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Series / The Chaser's War On Everything

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This will get you into the red zone at APEC.

"Being offended by The Chaser is like going to a strip club and being offended by the nudity."
Julian Morrow

The Chaser's War on Everything was an Australian half-hour comedy show produced and broadcast by the ABC (the Australian one) and hosted by comedians Andrew Hansen, Chris Taylor, Chas Licciardello, Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow, collectively referred to as The Chaser.note  The show has aired in many countries across the world, from Israel to the UK, Poland to South Korea.

The Chaser began as creators of a satirical newspaper, called The Chaser (not dissimilar to The Onion). After a slow start, sales skyrocketed when they published then Prime Minister John Howard's phone number. This got the attention of Australian interviewer and TV star Andrew Denton, who got them a spot on the ABC, Australia's government-funded network; the result was The Election Chaser, a short series covering the 2001 federal election and taking the piss out of everyone involved. They then went on to do the news parody show CNNNN (Chaser Non-stop News Network), mostly mocking CNN, Fox News and Australian current affairs. They followed this with more coverages of elections, a stage show, and then their most famous work: The Chaser's War on Everything.note 

The show was more relaxed than CNNN, extensively used parody and satire, and they didn't pull any punches either. The Seven Network and the Nine Network, both the 'big' commercial stations in Australia, were frequently poked fun at, particularly with regards to their dubious current affairs reporting. They also mock the ABC, which doesn't seem to mind them poking fun at or criticising material produced or transmitted by them. (This is probably because the ABC is entirely government-funded, so there are no sponsors to offend.)

The Chaser's stunts have gotten them into trouble a few times, culminating in an incident during the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) being held in Sydney in 2007: despite their expectations that the stunt would go no further than the outer boundary, their fake motorcade entered the Red Security Zone (the highest level security zone), despite having "JOKE" and "It's pretty obvious this isn't a real pass" stamped on their "passes", and with a person dressed as Osama bin Laden in one of the vehicles. Chas, Julian, and a number of the crew for the show got arrested. It was this prank alone that started international buzz and later a bidding war for American syndication, eventually won by G4TV in late 2008.

It returned to air in 2009, this time with only ten episodes. Only two episodes in, it caused controversy over a sketch about terminally ill children. This also led to questions about whether it has jumped the shark. In case you were wondering, it didn't; they even managed to handle their own shame in a funny (but in no way disrespectful to the victims) way. This turned out to be their last season, for several reasons - among them, they were getting too easily recognised by the public and so, couldn't pull fast ones on them. Instead, they had to fly all way to America and pull pranks there.

They spent 2010 touring Australia with The Age of Terror Variety Hour. They also covered the 2010 Australian election with their mini-series Yes We Canberra. This was the first time their election coverage was actually watched by anybody - the previous years it was held a week before the election was held, and the week after it was over. They covered the 2013 election with The Hamster Decides, a five-episode series which turned out to be just as popular as Yes We Canberra.

They planned to return to television in April 2011 to cover the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William - In their own words, it was to be "uninformed and unconstitutional" - but the BBC and the royal family put a stop to that a week before the wedding by amending the licencing terms of the wedding broadcast to prevent usage of the footage in comedy. No-one was amused.

In 2011, the Chaser team returned with their new show The Hamster Wheel, a (relatively) low-key version of The War with more of a focus on discussion of politics and modern media rather than attention-grabbing stunts like APEC. Following the conclusion of The Hamster Wheel's first (but not only) season, members of the Chaser have gotten involved in other projects across the ABC - Chas Licciardello is currently an anchor of Planet America, an ABC News 24 program discussing American politics, and most of its members sometimes sit on the panel of The Drum, ABC News 24's news analysis and debate program. In 2013, Craig and Julian went on to co-host The Checkout, a consumer affairs show which went on to become an unexpected hit, netting 1.2 million viewers an episode by the end of its run on the ABC (often beating out rival network Ten for the timeslot), with Chas on board as Producer and Script Editor.

Clips from The Chaser's War on Everything are extremely abundant on YouTube. The ABC has a policy of allowing its content to be freely available, and so is more than happy to leave them be. In addition, the Chaser has a YouTube channel, which in addition to exclusive content contains clips of a majority of the content of The Hamster Wheel.

Brief descriptions of the main guys:

  • Andrew Hansen: Does the musical bits; plays the Surprise Spruiker and the Crazy Warehouse Guy; covers the current affairs shows
  • Chas Licciardello: Does the insane things; covers the current affairs shows; shows his ass a lot
  • Chris Taylor: Does less insane things than Chas (or at least not as frequently); generally portrayed as a bit of a Casanova Wannabe as well as an elitist snob, and a lot of the sketches/stunts he does reflect this
  • Craig Reucassel: A little more normal; does many of the stunts that require a more respectable persona
  • Julian Morrow: Does a lot of the more political stuff; comes up with 'fixes' for things.

(For the Korean film which shares its name with the group, see The Chaser)

The Chaser's War on Everything and other works by the Chaser provide examples of:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Parodied with their Citizen's Infringement Notices.
  • Ax-Crazy: Chas borders on this at times.
  • B-Roll Rebus: Andrew and Chas mocked Today Tonight and A Current Affair's use of this
    Andrew: Very subtle techniques, though some would say, they're like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer. (Cue clip of Chas hitting Andrew over the head with a sledgehammer.)
    Chas: I don't know Andrew, I though it was more like, uh, having your teeth pulled out, scraping your fignernails down a chalkboard, tearing your hair out, and being hit by a truck. (Each line is accompanied by an appropriate shot.)
    Andrew: Actually, I don't know, I thought, it was a bit more like being patronized by a farcically inane television presenter.
    Naomi Robson: And that's one way of putting it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Current affairs shows Today Tonight and A Current Affair provided a seemingly ceaseless source of narmful and incorrect material to be satirised; when they dabbled in international stuff, Fox News was given the same treatment for the same reasons.
  • Candid Camera Prank: Lots of these.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Andrew in the final episode.
  • Channel Hop: Averted, despite many requests from commercial efforts. Yet we all know the Chaser could not be as good as it is if it was on a commercial network; its freedom comes from how the ABC doesn't have to answer to potentially offended corporate sponsors who may threaten to pull the plug on sponsorship. Also parodied in the series itself.
    • It was rerun on payTV network The Comedy Channel and male aimed digital channel 7mate, although both channels are known for rerunning shows that were previously aired on the ABC, but the first time for a topical, satirical Australian comedy show to be rerun several years after their initial airing.
  • Couch Gag: The 2007 opening credits.
  • Credits Gag: A Freeze-Frame Bonus always appeared just before the title screen in the opening credits.
  • Crossover Punchline: The cast once cameoed in Ryan Shelton's segment on Rove, to demonstrate what life would be like if there was no such thing as Politics.
    What are we going to talk about this week?
    Well, nothing. There's no such thing as politics. [1]
  • Crowd Song: The "If Life Were A Musical" segments, always done for real.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The whole group, but Andrew in particular. "They appear to be...on a porch."
  • Disco Dan: The Has-Beens.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Parodied with Danny Nalliah's apparent prophetic dreams about the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Chas attempts to make one side of his body look like Daniel Craig and gets a tattoo of a 'Japanese character' on his upper arm. He ends up with a tattoo of Hello Kitty.
  • Excuse Question: Parodied in a seqment about Phone-in Game Shows which rely on this to get people to call in. Case in point, "Who is the Prime Minister of Australia? A) Daffy Duck, B) Kermit the Frog, or C} John Howard?
    Julian: Which I guess leads to the question, "Who are these shows aimed at?" A) Bicycles, B) The Sydney Opera House, or C) Morons?'
  • Expospeak Gag: The "Detective Superintendent Clive Pugh" segments, exaggerating a police tendency to speak in a verbose and slightly non-committal manner. Parodied up to and including an immodest orgasm expressed this way.
  • Fan Disservice: All too often. Chas and Andrew once smeared manure all over each other. In the middle of Federation Square. While wearing BDSM outfits.
  • Football Hooligans: Parodied with one skit which involved selling balaclavas and (fake) knuckledusters in club colors to Canterbury Bulldogs fans. This resulted in Chas being arrested.
  • Fun with Acronyms
  • Gag Sub: The first season in 2006 did this a lot with videos of Osama Bin Laden. (Although when the team actually discussed Middle Eastern TV shows' portrayal of the USA (especially the ones aimed at children), the clips always had a prominent caption stating that the translation was 100% accurate.)
    • Returned in The Hamster Wheel with footage of Libyan protesters 'complaining' about Sonia Kruger replacing Kerri-Ann Kennelly on some morning television series. Released footage from what would've been their royal wedding coverage did the same thing with victims of the Tohoku earthquake and their eagerness for, well, the royal wedding.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The APEC stunt. The plan was to get a rise out of the first level of security, but they just kept getting waved through each cordon until they reached the venue itself. Not having a plan for that, they stepped out of their vehicles and stood around awkwardly until someone noticed them.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: Andrew has a different (and even more ridiculous) one every week.
  • Insane Proprietor: The Crazy Warehouse Guy.
  • Karmic Death: Chris in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. "Fittingly, he died of cancer.", in reference to the "Make A Realistic Wish" skit.
  • Kent Brockman News
  • Large Ham: All of them have their moments, but Chas in particular.
  • Lawful Stupid: The Citizen's Infringement Officer, full stop.
  • Megaphone Gag: "Open Mic" is a recurring segment in which one of them, usually Julian, makes bizarre and/or satirical unauthorized announcements with PA systems in businesses and public places.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Craig during the 2007 opening credits.
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: The Chaser attempted to demonstrate that it was possible to dump all kinds of junk in an art gallery without people noticing: tree clippings ("Lord of the Plants"), an old computer, a broken vacuum cleaner (unsucessfully), an old mattress (unsuccessfully, though one woman spent some time admiring it) and two garbage bags ("Fun Dip").
  • Mood Whiplash: Both averted and parodied.
  • News Parody
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Deconstructed - in song, no less - with "The Eulogy Song".
  • No Indoor Voice: The Crazy Warehouse Guy.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The Middle East TV segments carried the disclaimer "All translations independently verified by the ABC" to let people know it wasn't a Gag Sub.
  • Photoshop Filter of Evil: Averted and played straight.
  • Only in America
  • Operator from India: Parodied hilariously with the segment being "outsourced to India" with Indian cast members offering mango chutney to handing out Citizen's Infringment notices for bad turbans and the credits in Hindi accompanied by sitar music.
    • Also, Julian once called tech support in India and wound up flying there to get hands-on assistance with his mobile phone.
  • Oscar Bait: Parodied with a fake movie trailer with this title featured everything you expect to see in one of these movies.
  • Parody Commercial: Quite a few.
    • An especially memorable one is for a fictional car called the JI Extreme. The ultimate in car-bombing luxury.
  • Parodied Trope: Note how many examples here are parodies of the trope in question. They really like to do this.
  • Rattling Off Legal: Parodied. "I'd talk slower than this but my car is parked in a tow away zone."
  • Religion is Magic: Parodied with faith healers who push people over to make them better, and The Secret to get what you want.
  • Ridiculously Loud Commercial: Two words, the Surprise Spruiker.
    • Also parodied with the Crazy Warehouse Guy. If you've ever wondered what the announcers for those ads are like out of the studio, here's your answer.
  • Rule of Funny
  • Selective Stupidity: Possibly the best example being asking Americans about the 9/11 attacks and them getting pieces of information wrong that even an Aussie who doesn't watch much news knows. Particularly, getting the date wrong, which raises the question, what did these people think 9/11 was named for? The 9th of November?note 
  • Show Within a Show: These included:
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: A parody trailer for the Comedy Channel's "Fuck-a-thon" lambasted stand-up comics whose routines "solely involve dropping the F-bomb"
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Used in the Eulogy Song; while they probably could have gotten away with actual swearing, it might seem offensive. Also, using the sound effect only serves to make the song funnier.
  • Spooky Photographs
  • Strongly Worded Letter: A recurring character in the final season was an angry letter writer continually offended by the show. Ironically, the character debuted in the same episode as the "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation" sketch, but that wasn't the segment he was objecting to. note 
  • Take That!: Between A Current Affair, 60 Minutes and especially Today Tonight, The Chaser team copped a lot of flak. Their responses to said flak were of course satirical, and were better received by audiences compared to their Narm-powered critics' attempts to discredit them, which verged on Strawman Has a Point in some cases.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: APEC motorcade. Enough said.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: A parody trailer for Leni Riefenstahl's Housefrau Hitler. No, go on.
    • Also, a "What Have We Learned From History?" segment which involved the Chasers entering a Polish nightclub dressed as stereotypical Germans, then dressed as Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS troopers, and then Andrew Hansen entered while dressed as Hitler himself. Complete with swastika armband. He got in. note 
  • Trailer Spoof: Quite a few.
  • Trojan Horse: It's amazing how many places will let someone towing a giant wooden horse onto their premises without checking it.
  • Truth in Television: Many of their skits are actually set up but a handful are done for real. Everything they do is cleared by the ABC lawyers first though.
  • Understatement: When they take on the Westboro Baptist Church, which is notorious for its anti-gay views, they show a short clip of Fred Phelps, the church's leader, delivering an absolutely vicious and homophobic sermon (which happened three days after September 11th), before saying:
    "I don't know if you've picked up on the theme, but these guys are a little anti-gay."
  • Viewers Are Morons: Played straight and Lampshaded many times.
  • Wall Crawl: Andrew during the 2007 opening credits
  • Witty Banter
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Season 3 ended with a parody.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: After Chas was arrested for selling fake weapons outside a Canterbury Bulldogs game, he pointed out that this had been the top story on 2UE, followed by Hezbollah declaring war on Israel.