Get Krack!n review – Katering Show Kates face-plant uproariously into milieu of breakfast TV

Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan walk the line between lighthearted mockery and gallows humour in eye-wateringly funny morning show satire

Not long ago, most of us had never heard of Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney; now we can barely imagine Australian comedy without them. The two Kates are best known as the blunderbuss hosts of the guffaw-making faux cooking program The Katering Show, in which they mock assemble a range of dodgy dishes – from paleo bone-water to placenta-based lasagne (plasagne).

Now, McLennan and McCartney ditch the orange aprons and expand to a full-length, half hour TV format in the uproariously entertaining Get Krack!n, face-planting into the milieu of early morning breakfast television programs.

In this case, really early morning. The titular show-within-a-show kicks off at 3am, an hour usually reserved – as McLennan puts it – “for pissing with your eyes closed”.

Good comedy is difficult to learn and harder to teach: sometimes it’s simply a matter of opening a door in an awkward way, as the two butterfingered hosts do very well when they step onto their Ikea showroom-looking set.

They address the cameras – McLennan with a Cheshire grin, McCartney a half-arsed smirk – to explain that the following 30 minutes will take them out of the kitchen and into other areas of the house. Because “we don’t just not know about food, we not know about everything”.

The core joke runs twofold: 1) that they not know how to host a breakfast TV program, and 2) that it is unreasonably early, meaning everybody is prone to make mistakes or at least be off their A-game. This manifests in various ways – from the hosts’ frazzled, capricious behaviour, to the many typos that appear in captions and a news ticker at the bottom of the screen. An early sketch has McLennan and McCartney working familiar material, preparing to slow cook the “dude food” that is pulled pork.

The satire arrives in full swing in the second half of episode one (the first two form the extent of this review) when the Kates begin taking potshots at the wellness industry – a subject recently unpacked in a new book from the Guardian’s own Brigid Delaney. When resident “health krackspert” Dr Mariam Margoylesles (played note-perfectly by Candy Bowers) arrives on the couch to explain, with accompanying “verified medical footage”, how turmeric can cure depression, cancer, autism and in fact every ailment known to humankind, I was laughing so hard my eyes started watering.

Get Krack!n
Kate McLennan, Kate McCartney and Candy Bowers as Dr Mariam Margoylesles in Get Krack!n. Photograph: ABC TV

Get Krack!n retools some of the editing and aesthetic techniques deployed in The Katering Show. A sudden, unexpected cut, for example, abandons a person mid-sentence, their mouth presumably still moving somewhere off-frame. This is how Katering’s ethical eating episode began, and how the first episode of Krack!n (involving an amusing cameo from Sam Neill) concludes.

There are regular swipes at the patriarchy, and sarcasm-steeped unpacking of male abuse culture. In a beyond-gallows-humour segment in episode two, a newsreader rattles off the day’s headlines: “In the news, a woman was shot in the face by a man. Another woman was killed by a man. In other news, a woman has been murdered. A woman has been stabbed. A woman has been thrown off a bridge whilst being stabbed.”

The revolving-guests nature of breakfast TV means any type of character can be airdropped in at any time – thus endless potential for sudden lurches in tempo, from outrageous physical comedy to pointy, caustic humour. In one sketch, an Asian beauty expert opens up to the two Kates about her deep-seated insecurities, “borne of funny insults like ‘wake up Jeff!’”

Get Krack!n
Get Krack!n includes regular swipes at the patriarchy, and sarcasm-steeped unpacking of male abuse culture. Photograph: ABC TV

Working this kind of laugh-as-your-stomach-turns comedy is dangerous turf for anybody, but the two Kates pull it off marvellously: flippant delivery with a burning aftertaste. Credit also to the director Hayden Guppy, taking a major step up from his previous outing – last year’s sapless milk-and-water sex-ed doco, Luke Warm Sex.

Get Krack!n is a show of – and for – the times. Even the smallest casting decisions (including live crosses lasting only a few seconds) have been surveyed through the lens of diversity and cast accordingly, though not necessarily predictably. Thus the appearance of A.B. Original’s Adam Briggs as the supposed “weather girl”.

There’s also the style of the women themselves: a cosmopolitan, middle-class, feminist shtick, without the flaky hucksterism of a Kath & Kim or the class-oriented burlesque. They constantly mock privilege, with a clear understanding that they’re pissing from inside the tent.

The new series also has currency in this era of budget cuts at Aunty, and conversation around content quotas for local programming in the age of streaming service providers. The intimation being that if cards aren’t played in the right way, on either of these fronts, we may get more and more content that means less and less – like Get Krack!n.

The show within the show, that is – not McLennan and McCartney’s hysterically funny new series. As far as that is concerned: more, please. A thousand times more.

Get Krack!n is on ABC TV on Wednesday nights at 9.30pm and on available to stream on iView


Luke Buckmaster

The GuardianTramp

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