Shaun Micallef is without a doubt, an Australian treasure. Comedian, producer, presenter, writer and actor, Shaun has brought laughter and whimsy to our television screens through his sketch shows like Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, and with his comedy news program on ABC-TV, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell. He was a writer on the brilliant Full Frontal and even a game show host for four years. Now, the multi-talented Micallef has graced us with a collection of plays so we can enjoy his comic genius off the screen as well.
As well as being completely hilarious, The Uncollected Plays of Shaun Micallef is a testament to Shaun’s satirical eye, and his ability to inject wonder and wit into the mundane and everyday. Like allgreat comedy, the plays not only make you laugh, but also make you think, offering a critical lens through which to view both the world and ourselves.
The collection is intimate and endearing, with Micallef offering a personal account of what each play is about and why he wrote it. In this way, he makes theatre accessible to everyone, debunking the mainstream perception that theatre must be high-brow and high-culture: ‘I know that whenever I’ve had to sit through anything by Shakespeare or Marlowe or even Ben Johnson, barely anything that’s said makes any sense to me,’ he writes.
Micallef goes on to talk about a time when he was watching a performance of Volpone, and turned to John Bell, founder of the Bell Shakespeare Company, saying what we’ve all thought at some point when reading Shakespeare, ‘they could sure use some subtitles on this turkey, eh?’
The plays vary in theme, but share a common thread in the way they vibrate with Micallef’s passion and enthusiasm for theatre. Throughout the collection there are anecdotes about Shaun’s theatre experiences, from boyhood through to his later adult years. His plays not only reveal a sharp satirical tongue and a hilarious way of looking at the world, Micallef’s great knowledge about theatre, its history and politics, also shines through.
It’s not every day that you sit down to read a collection of plays and that is partly why this book is so wonderful. If you are new to the world of theatre and playwriting, this collection is the perfect introduction – warm, welcoming, and fun (unlike many of the plays you likely studied at school). If you are already a passionate theatre-goer this collection has rich rewards with Micallef’s masterful writing and seemingly endless knowledge of the craft reminding you of the technique and skill involved in playwriting. There are also sections that offer personal advice about how to write plays, and, if you’re brave enough, how to bring the script to production.
If you’re looking for something a little different to read, this collection will certainly introduce you to some new ideas, characters, and in some cases, words – ‘…what the freak is a ‘clotpole’?’
Do yourself a favour and read this collection but, if you’re like me and have a loud laugh, do yourself another favour and don’t read this book in public because people on the bus will stare at you.
About the Author:
Shaun Patrick Micallef is Australia’s most diverse writer, comedian and actor, having starred in and written for television, movies, radio and books.
He was born in Adelaide on 18 July 1962, of Irish and Maltese descent.
After ten years of working in insurance law as a solicitor in Adelaide, Micallef moved to Melbourne to pursue a full-time comedy career in 1993, after his wife insisted he try it or never talk about it again.
With help from his writing friend Gary McCaffrie, he got a role as a writer on Jimeoin’s self-titled comedy show in early 1994 (initially credited as Sean Micallef), before writing for sketch comedy show Full Frontal. He gained recognition with his move to an on-screen role on the show, and his own television special: Shaun Micallef’s World Around Him.
His success on Full Frontal and The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) on the ABC, co-created with Gary, was followed by the sitcom Welcher & Welcher and the variety show Micallef Tonight. He also fronted the satirical news comedy series Newstopia on SBS for three seasons and hosted the game show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation on Channel Ten for four years, and appeared in the comedy/mystery Mr & Mrs Murder. He now hosts the topical Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell on ABC-TV.
In addition to his television work, Micallef has been on radio, film, stage and is a published author. He co-hosted Melbourne station Vega 91.5 FM’s morning program for 2 years; on stage, he performed in the Australian production of Boeing Boeing and was responsible for the comedy show revival of ‘Good Evening’. His first book Smithereens was released in 2004 (re-released in 2011) and a novella, Preincarnate in 2010. As an actor, Micallef has appeared in movies such as Bad Eggs and The Honourable Wally Norman, as well as guesting in a number of series.