yes, my friends, Paul would be singing.  Quite often. Then it was time to throw all the ingredients into the hot dog mince & watch what came out.

So, alongside stand-up from Arj Barker & music from Sarah Blasko, you’d see the Space Cowboy hanging car batteries from his nipples & swallowing lit flourescent tubes.  Tim Minchin would follow burlesque from Imogen Kelly & La La Parlour, the Wau Wau Sisters on the flying trapeze & Circus Oz.  Penny & Kitty Flanagan would do a song about Britney flashing her special bits, the Threatening Bears would scare the children, Men In Tutus would pirouette past, the magician Matt Hollywood would levitate Paul, Dein Perry with the Tap Dogs & the Sandman would bring the house down, & it’d all finish with Tripod, the Bearded Ladies & just about everyone else joining Colin Hay to sing “Down Under”.

We often say that our shows should look like a party you wish you were at.   That’s exactly what we wanted The Sideshow to be.  It was unlike anything on Australian TV.  And that is never a bad thing.

For lots of clips and episode info check out the ABC Sideshow webpage still in existence.