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Series / The Late Show (1992)

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Champagne sketch comedy!

The Late Show was an Australian Sketch Comedy show which ran on The ABC for two seasons of twenty episodes each, in 1992 and 1993.

The cast, all veterans of The D-Generation, included Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, Jason Stephens and Judith Lucy (who appeared briefly in season 1 before becoming a regular in season 2).

The Late Show provides examples of:

Announcer: SCHWARZENEGGER is one citizen who's been pushed too far!
  • Almost Famous Name: As a Running Gag in the second series, each episode ended with Tony announcing that Mick had booked a famous singer, only for Mick to admit that he had screwed up and booked a lesser celebrity with a vaguely similar name. Among others, Pete Smith performed "Dude Looks Like a Lady," Mike Whitney performed "I Will Always Love You" and Simon Townsend performed "Who Are You?". Exaggerated when Mick was supposed to book Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and ended up with Al Grassby, Leo "Lucky" Grills, Christopher "Nudge" Truswell and Gwen Plumb.
  • Amusing Injuries: Rob gets a few in the "Shitscared" sketches in which he plays an incompetent stuntman. Most of them are thanks to Mick's similar incompetence as a stunt coordinator.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: One of the guests in their "Guide to Dinner Parties" sketch is the person who feels compelled to top any story told by someone else. Tom, who is narrating the sketch, wonders what he would do if he was seated next a to woman who has just given birth:
    Woman: Giving birth is the most life-changing event I've ever experienced.
    Topper: Well, obviously you've never stood on the summit of Everest.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems: In the Dinner Party Conversation sketch, Vikki Blanche is the kind of guest who can't help but bring the mood down, mentioning a recent local attempted murder out of nowhere, as well as bringing up starving children in Somalia.
  • Bad Santa: Appears as part of a recurring sketch with Robert De Niro in various jobs before he became famous (eg, a waiter, a weatherman), all of which have him displaying a Hair-Trigger Temper when asked to do literally anything related to that job.
    De Niro (as Santa Claus): Is that what you want? What, I should just fly up the top of the world, get some little elves to make that stuff, bring it back? Is that what you want? Would that make you happy? Is that what I should do? Well (Sound-Effect Bleep) you kid!
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: In a sketch where Rob plays the then-recently elected Bill Clinton.
    Bill: I'd like to thank the woman who has been with me for the last ten years. I'd also like to thank Hillary.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humour: "Still Number 4", a song about the ABC's ratings compared to the other stations. It's a parody of the Nine Network's "Still the One" campaign.
  • Brief Accent Impersonation: In the dinner party sketch, one of the guests is the recently returned traveller, who had somehow picked up an English accent after only two weeks in London.
    Host: Weren't you also in New York?
    Recently Returned Traveller: (New York Accent) Ohmygawd! How long was I there for?
    Tom: About two hours in the flight lounge.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In one of the "Shitscared" sketches, Tom tells Rob that his planned stunt sounds dangerous. Rob replies, "I don't have the brown underpants on for nothing."
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: A parody trailer for David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ridge, which ends with Glen Ridge (then host of the Australian version of Sale of the Century) walking in and shaming everyone into cleaning up their language.
  • Crappy Carnival: The Pissweak World sketches. Highlights include the waterslide (a regular slide with someone pouring water from a bucket down it) and a Flying Fox (which is closer to the ground than the kid using it is tall). It doesn't help that their mascot appears to be Shirty.
  • Disappearing Box: In the sketch with Santo as a magician, he attempts a disappearing trick, which consists of Mick stepping him into the box and "disappearing" for less than a second before Santo pulls back the curtain and says "He's back!"
  • Drop the Cow: Poked fun at its own use of very thin premises for comedy with the phrase, "Champagne sketch comedy". Later, they would have show member Rob Sitch bring in a bottle of champagne to the actors in the middle of a sketch to let them know the joke was wearing thin.
  • Earpiece Conversation: A sketch has the team attempting to feed answers to Jane Kennedy during her appearance on the celebrity edition of Sale of the Century.
  • Gag Dub: Two recurring sketches, The Olden Days, based on the historical drama Rush (1974) in season 1, and Bargearse, based on the cop show Bluey (1976), in season 2. After the last episode of the former, they cut to Mick and Tony in the studio complaining about the show, saying that The Olden Days only worked because the original was so good. The joke is that they're being dubbed over by John Waters (1948) and Brendon Lunney from Rush, who then came out into the studio to great applause.
  • The Heckler: Tony and Mick's story about their first attempt at stand-up comedy (more like a vaudeville routine) ending with them being abused by the audience (Mick's mother threw the first bottle), leading them to track down the people responsible and heckle them back wherever they happen to be working. It includes going to the grave of someone who had died in the intervening time and throwing bottles at the (obviously polystyrene) headstone. But when they then try their routine again for the Late Show audience, they get the same result.
  • Heroic Dog: Parodied with the Charlie the Wonderdog sketches, whose main joke is that the dog is (while harmless) so badly trained he has to be pulled everywhere by his lead to make it appear as if he's doing anything.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    Santo Cilauro: "Now, I need to say that he's not actually my uncle. For us Italians, anyone who's allowed to take off his belt and hit you with it you have to call uncle."
  • Insane Proprietor: A regular segment showed low-budget local ads from around Australia and mocked the hell out them. Naturally this included a fair number of 'insane proprietor' ads. Some of these were so popular that the show made multiple returns to check out what the latest installment in the ads were.
  • Kids' Show Mascot Parody: "Shirty, the Slightly Aggressive Bear", who would inevitably get one of his Berserk Buttons pushed and fly off the handle.
  • Lost in Transmission: Tony Martin and Mick Molloy were discussing Thai porno movies, and the station kept having "transmission problems" just as they got to the "interesting" parts.
  • Namesake Gag: Graham and the Colonel bring up the story about the Earl of Sandwich ordering two pieces of bread with a piece of meat in between during a late-night card game. "Hence the name, 'midnight snack'."
  • No Animals Were Harmed: One of the Charlie the Wonderdog sketches ends by stating that no animals were hurt during the making of the program, "Although we belted some of the kids."
  • Opinion Override: In the "How to Host a Dinner Party" sketch, one of the obligatory guests is the annoyingly politically-correct guy. The sketch has him complaining about how sexist Basic Instinct was, to which one of the female guests responds that she quite enjoyed it.
  • Parody Assistance: The first seasonhad a recurring Gag Dub sketch called The Olden Days, based on Rush (1974). In the season final, the stars of Rush, Brendon Lunney and John Waters (1948), appeared in the studio for a brief scene where they dubbed over Tony Martin and Mick Molloy. Similarly, the second season had a Gag Dub sketch called Bargearse, based on the cop show Bluey (1976), whose star Lucky Grills appeared in the studio audience at one point to call them out on taking the piss out of him every week.
  • Parody Commercial: Plenty of them. There's a rather dark example when a video of the Rodney King beating suddenly turns into a painkiller commercial.
  • Pocket Protector: Referenced when Tony gets shot at with a Nerf arrow from the audience. "Lucky I had a small Nerf bible in my jacket pocket..."
  • Political Overcorrectness: In the dinner party sketch, Rob plays this kind of character, bringing up out of nowhere that he's not flying British Airways to London because they still fly to South Africa (this was of course during Apartheid). He also considers himself more of a feminist than anyone at the table, demonstrated when he goes on a rant about Basic Instinct. Tom then attributes this to this to him being an Australian Democrat, but Rob interrupts and claims to vote Independent instead.
  • Politician Guest-Star: A few appeared as part of an Almost Famous Name running gag. For example, former Victorian state premier Joan Kirner was "accidentally" hired by Mick instead of Joan Jett, singing "I Love Rock and Roll". She was accompanied by her Health Minister David White on the guitar. Another episode had former Immigration Minister Al Grassby booked instead of David Crosby (along with Lucky Grills, Christopher "Nudge" Truswell and Gwen Plumb.
  • Selective Stupidity: Some of Tony and Mick's vox pops segments, such as their attempt to find out how well people actually know the Australian national anthem.
  • Self-Deprecation: The dinner party sketch talks about how it's the host's job to apologise for everything (even if it has nothing to do with the party), while the guest is supposed to praise then in direct proportion to this. It also ends with a few suggestions for how to get the guests to leave as quickly as possible, the last of which is described as "foolproof":
    Jane: I know everyone, why don't we watch The Late Show?
  • Smoking Hot Sex: When Mick tells Tony a story about seeing an exotic dancer in Thailand, most of which is skipped over due to due to transmission difficulties, it ends with Tony, Mick and Tom smoking.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Parodied with an ad for an album of "Inappropriate Love Themes", featuring stock romantic footage to music such as "The March of the British Grenadiers", "Popcorn" and the theme from Please Sir!.
  • Stage Magician: One sketch as Santo as a performer who can supposedly send telepathic messages to another person. He tries to use Mick as a plant, but he's not very good at it, not least because he was already on the stage when he was supposed to be sitting in the audience. He also blows the routine, which consists of Mick standing there blindfolded while Santo tries to get him to identify things that he's borrowed from the audience with not very subtle clues: for example, he picks up a pen and asks "What have I got ink my hand?", or picks up a watch and asks "What have I got in my hand, this time?" Mick gets the first one right, but guesses "A Magazine!" the second. The third time it's a packet of cigarettes and Santo tries to get this across with a fake coughing fit. Mick guesses that it's a packet of butter menthols.
  • Stop Drowning and Stand Up: In one of the Charlie the Wonderdog sketches, one of the kids attempts to fake drowning (with a caption reading "Simulated drowning" onscreen), even though the water isn't even up to his waist. He still needs Charlie to pull him with a rope that mysteriously appeared around him, and the kids still needs Charlie to run for help.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Shirty the Slightly Aggressive Bear, a parody of characters like Humphrey B. Bear who would violently overreact to any kind of mockery from his co-stars. One episode reveals that the man in the suit is Hando from Romper Stomper.
  • Tongue Twister: Tony visits a shop called Stacks of Slax and asks an employee named Amanda why it's called that when the slacks are not in stacks but on racks. "Why don't you call the shop Racks of Slax? Or maybe Stacks of Slax on Racks? Or maybe Racks of Dacks in Stacks, possibly. Sounding a bit like a Dr. Seuss story, really."
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Financial Advice", used in reference to the photographs of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and John Bryan. The same justification is then used for the relationship between Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, before Mick then brings out a book called The Joy of Financial Advice by John Bryan.
  • War Is Hell: Parodied in a sketch about Vietnam veterans angsting about how coming home was the worst, due to things largely unrelated to the war such as their luggage going missing.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Tony's parody of the R.E.M. song "Stand", though his point is that it isn't much weirder than most of Michael Stipe's actual lyrics.
    "Stand on your head in the sink.
    Now face north.
    Say the Lord's Prayer while you force a strawberry Slurpee up your nose.
    Set you trousers on fire.
    Now face west.
    Move to Pakistan and teach a hundred yaks to speak French.
    I'm confused, I must confess.
    What this song means is anyone's guess.
    Your feet are walking all over the place.
    I must have written that when I was off my face."