I'll rip yer bloody arms off...
January 30, 2003 5:02 AM   Subscribe

The greatest TV show you will probably never see: Aunty Jack, a ten-foot tall, boxing-glove wearing, motor-cycling, moustached cross-dresser, was the star of The Aunty Jack Show, which ran for thirteen episodes in 1972-73 on the Australian Broadcasting Commission TV network (and was the first show broadcast on Australian TV in colour). Many of the original episodes have been lost (but records of them exist). Re-release on video or DVD of the remaining episodes is tangled up in copyright issues. The 1974 album Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong was re-released on CD, and still seems to be available. It includes such classics as 'Fish Milkshakes' and 'Teenage Butcher' and the song 'Farewell Aunty Jack', which was a number 1 hit in Australia. Some samples can be found here. There were spinoffs from Aunty Jack, most notably the Norman Gunston Show, with Norman playing the prototypical terrrible interviewer and inspiring the much later Ali G, Dennis Pennis and many others. I was two years old when the series aired: Aunty Jack's threat at the end of each episode, that: 'If you don't watch next week, I'll rip your bloody arm off!' meant that I never, ever, missed it.
posted by chrisgregory (33 comments total)
Damn, wish I could see it...
posted by PigAlien at 6:04 AM on January 30, 2003

great post. thanks.
posted by fishfucker at 6:10 AM on January 30, 2003

Ah yes, Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong - with the classic version of "I've Been Everywhere" with the refrain "I've been to Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong, Dapto*—andddd Wollongong".

*Outer suburb of Wollongong.

Shame about the DVD copyright hassles. But then the ABC still hasn't released Frontline or Micallef on DVD, either, and they're only a few years old - what's a suffering expat to do?
posted by rory at 6:11 AM on January 30, 2003

(Which I now see is excerpted on one of the pages chrisgregory linked to.)
posted by rory at 6:16 AM on January 30, 2003

Further proof that there's a great unexported treasure trove of Australian comedy. Here in the states what we know seems to begin and end with Dame Edna (and that's really only because Barry got her some UK TV work).

Oh, and the Trio network tried to fool us into thinking The Secret Life of Us was funny. Didn't take.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:52 AM on January 30, 2003

Beautiful stuff. I still remember the Buddhist skit with Rory (hmm) O'Donoghue at the Sydney Conservatorium - "Don't move, you'll kill an ant!" absolutely feral Beckett.

And how about Kev the Organic Butcher?

Just don't mention Kimbies.
posted by emf at 6:59 AM on January 30, 2003

I'm listening to the Aunty Jack CD right now. 'Farewell Aunty Jack' is such a beautiful song...
My copy is autographed by both Grahame Bond and Rory O'Donoghue. I've met a lot of famous people along the way, two Prime Ministers, been invited to a third's wedding, had lunch with Mel Gibson...never felt in the least bit nervous or intimidated. I can number among my friends Al Grassby, John Clarke and Simon Townshend (which will only mean something to Australian readers).
But when I met Grahame Bond, who played Aunty Jack, I was a gibbering, sweating idiot. I'd had a story published in an anthology that referred to my childhood memories of Aunty Jack, which I gave to him...
The whole story is that the ABC owns the show, but Grahame owns the music. And he won't let the shows get released on video/DVD unless the ABC finds the episodes they claim are missing/destroyed.
And one of the musicians on the show went on to develop the first sampling synthesizer for Fairlight (I couldn't find any online reference).
And a great one-liner from Kev Kavanagh: If God had wanted us to be vegetarians, he wouldn't have invented butchers!
See you round like a rissole!
posted by chrisgregory at 7:02 AM on January 30, 2003


*shrugs, closes door gently on the way out*
posted by luser at 7:27 AM on January 30, 2003

For fans of Dame Edna, see Tony Moore's essay about the second Bazza McKenzie film here. That Bruce Beresford went from Barry McKenzie Holds His Own to Driving Miss Daisy is unbelievable. BM Holds His Own is almost lost now (I think there's four later Oscar winners who were involved in the making). Barry Humphries was pretty cutting edge, once upon a time...
John Clarke is another absolute legend. A good John Clarke site to start with is here. He wrote and starred in a series about the Olympic Games in Sydney, a behind-the-scenes sort of thing. In one episode, the games organisers decided that they needed to downplay the international condemnation of the treatment of Australia's aboriginal population, so they hire John Howard the actor (his real name) to pretend to be John Howard the Australian Prime Minister, and deliver a heartbreaking apology to our indigenous population, the like fo which we are still waiting for the real Prime Minister to issue. It was probably the most inspired moment of Australian television to ever hit the screeens: a transcript can be read here. Reading it again now is painful to me. And that any sort of apology has still not been made by the real John Howard (although he has enthuiastically committed us to the war against Saddam) is a source of great shame to me.
posted by chrisgregory at 7:27 AM on January 30, 2003

US hamburger patty = Australian rissole. Although a rissole does tend to be a great big fat thing, probably an inch high and two inches in diameter.
When I was a kid, I would go out and shoot then bleed a kangaroo, which we'd get the butcher to subsequently grind up into mince. We'd then mix it up, half and half, with beef mince, and form it into patties which we'd barbecue.
Kangaroo was always considered inferior meat, something only the poor would eat regularly: mostly it was used for pet food. It's tough and gamey.
But the wastefullness of regular (and necessary) kangaroo culls made people look for uses for the meat. Now it's an export and considered a delicacy some places. Myself, I don't care for it much.
posted by chrisgregory at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2003

I usually explain the rissole to my fellow USericans as "a single-serving meatloaf."
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 AM on January 30, 2003

There is some really funny stuff on Aussie TV at the moment. During our visit last year Life Support had us in stitches. Kath and Kim is also very good in a down to earth Royle Family kind of way.
posted by viama at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2003

Rory (hmm)

You're right to wonder, emf - my brother's name is Grahame. But we're a few years too old for it to be more than coincidence.

My family used to make rissoles out of leftover lamb roast. They also contain bread and onion and other non-hamburger-patty ingredients. Eh eh!
posted by rory at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2003

Why does every conversation I initiate devolve into the discussion of meat?
posted by chrisgregory at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2003

For fans of Dame Edna, see Tony Moore's essay about the second Bazza McKenzie film here.

See, I almost wish I hadn't read that. Until now I thought all I was missing was Les Patterson Saves the World. Now I know better. At least in this case it looks like you lot are in the same boat. Off to read the John Clarke link and get even more frustrated...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2003

I think self-promotion is okay in the comments section: I had a story about mock chicken reproduced in an anthology of Australian food writing a little while ago. The story explains it all.
Another great Australian delicacy is the pie floater.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:30 AM on January 30, 2003

And for anyone who doesn't live in the US, or who does live on the American continent and is feeling masochistic, check out the Mambo website. Remember the shirts worn in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics? They were designed by Reg Mombassa, guitarist for Mental As Anything and one of the Mambo crew.
Their clothing and books and other products are available pretty much everywhere, except for the American content. Whether this is accidental or intentional, I'm not sure...
They make bloody lovely shirts.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2003

Woops, bad link. Mambo can be found here.
posted by chrisgregory at 8:58 AM on January 30, 2003

"Another great Australian delicacy is the pie floater"
I saw a picture and description of this (including how to eat it) on Fark a couple weeks ago and had to try it. It was really enjoyable! (apologies for being OT)
posted by effer27 at 9:03 AM on January 30, 2003

(apologies for being OT)

The subject appears to be Australian comedy. Few things are funnier than Australian food (or "food" in the case of things like vegemite). Therefore, I deem you on topic.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2003

Few things are funnier than Australian food, you say? Who was responsible for Cheez Wizz? Or Cheez Doodles? Or Cheez Heads? Or Cheezy Poofs?
Australians did invent the wine cask (aka 'Chateau Cardboard'). You know what I mean, wine in a box. What's it called elsewhere?
posted by chrisgregory at 9:20 AM on January 30, 2003

What's it called elsewhere?

You've pretty much got it. Boxwine sometimes, and "the perfect accompaniment to government cheese". But we keep the really hilarious stuff to ourselves. Or have we exported Ripple and I missed it?

And need I remind you that "a lot of people...pooh pooh Australian table wines"?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:25 AM on January 30, 2003

Ahh...the good old days. Australian wine was a joke not so long ago. That it's become so popular internationally still amazes me (and I grew up just outside the Coonawarra wine-growing region). We've always been a nation of beer drinkers (average alcohol content is about five percent: US standard beer is our equivalent of light beer). The Australian word for wine is 'plonk', and has generally negative connotations (ie all the beer has run out, so we're stuck drinking plonk, which is a hardship).
posted by chrisgregory at 9:34 AM on January 30, 2003

I thought he/she said,

and if you don't sing along, I'll rip your bloody arms off!

posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2003

John Clarke is a New Zealander, mate. We only let you keep him because with John Howard about, you clearly need him more than we do.

He actually started off here, where he was most famous for creating Fred Dagg.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:13 AM on January 30, 2003

'Goodbye me little luvlies...and remember, you'd better tune in next week to the show, because if you don't I'll come around to your house and I'll rip your bloody arms off. And I will too. Don't forget it.'

That's the full quote.
posted by chrisgregory at 10:24 AM on January 30, 2003

John Clarke's family was from Australia. From the state of Victoria in particular, and they had lived there for several generations. He lives just down the road from me now. He showed me the maps of Victoria he'd bought on eBay, to use for a family history he was writing. I'm pretty sure that he thinks of himself as an Australian, or more particularly as a Melburnian, but I'd have to ask him.
posted by chrisgregory at 10:33 AM on January 30, 2003


Ah well, tell him we miss him, and are keeping some politicians around specially for when he's finished with your lot.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2003

I don't think that New Zealanders have anything to complain about, politician-wise, relatively. You're not sending your kids off to die in an decidedly unpopular war. But Australia is, and not for the first time...
While none of us will probably ever hear the real John Howard apologise for the treatment of Australia's indigenous population, I will never forget John Clarke telling me over coffee that 'John Howard is a fucking cunt.'
Sorry for the strong language.
posted by chrisgregory at 11:41 AM on January 30, 2003

That's a bit much in front of the ladies!
What ladies?
The bloody stripper!

Playing my old cassette of "Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong".

And that's not a rissole. A rissole is mince meat combined with (cooked) onion and fried.
posted by emf at 3:47 PM on January 30, 2003

I'm often stunned by some of the things I see on this site, but I never expected Aunty Jack to turn up here. I remember Grahame Bond's mid-1980s series News-Free Zone, which provided my first exposure to Aunty Jack... I'd love nothing more than to see the actual series but that seems damned unlikely now.
posted by H.B. Death at 3:09 AM on January 31, 2003

Best... MeFi thread... evah!

Ahh, News-Free Zone. Kev Kevanagh. "Eh-Eh!".
posted by GrahamVM at 6:29 AM on January 31, 2003

When I was a kid, I made my own Kev Kevanagh badges and wore them with aplomb.

posted by hot soup girl at 4:18 AM on February 2, 2003

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