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Wild uggs won't spice up humourless show

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Derek Mooney, with a pigeon he found at Ailesbury Road . Photo: Damien Eagers

Derek Mooney, with a pigeon he found at Ailesbury Road . Photo: Damien Eagers

Derek Mooney, with a pigeon he found at Ailesbury Road . Photo: Damien Eagers

AH, the Mooney show. It's deeply hilarious. Or, to be more accurate, its web page is. Or, to be more accurate still, a tiny section at the very bottom of its web page is.

The bit that reads "IMPORTANT NOTICE" (all caps, so obviously important), "Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild".

Yes, yes. From a health, safety and animal welfare perspective, this is responsible stuff.

Still, it's hard not to fantasise about just how much the live, on-air, opening of mysterious bits of post would spice up the show's trademark mix of tweeness and tedium.

"What," we'd wonder, "will Derek's secret package contain this week?"

Delicious ginger nut biscuits? A lovely hand-knitted jumper? The mouldering carcass of a hedgehog?

A recipe for must-listen-to radio, right there.

PLOUGHED

But, alas, the "IMPORTANT NOTICE" currently remains the only thing that's deeply hilarious about the Mooney show.

Though it did take a cack- handed stab at modest hilarity this week, when Mooney introduced their "newly-appointed, special news correspondent, Paddy Browne".

For 10 stilted minutes, Derek and 'Paddy' ploughed through some of the week's most notable items of "special news".

Such as: Facebook's audacious "$54 trillion bid" to buy "the entire internet", and how New Zealand's population of "wild uggs" ("small, shaggy-haired" mountain goats, Paddy explained) was being devastated by the insatiable global demand for UGG boots.

Then came the non-astonishing reveal. These were hoax/gag stories (gasp!).

And 'Paddy' was, in fact, Colm Williamson, founder of Waterford Whispers News, described by Derek as "probably Ireland's finest satirical website".

"Goat uggs? Are you having a laugh?" a credulous listener wanted to know, via text. Well, we weren't. Having a laugh that is.

Largely because the awkwardness of the fledgling Mooney/Williamson double-act bludgeoned all but the tiniest traces of humour out of material that probably worked reasonably well in its native environment: as text on screen.

The Mooney show needs to step back, act its age, regain its dignity, and focus on the core interest of its listeners. Like, y'know, skeletal remains.

Newstalk's The Picture Show (with Philip Molloy, pictured below) continues to be both welcome and frustrating.

Welcome because dedicated film shows on national radio are as rare as wild uggs. And frustrating because Molloy's film reviews still feel excessively scripted – too stiff to work well on radio.

Where Molloy excels, however, is as the kind of free-wheeling interviewer who can turn even dreary press junket chats into something worth listening to.

CRACKER

Saturday's brief interview with Terry Gilliam, for example, was a cracker.

Did Gilliam, wondered Molloy, really still view Hollywood as "an abominable place", as he'd suggested several years ago?

"Oh, it's lower than that now," he laughed – taking delicious potshots, first at Steven Spielberg (for only making "reassuring, comforting films") and at contemporary Hollywood, for its courting of Christian Right audiences (with biblical epics like Noah).

Wise man. Good talker. Great fun.


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