Friday, 27 November 2009

Shaun Micallef’s His Generation (As Proper A Review As We Are Capable.) (Of.)

Stealing an image directly from The Vine’s interview with Shaun Micallef to use at the start of this review probably wouldn’t be legal, would it? But what if we took a screenshot of part of The Vine’s website that happened to have a photo of Shaun Micallef on it? Surely that would just be classified as coincidental, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? We’re pretty sure it would. (“Taxi!” – BrokenTV’s Legal Dept)


Well, we’ve been listening to My Generation, the debut album from one-man comedy renaissance Shaun Micallef, and guess what? It’s really good. As we’ve mentioned, it’s more of a traditional comedy album, taking in specially-written sketches and songs, as opposed to being Just Comedy Songs or Just Live Stand-Up, like other comedians would put out. Here’s a track by track breakdown, containing mild spoilers because copying out lines from the album is much easier than us coming up with ‘opinions’ and ‘being interesting’.


Track One/Two: A Welcome / I Remember You

An introduction to the album, followed by a rendition of the Frank Ifield classic. The cover begins as a fairly straight version of the song, before trailing off into silly voices while the backing singers (well, a multi-tracked Susie Ahern) continue stoically with the ‘proper’ version. Interestingly (well, or inconsequentially, depending on whether you’re us or not) it’s a completely different take of the song than that lip-synced by Shaun on the Rove clip we linked to yesterday.

It’s A Bit Like: Vic Reeves, circa Big Night Out

Track Three: Treading The Boards

An second-division English thesp looks back over the career of himself and his top showbiz chums. The first outing on the disc for some of the splendid wordplay we’ve come to associate with Mr Micallef, which is always more than welcome. Plus, any comedy album released in 2009 that uses Kenneth Tynan as a reference is a welcome thing in our book, and not just because already knowing who Kenneth Tynan is makes us feel a bit superior for about three seconds (although after that our feeling of superiority is outweighed by our default setting of ‘self-loathing’, meaning the equilibrium is restored, not least because we’ve just realised we’re the sort of twats who’d use a word like ‘equilibrium’. But hey, this isn’t about us).

“O! If his mouth could talk, the stories it could tell…”

It’s A Bit Like: Peter Cook

Track Four/Five: An Announcement/Christopher Walken Sings David Bowie

Shaun does Bowie’s ‘Fashion’, in the voice of Chris Walken. Brief enough to avoid outstaying its welcome. Previously used as a gag on Micallef Tonight, of course.

Track Six/Seven: Women/Things That You Can Do

A postmodernly faux-sexist ditty about female heads of state around the world (including, as you might expect, multiple references to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko), followed about a harpsichord-backed tune from the 1950s about “The Things An Australian Wife Can Do”, performed in the style of Noel Coward. More delightful wordplay on offer, which works much more impressively when listened to, than when merely transcribed on the internet by idiots like us. But still:

“Clever things that you can do-oo / Clever things that you can do-oo / Just keep the lino polished /  your cares will be abolished / you’ll wonder where the daylight hours flew.”

It’s A Bit Like: Spitting Image, then Noel Coward

Track Eight/Nine: An Interview/Accident Medley

In a piece that could have been written then deemed not quite suitable for Newstopia, Shaun meets Neil Brady (played by Shaun), a schoolteacher who has written a heartfelt medley about the Death Of Princess Diana, and other tragedies.

”Oh, they chased her down a tunnel, but she couldn’t get away / if only they had dared to stop and think / But they went snap! Snap! Snap! The crazy pap- / -arazzi were to blame, and her driver who’d had too much to drink.”

It’s A Bit Like: Newstopia, like we just said

Track Ten: Medicine Man

Splendid. Micallef performs a monologue in the guise of an old-fashioned doctor from a Yorkshire village, who holds no truck with the modern ways of that fancy coroner from the Big Town.

It’s A Bit Like: Alan Bennett, or Stephen Fry

Track Eleven: They Whisper His Name

Sotto Voce!

It’s A Bit Like: The title theme to series three of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, but taken in a different direction

Track Twelve: Charlton Heston Reads The Bible

One of our favourite things. Shaun gets another chance to do his brilliant Charlton Heston impersonation, previously heard in the reports by “Pilger Heston” on Newstopia. Charlton Heston is in a recording studio, trying to record a speaking book of The Bible, with amusingly splendid consequences.

”This God-damn Bible is taking forever!”

It’s A Bit Like: Newstopia, or Smith & Jones when they were at their peak

Track Thirteen: Love Theme From Roger Explosion

Performed by Susie Ahern, it’s a theme for the Roger Explosion sketches from Full Frontal (the 1990s Australian sketch show that we’re always mixing up with the similarly alliterative Fast Forward, even though Fast Forward was rubbish and Full Frontal was great and had Eric Bana as a cast member and everything).

It’s A Bit Like: They Might Be Giants’ theme for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Track Fourteen: Slap On The Terrorist

Another sketch we presume was originally penned for Newstopia, Shaun interviews Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the terrorist behind the failed 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Yousef clearly has long-held issues with the 9/11 bombers, who had clearly plagiarised his idea, and to compound matters, had carried it out with none of the panache and flair that he’d had. A great sketch, with Shaun putting in good performances in both roles.

It’s A Bit Like: Newstopia again

Track Fifteen: Jesus Was A Good Man

A country-tinged melody about how Jesus was really good, and how the devil is rubbish.

It’s A Bit Like: A satire on Toby Keith, or someone, we imagine

Track Sixteen: A Visit

An uncaring son visits his bewildered elderly father at an old people’s home. A brilliant sketch that works best when you hear it for yourself, so less said the better. It’s basically a fleshing out of a certain sketch from Micallef P(r)ogram(me), and the post-credits scene at the end of an episode Micallef-devised sitcom Welcher & Welcher, if you’ve seen those.

It’s A Bit Like: The Micallef P(r)ogram(me), or heck, Monty Python. Probably Cleese as the son, Jones as the father. Maybe even Cook & Moore.

Track Seventeen: Hell Of A Time

Just dandy. A short song from the perspective of a dead man reaching heaven, and being delighted about all the things he can do now he’s there. Oh, if only there were a way you could hear what it was like.

It’s A Bit Like: Eric Idle in full pomp

Track Eighteen/Nineteen: An Explanation/Modern Day Folk Heroes

Shaun muses on how Ned Kelly is Australia’s sole folk hero and how there should be more of them. He duly introduces a song about some more contemporary equivalents to Kelly in the hope they they could subsequently be held in similar regard to old bucketbonce. Said song is then performed in the style of Bob Dylan.

It’s A Bit Like: The Bit In Newstopia Where Shaun Sang A Song As Bob Dylan

Track Twenty/Twenty-One: A Briefing/Dalgetty’s Fruit Wholesalers

Mr Dalgetty, owner of a fruit wholesale firm visits a slick American advertising agency, and tells them all about the background of the family-owned firm, and what they’re looking for. The agency then performs their radio advert for the company. A bit one-note, but hey.

It’s A Little Bit Like: The Songs Victor Lewis Smith Did Between The Prank Calls On Nuisance Calls

Track Twenty-Two/Twenty-Three: A Synopsis/Cahiers Du Cinema

A French actor introduces his song in a near indecipherable accent, followed by his song, performed in something which may not necessarily be in actual French. We’re not sure, as like Girls Aloud, we can’t speak French.

It’s A Bit Like: Don’t know, but the backing music was also used for the menus in at least one of the Micallef P(r)ogram(me) DVDs.

Track Twenty-Four/Twenty-Five: An Early Morning/Tipworks Market

An eager father wakes up his children, because they are all going to… Tipworks Market. A short song about said market is then performed, in the same breathless style as Victor Lewis Smith circa Inside Victor Lewis Smith.

It’s A Bit Like: Victor Lewis Smith, moreso than the Dalgetty sketch

Track Twenty-Six: Poetica Zirconia

Just super. More top wordplay from Shaun, via a look at the work of poet Sir I.P. Whittingslow. Great stuff that we’re not going to spoil by transcribing here, so you’ll just have to buy the album. As the sketch contains several funny poems that work very nicely in isolation, this could be cherry-picked for an episode of The Smith Lectures, if Radio Two still do that. We wouldn’t know, as they’ve stopped putting their comedy shows on Saturday afternoons, because they’re idiots.

Track Twenty-Seven/Twenty Eight: A Tribute/My Generation

Shaun introduces and performs an electro cover version of the The Who classic, before waxing philosophical on matters historical.

“If history teaches us anything, it’s that we learn nothing from it. It’s a valuable lesson that’s worth remembering, and unless we do, we’re doomed to repeat it, or at least sit a supplementary exam during the holidays.”

Track Twenty-Nine: Happy New Year

Shaun’s celebratory tune designed to create global togetherness just after 11.59pm on every December 31st, by way of impersonating residents of several trouble-stricken nations forgiving their tormentors. A nice end to the album, and one we’ll hope to see performed on Shaun Micallef’s New Year’s Eve show on Australia’s Channel Ten. Or more specifically, the following day, if we can find a (“wholly legal advertising-supported streaming video of it. Where’s that bloody taxi?” – BrokenTV’s Legal Dept).

It’s A Bit Like: Spitting Image, again


So there it is. Much more of a ‘lazily-compiled breakdown of the tracks alongside a bunch of facile comparisons’ than an actual ‘review’, admittedly, but that’s just how we roll. In summary though, it’s really good, save for a few duff tracks like “Cahiers Du Cinema” or “Dalgetty’s Fruit Wholesalers”, which we didn’t really rate that highly. In a nutshell: the good tracks more than outweigh the bad, and if you don’t buy it we don’t think you shouldn’t legally be allowed to vote.


To round things off, how about offering a sample track? After all, it’s what successful music blogs do, it would genuinely help promote the album as people can hear for themselves what the contents are like, and probably won’t end with a harshly worded cease-and-desist letter being fired off at Broken Industries Inc. Yes. That’s what we’re going to do. it’ll be a good thing to do. A nice thing. An honourable thing.

MP3: Shaun Micallef – Hell Of A Time

Buy a copy of His Generation from here if you’re in the UK, or from here if you’re in Australia. If you’re from neither, both links are probably equally applicable.

(“Thank God you’re here. Driver – the airport please. We want nothing to do with this.” – BrokenTV’s Legal Dept.)


2 .:

Anonymous said...

Cahiers Du Cinema deserves another listen (the actor's name is Charles Camilla?!), but first watch Billy Anachronism from the P(r)ogram(me):)

Anonymous said...

Dalgetty’s Fruit Wholesalers makes me giggle every time in Newstopia. My friend even ripped it as a ringtone.

Really cant wait for my copy to arrive.

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