Pitch perfect: Which TV show would you like to see made?

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We asked six comedians to put on their best director hats (some took the brief literally) and pitch us a television show. From cooking chaos and lawn bowls turf wars to pub dreams come true – we’ll be taking these straight to the big dogs at Nine.

The directors (left to right): Funeet Kaur, Becky Lucas, Cameron James; Alex Ward, Rhys Nicholson, Lizzy Hoo.Credit:James Brickwood and Simon Schluter

Alex Ward

If you’ve ever switched on SBS, you’ll be familiar with Adam Liaw. I’m not sure it’s possible to have a residency on a TV channel but if it is, that’s what Adam has. I swear he is 90 per cent of their programming, which is great: I love the guy. I often catch The Cook Up with Adam Liaw. It’s not hard to catch as it plays about 15 times a day.

Adam invites celebrities and chefs and celebrity chefs into his kitchen to cook a dish that is dear to them. The problem I have with this show is they always nail these recipes. The people chosen for this show are clearly good cooks. They are already beloved celebrities, and now they get credit for being able to cook as well?! I’m sick of celebrity idolising, which is why I’m creating the show Cooked It With Alex Ward.

The premise is that I host a show just like The Cook Up, only I invite guest celebrities who admit they cannot cook at all. I then ask them to make something well beyond their abilities, and we watch them sweat.

Forget Adam Liaw. Would you tune in for Cooked It with Alex Ward?

Picture this: Cate Blanchett sits at the end of the counter nervously bouncing her knee awaiting my recipe (note, you’ll also have to picture a world where I and SBS have the budget to get Cate). I hand her a note that says, “Hollandaise sauce”. Cate sighs with relief, “Just a sauce, phew”. HAHA, fool! She knows nothing about cooking clearly. We then spend the next 20 minutes watching Cate struggle to get a hollandaise to emulsify.

She’s screaming with frustration, “Why won’t you join?” Eventually, she throws the bowl at the wall and crumbles to the floor. “What even is this sauce? It’s egg sauce for eggs! That’s like chicken sauce for chicken. Yuck!” Cate cooking was her most challenging role yet.

Alex Ward’s show Saving For A Jetpack is at the Enmore Theatre from May 11-14.

Becky Lucas

I was thinking about the Make-A-Wish Foundation (a charity that helps to make wishes come true for children with critical and life-threatening illnesses) and how those stories really make you pause and reflect on the challenges so many families go through every day. It really tugs at the heartstrings … which is very important when it comes to making TV.

Now I wouldn’t want to be so exploitative as to use these kids’ stories to jerk the tears from the Australian public – no, absolutely not. But I have another idea: Make-A-Wish for old people you meet down at the pub. The forgotten souls who no one thinks about anymore but who are dealing with an anus on the cusp of prolapse and glaucoma the size of Tasmania. Of course, we all care about the sick kids but what about the people who’ve gone through life drinking three schooners of beer every afternoon quietly accepting that their dreams probably aren’t going to come true? And what are their dreams? Who knows?! The sky’s the limit! The crazier, the better!

Becky Lucas is backing a show where old people at the pub have their dreams come true.

Most kids have dreams that centre around Disney princesses or Marvel superheroes, but imagine the dreams of a man who has spent his entire life laying concrete slabs and pushing down his emotions? It’s a very exciting thought. I once met an old woman who told me her greatest wish was to bury her real estate agent in a pit full of fire ants. That’s TV gold! But they won’t all be like that. For example, my grandpa dreamed of growing the biggest pawpaw in Queensland. Balance is always good. What do you think? Because if this pitch goes down well with you, we might be looking at the next highest-rating television juggernauts in Australia. Make sure you tune in!

Becky Lucas’ show Staring Into Space is at the Comedy Store from April 20-23.

Cameron James

I think Australia has a great history of TV shows, and I’ve been lucky to write for a bunch of them and be involved in some cool upcoming shows as a comedian and actor.

Having said that, I think Australian TV peaked in 2003 with the first season of Australian Idol. Specifically, the audition rounds of that show, where every episode for the first four weeks was Dicko, Marcia and Mark travelling around the country listening to hours and hours of bad singer after bad singer and slowly losing their minds. It was less a reality show about singing and more of a cruel and unusual torture for these three judges who would crack, become delirious and eventually unleash all their frustrations out on whichever local oddball came in to sing Fallin’ by Alicia Keys for the 150th time that day.

Cameron James is backing a show where the OG Australian idol judges have to judge every local talent show for a year.

I honestly think a great show idea would be to reunite those three judges and force them to judge every local talent show around Australia over the course of a year, just to watch them go crazy again. Seeing Dicko judging CWA scones in rural Australia, and Marcia crying at a woodchopping competition, and Mark Holden giving out “touchdowns” to Year 10 drama students would be the best TV I can imagine.

Also, if we’re reviving old shows, bring back Gladiators. I know we have Ninja Warrior and similar stuff, but there was nothing like watching a PE teacher from Gosford called Darren getting his ass kicked by Vulcan and Flame on the Gauntlet.

But honestly? I think Anne Edmonds should be given the keys to the TV kingdom and allowed to do whatever she wants. She’s the funniest character comedian this country has seen in the past 20 years, and if it was 2001, she’d be playing 12 different characters in her own Summer Heights High-type show. Maybe with less blackface, though.

I’d watch a Mel Buttle-hosted travel and food show. Kind of like Getaway, but instead of Catriona Rowntree or any of the 30 Daddos, it’s just Mel in different resorts bitching about the thread count in her room and hitting on the chefs.

Also, Becky Lucas and I have been trying to get a sitcom made for a little while about our experiences working as performers in theatre restaurants in the 2010s. So if any producers are reading this and want to talk, hit us up.

Cameron James’ show Electric Dreams is at the Factory Theatre on May 6.

Guneet Kaur

I’m not usually a fan of reality TV, but my dream show would be a reality show called Medium Heat. We would turn the heat up on cold cases by trying to solve them. The catch? There are no detectives – the team assigned to uncover crimes has no investigative skills or experience. Instead, they are psychic mediums who must use their psychic abilities to try to solve cold cases.

Guneet Kaur’s Medium Heat would put clairvoyants to the test.

I don’t particularly believe in psychics or the paranormal (though I’ll admit I like to check my horoscope but show me a woman in her mid-20s that doesn’t). Still, I love the idea of a psychic fumbling around trying to solve a murder case via seance. A detective that genuinely believes they can communicate with ghosts may not be the best one to solve the case, but they’ll probably be the funniest. Plus it’d be impressive to see someone piece together mysteries via tarot card or crystal ball.

Is this show a cynical dig at mysticism? Sure, but I think it’s fair to say the average “psychic” is most likely taking advantage of the gullible, the hopeful or the bereaved. So there’s a great deal of cathartic pleasure in seeing con artists flounder around trying to solve crimes to no avail. And if I’m wrong, that’s great too – maybe they’ll solve a murder. Is it ethically sound to make a show intended to ridicule psychics? Maybe not, but any medium worth their salt should see it coming.

Guneet Kaur’s show Manic Pixie Dream Goblin is at the Enmore Theatre on May 18 and 19.

Lizzy Hoo

I have a few ideas. Any producers out there … call me. We love a reboot in Australia because there’s a lack of talent who can’t come up with original ideas (JOKE!) so we just roll out a different version of whatever we did 20 years ago hoping nostalgia courses through our thinning veins.

Lizzy Hoo’s Paw and Order is about a hot shot lawyer who follows her dream to open the best dog hotel in town.

“Remember when we used to gather around the box and watch our favourite shows altogether?” Neighbours was only in the bin for a few months and we dusted it off, found it a new home, begging its fans for forgiveness: “We’re so sorry – we’ll never take Toadie away from you again!”

Why don’t we do a modern version of A Country Practice* – maybe I can play the doctor or the wombat. Let’s make it a fair reflection of regional Australia – staff shortages, bad wifi and overcrowding from inner-city folk looking for a tree change.

*Sub A Country Practice with All Saints, The Secret Life of Us, All Together Now and Sea Change … oh no, lemme check … we already did that one.

Or perhaps a Succession-style show set at a lawn bowls club. I’m uncertain if you’ve ever hung out at a lawn bowls club, but it’s a very funny place to be. The show will follow a group of younger members who try to take down the old guard. I encourage you to hang out at your local bowls club just once. Some of the best comedy I’ve ever seen.

But I think this is my best idea, though. It’s called Paw and Order. Hear me out. It’s about a hot shot, big-city lawyer who is done with her corporate life and follows her dream, which is to open the best dog hotel in town. Stay with me. Her two worlds collide in the most unthinkable ways. She’s got a big case and big dreams: which one will prevail. I’ll play the weird cleaner working at the dockyard at the start of the episode when the cop says “hey, you seen a dog around here?” and I’ll say “yeah, big shoulders? Heart of gold and a dark past?… He went that way.”

Lizzy Hoo’s show Woo Hoo! is at the Factory Theatre from May 10-15.

Rhys Nicholson

Well, it seems the only way to get anything made with a budget on TV these days is if it’s a reality show. Hey, I don’t mind a reality show. But only the talent-based ones. Idol, Drag Race, Australia’s Got Talent. I love seeing some random with a sob story being plucked out of obscurity to become a household name and then gaffer-taped to a terrible record contract. I don’t like the celebrity ones at all, really. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not above doing them. Lord no. If you’re a producer, call me.

Would you tune in for Rhys Nicholson Fights A Bear While All Their Exes Watch?

I’d go on a show called Rhys Nicholson Fights A Bear While All Their Exes Watch for the right price. Watching those shows can sometimes just feel like the worst of us. We relish seeing a retired pro athlete and some ageing actor who have worked all their lives end up on national TV doing a rhumba or eating fried pig’s anus. No, thanks. If I wanted to watch a pack of neurotic creatures fight it out for food only to be eliminated one by one, I’d hide a couple of packs of aspirin in a loaf of bread and head down the duck pond.

I work a lot at the ABC and every time I do something on air, I have the joy of reading hundreds of comments from faceless avatars complaining that their taxpayers dollars are being wasted. So here’s the idea for my dream TV show: we track them all down and let them have a whack at running the national broadcaster. See how they like it.

They get a full week to program whatever they want and on Sunday evening the public votes on whether they like it. If it’s a no, Ita Buttrose shoots them off into the sky on a catapult. If it’s a yes … it will never be a yes. It’s always the catapult. I’m also willing to take meetings for Rhys Nicholson Fights A Bear While All Their Exes Watch if anyone’s interested.

Rhys Nicholson’s show Rhys! Rhys! Rhys! is at the Enmore Theatre on April 25.

The Sydney Comedy Festival runs from April 24 to May 21.

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