In 2008, at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, a 25-year-old Aussie comedian named Sam McMillan launched what he called the The 50 Year Show, a live comedy show scheduled to reprise every five years, ending in 2058 when he will be 75. The idea, according to McMillan, was to create “a living, breathing comedic time capsule. Every five years we can observe the world, make predictions, see how the world’s changed.”
The “purest expression of the idea,” McMillan told The Age, is “to have a bunch of five-year-olds come out and do a dance and come back every five years’ time. I imagine when they’re 15, that’ll be the most difficult time. By 20 it’ll probably be retro and cool. And hopefully by 25, if the show’s done really well, they’ll be celebrities with coke addictions and so on.”
It makes sense then that McMillan – who is obsessed with time and, reportedly, wrote messages to his future self as a kid – would appreciate the comedy inherent in the idea that time, eventually, makes fools of us all. And it’s no surprise that the comedian’s latest effort, Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane, has been described as a “celebration of suburban ‘dag’” – an Aussie slang word meaning: not stylish, not trendy, not cool, untidy, not neat, out of fashion.
Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane is a musical comedy – available in the US for the first time exclusively on Seeso – about two mismatched housemates, Sammy J (a human) and Randy - his purple puppet roommate. At base, the show is a take on the classic buddy comedy, and follows the duo as they bumble through various daggy, 1970s-era milieus searching for love, meaning, and professional success. Everything in the show, from the warm, 70’s-era camera filter to the vintage clothing and set design, transports the viewer to another time and place.
Both Sammy J and Randy occupy familiar comedic roles as narcissistic man-children. Sammy J (McMillan) is a “hopelessly incompetent lawyer,” while Randy (Heath McIvor) is an “unemployed freeloader who obsessively stalks his ex-wife.” And like much great comedy, humor serves as a device for a exploring deep topics like loneliness, self-obsession and how suburban banality can slowly eat away at the soul.
The first episode (“The Postman”) opens with Sammy J and Randy spending some quality time together at their house on Ricketts Lane. Together they gleefully play a sadistic version of hide-and-seek, in which the seeker attempts to inflict as much physical pain as possible on the hider (in this case with an electric taser). But their perfect afternoon is cut painfully short when a ring at the door reveals that their census forms have arrived. The sudden rupture of adult responsibility into their oblivious, consequence-free world sends both into a spiral of self-loathing that calls into question every aspect of their lives – and the rest of the episode follows each character as they attempt to address their past failures (while also introducing a fantastic supporting cast of co-workers and ex-wives).
What follows is a whirlwind romp through ridiculous musical numbers, absurd gags and the bitter stuff of loneliness. And the end result – which sets the tone for the remainder of the season – happens to be extremely funny.
Sammy J and Randy are deeply flawed dudes. Randy is obsessed with the past and unable to move forward. Sammy J believes his problems will be solved by finding a wife but repeatedly neglects the obvious and persistent opportunities right in front of him. But both characters are ultimately lovable because we can relate to their struggles. And the complimentary cast of other flawed, lovable characters makes Sammy J and Randy a hilarious and deeply welcome addition to the US comedy rotation.
Love comedy? Watch Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane and a boatload of other original comedy exclusively on Seeso.