As they have been in the news recently it only seems right to quote the words of Monty Python: “Australia! Australia! Australia! Australia! We love you! Amen!”
As you might be able to tell, this is a review of a surrealist sketch show from Down Under. The first thing that should be highlighted is that it’s Australian; making this show something of a rarity. Just about all the UK’s comedy imports are from the United States. We do not really get much in the way of comedy shows from any other countries, even other English speaking ones like New Zealand, Canada or Eire. We often see comedians from these countries, but not the shows from their native lands.
Problems features a small central narrative, namely creator Sam Simmons playing a version of himself who has small problems with the world that he tries to solve while looking after his pet cat Mr. Meowgi (really a man in a cat outfit). In the first episode for example, he discovers that the company which makes his favourite tacos have changed the recipe.
There are plenty of recurring characters in the show. These include his next-door neighbours who sit outside on the front lawn discussing odd issues, such as having to shoot their favourite dog because they were popping out for a moment; the moths who live down the back of Sam’s sofa who behave like a troubled married couple; Sam’s uncle Warrick who hosts a “Mid-Morning Trivia” quiz with stupid questions and prizes like a “sexual trout”; and the man who runs a two dollar shop who seems to have all the answers and has a perfect life.
Some of the ideas to take warming up to, but there is the odd moment that is amusing. Many of these appear to be one-off sketches. For example there is a woman who decides to make promotional videos, one of which is an advert for a dugong killer. Another is of someone singing a song about an officer worker called Ultra Phil, despite the fact the work is not called Phil and objects to being sung about.
Simmons is also a talented performer as well as a writer. One funny scene features him in flashback as a child, although he plays the part as his adult self, and is later showed in tacos with his childhood friends covering him and stuffing his mouth with tacos.
This appears to be a slow-burning sketch show. It may start of slow, but there seems to be plenty of ideas to keep it going.
Score: 3 / 5
Problems starts on Dave on December 4th