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Review: Michael News Now at Melbourne Digital Fringe

Review by Thomas Gregory

What happens when a comedian who loves Dad jokes discovers he also has a moderate amount of skill as an editor and a spare green screen? You get Michael News Now. Created by Michael Lanzer, this series of short, self-referential videos was released as part of the Melbourne Digital Fringe Festival and is available for anyone to watch right now. At a perfectly paced five minutes each, there really isn’t an excuse not to.

Australia has a great history with satirical news media, but Michael Lanzer has produced something far different than any Frontline, SkitHouse or CNNNN segment you may have seen in the past. It is only interested in reporting on a single topic - Michael Lanzer. Featuring a range of characters (all played by Lanzer), the show reports on the man’s dating life, digs up old footage of him as a child, and is even willing to make up stories in order to self-sabotage what little reputation he may have had.

Unlike many “in-joke” comedies in which the star makes it all about themselves, you don’t actually need to know anything about Lanzer and walk away not knowing any more - because this isn’t a show about identity as much as it is about absurdity. While there are many short segments that many of us will find relatable, they are almost universally recognised moments like tripping up stairs or worrying about parking tickets.

The jokes are offered under the shotgun theory of comedy - tell enough of them, and the audience will find some funny. As a fellow lover of bad puns, this left me laughing through the entire three-episode run, while other audiences may end up grimacing too much to realise they would enjoy “that one line” in a different context.

Even if individual lines aren’t to their flavour, everyone should enjoy how well Lanzer has captured the ridiculous nature of the nightly news. From face-to-face interviews to “on the street” reporting and turning to “the whether”, Lanzer makes sure to capture all the terrible tropes that have been the staple of Australian news since well before the nineties. While any serious politics is avoided, the show cannot help but comment on how easy it is for news media to control the narrative, how invasive it can become for those it reports on, and how easy it is to laugh at those both on and off the camera.

Michael News Now isn’t highly polished and, yes, not all the jokes will be remembered as gold-medal worthy, but I think Mike Moore would be proud to come out of retirement if a co-anchor position was available. If you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of these clever little clips, I’d also recommend checking out his twelve-year-old show “Late Night Tonight”, which is still available on his site.

Image Supplied


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