Kath & Kim: articles

The Funny Side of Life

Ladies ploi-se, time out ladies!

The ABC continues to be a pioneer in producing high quality Australian comedy of all genres, from sketch and stand up to sitcoms and everything in between. The ABC has developed many hits over the years, like Mother and Son, Aunty Jack, the D-Generation, The Games and The Gillies Republic and, now back for its second series, Kath and Kim.

A warts and all view of suburbia, Kath and Kim gives Australians an opportunity to laugh at themselves. Reaching a record audience of over 1.6 million viewers for last season’s final episode, Kath and Kim is one of the most successful comedy series ABC TV has ever produced.

This month, Inside the ABC talks with Head of Drama and Narrative Comedy, Robyn Kershaw, exploring what has made Kath and Kim such a hit.

Was Kath and Kim destined to become a cult classic from the beginning? Robyn says there is no formula to selecting a comedic hit while still in script form however, ‘I believed that Kath and Kim had huge potential and could be a cult hit from the outset. I was very familiar with the characters that Gina (Riley) and Jane (Turner) had created from their work on Big Girls’ Blouse. It had the pedigree to be very successful and I think I shared the same vision as the creative artists and that’s important. I just think it’s exceptionally funny, it was that easy, we laughed at the same things.’

Comedy is important to how we view ourselves. It provides us with valuable insights and presents the less attractive side of our personalities in a way that is palatable. Robyn agrees this could be the answer to why Kath and Kim has such broad appeal. ‘Comedy has relevance anytime and in any society, it’s the way that we are able to reflect on the dark moments with optimism,’ she says.

As one ABC viewer wrote in to say, ‘Kath and Kim is the best comedy show in the history of comedy shows. Any show that makes the people watching it squeal with delight (and the horror of recognition…I just had a fling with a ‘Celtic harp player’ just a bit too similar to that fiddle-playin’ bush band guy), and applaud spontaneously – is a work of sublime genius.’

Robyn recognises that, ‘Kath and Kim is incredibly funny and that there are a number of reasons why audiences find it so funny. People can relate to the characters, it’s the kind of humour where you put your hand over your mouth and laugh because you recognise it.’

Robyn also suggests the fact that Kath and Kim has its own language is part of its appeal, but most of all it is the incredible characters that people respond to. ‘They (Kath and Kim) have aspirations, they are winners, they are dreamers and they succeed. I mean look at Kim, she has this extraordinarily fantastic belief in herself, she’s never going to fail, and Kath, well she just keeps improving herself and looking “noice”’.

It seems that Kath and Kim have no bounds and can compete on the overseas market, with new UK Channel Flextech FTN currently premiering Series 1 of Kath and Kim in primetime, while Canadian Alliance Atlantis channel Showcase DIVA are set to broadcast Series 1 and 2 exclusively starting this month.

Overseas viewers have embraced the comedy duo with enthusiasm. The UK’s Heat magazine recently gave Kath and Kim a five star review, describing the series as brilliant, ‘Now and again a great show springs out of nowhere: in this case being suburban Australia, where forty-something fitness freak Kath and her slob daughter Kim trade perfectly scripted gems of dumbness in this micro-budget sitcom.’

Robyn identifies why Kath and Kim has sold successfully to overseas audiences, both in the UK and the USA, ‘If you look at Seinfeld, it represents the downtown New York community. Ali G is particular to urban London and Kath and Kim brings to the screen the suburbs of Australia – even if we don’t know what it’s like to live in New York, we can still understand the humour of Seinfeld – and international audiences can understand the humour of Kath and Kim.’

Inside the ABC
Issue 16
September 18, 2003