INTERVIEW: Sammy J ready to celebrate The Twelve J's of Christmas
Comedian Sammy J had big shoes to fill when he took on the weekly spot on the ABC that was once occupied by the late and great John Clarke and Bryan Dawe.
It was a prospect that he admits left him a little terrified. But over the past 40-weeks he’s found his groove with sketches like Playground Politics, Yoga and Government Coach.
Now, in a warped year that was, The Twelve J’s of Christmas Special brings together the ‘best bits’, which will air this week on the ABC (December 13).
It’s a process Sammy has enjoyed, as he and the team prepare to take a well-deserved break.
“Every week that I've done this, you know the last 40 weeks of sketches, I've always tried to do something as original as possible.
We’ve tried to pick the best sketches that will show people the news in ways they haven't seen, whether it's something quite theatrical or stupid or musical that's been our brief this year.
It's been fun trying to package them into something nice Christmas stocking and hopefully, the audience can see the year flash before their eyes”.
The last 12-months have been very good for satirical comedy. It’s been a case of ‘art-imitating-life’ and the ongoing turmoil in Canberra (and in Washington) has proven to be a gift that keeps on giving.
For comedy writers and performers like Sammy J, it’s been a dream come true.
“If you'd told me at the start of the year the stories we'd have to cover: a deputy PM having to step down over an affair, a constitution crisis, the government becoming a minority government with a new Prime Minister, this is beyond fiction!
I was actually worried because when I started this spot. There was all that pressure, but it’s been made so much easier because of the wealth of material coming out of Canberra.”
According to Sammy, the freedom afforded them by the ABC has been key to producing a 3-minute sketch each week. He admits that having toiled on half hour shows, the shorter format has been ‘liberating’.
“The ABC pretty much leaves us to our own devices. They'll check the scripts for defamation, but apart from that, we don't really have any editorial points we have to hit.
It’s really lovely it being only 3-minutes. It means we can have our idea and focus in on it. But there’s a whole folder of scripts that will never be seen!!
We've probably had, for every sketch that goes to air, one or two that get written and then thrown away, some times because the news cycle simply over takes you.
It's called 'killing your babies' in the industry. You have to be able to throw away even your favourite bits, or a song, or a script in pursuit of something”
Sammy J and his co-writers, Chris McDonald and James Pender will be back in the first week of February. There are also plans for a national tour next year.
“It hasn't been officially announced, but I'm going to bloody announce it now.
We're doing a national tour next year in the middle of the year and will be called 'Sammy J's Major Party' and it's based on all these characters from the show, which is really exciting.
I'm a live comedian at heart and if there's a new audience to come from the TV stuff, then that's really exciting.”
In the meantime, there’s Sammy J: The Twelve J’s of Christmas Special. It airs Thursday 13 December at 9.30pm on ABC COMEDY and iview