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Hello. I'm James Valentine
and this is The Mix. Arts, showbiz and culture,
this is what it's all about. The box office, bums on seats,
that's where it counts. I'm in the box office
of the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. That's because
the Sydney Comedy Festival is about to get underway. The comedians have all been in
Melbourne for the last little while, now they're all here. We're going to wander round
this lovely old building in Newtown. Here's what else we're going to do. Yes, Eurovision's almost here
and we've got the key changes, and this guy, Australia's entrant,
Isaiah Firebrace. Do you like the music? Because I often find the music
sort of, like, bewildering. Some, some can be a bit outrageous but I think that's
what makes it Eurovision. The story of Australia's first
land claims case hits the stage in Coranderrk. Coranderrk was one of those stories
that still is important to this day because we're still trying
to make a change and a stand. And the trippy art wonderland
that is Meow Wolf.

For 60 years,
the Eurovision Song Contest has been captivating audiences
with its outlandish songs and perhaps even more outlandish
costumes and stage settings. I think every year inspires
a new drinking competition as well, maybe that's why it's lasted. This is the fourth time
that Australia has gatecrashed this predominantly European event. So, we thought, "Let's sit down
and talk with our entrant, "Isaiah Firebrace, and Myf Warhurst, "who is this year's co-host
of the television broadcast." Let's find out just why Australia is
so riveted with this bizarre event. # Refrain # Couleur du ciel # Parfum de mes vingt ans... # Yeah, believe it or not,
this is Eurovision circa 1956. # Ou je courais enfant... # The song contest had
its humble beginnings in the reconstruction effort of
Europe after the Second World War. "What could be better," they thought, "than uniting countries
through singing and sequins?" # Rise like a phoenix... # Since then, Eurovision has expanded
into 43 countries and is viewed each year
by over 200 million people with roughly three million
in Australia alone. # Once I'm transformed... # What's your first memory
of Eurovision? First memory is actually... On SBS they had a documentary
of Jess Mauboy's journey and her preparations
for her performance. # I can tell by your eyes # You want more than this

# But can we be much more
beyond these sheets? # OK. So, before we go on, we should
probably sort out who's who here. Now, this is Isaiah,
our current Eurovision hopeful... # A sea of flags... # This is Jessica Mauboy. She was our first ambassador to Eurovision back in 2014. # It lifts me up... # Until Jess showed up, only a few Aussies had ever made
an appearance at Eurovision. # You know I'll beg, steal
or borrow... # There was Peter Doyle
and Marty Kristian, who, as part of The New Seekers,
represented the UK in 1972. # All the kids like
ten tin soldiers in a row... # Olivia Newton-John was also there
for the UK in 1974. And who could forget Austria's
1977 entry Boom Boom Boomerang? # Kangaroo, boogaloo,
didgeridoo... # Well, I guess
we were there in spirit. So, the first question
we should ask is - what is Australia's fascination
with Eurovision? I think Australia loves
great pop music. We always have. I mean, ABBA broke here
before anywhere else. # Waterloo # I was defeated
You won the war... # Australia's a very
multicultural society, so lots of people
would have been watching Eurovision, looking at what was happening
at home and songs from home and barracking and, you know, as the years have gone on,
it's just a cultural melting pot. I remember when people
first started, um, I guess, hate watching Eurovision.

And what Eurovision story
would be complete without at least one Eurosceptic? # As the moon is rising # Give us the sign... # I don't actually enjoy
any of the music, but I'm kind of always waiting for
that rolling-on-the-floor moment. It's always just, you know,
so blatantly obvious, so, you know...

..horrendous. What do you like about Eurovision
in particular? I like how it's, like,
got a massive audience and I love how it's, like, uniting. Everyone can come together in music.
Right. Do you like the music?
I like the music. This year there's actually
some really good songs that I actually really like.
Right. 'Cause I often find the music
sort of, like, bewildering. (CHUCKLES)
Some, some can be a bit outrageous but I think that's
what makes it Eurovision. # Shine into my darkness # Shine into the night
my rising sun... # It's hard enough writing a hit
that just appeals to one country and one country's sensibilities. To win Eurovision, you've got to
write something that is universal, and that's probably one reason
why the music gets so cheesy and watered-down is that
you have to take into consideration almost every region
of the world's dislikes. And so you end up with this
kind of ultra-ultra-homogenised, even more homogenised
than standard pop. (SING IN OWN LANGUAGE) While sometimes it might seem cheesy
and it might seem kitsch and it might seem a little bit tacky
or too overblown or whatever, there's great artistry
to some of it. Absolutely. I mean, if you can write
a killer power ballad and walk away winning
the Eurovision prize, you are a great artist. OK, so opinion is divided on the
quality of Eurovision songwriting but both Isaiah and Matt agree
on their favourite Eurovision moment. I guess, 2014,
the Polish entrant, We Are Slavic. # My Slowianie wiemy jak
nasze na nas dziala # Lubimy jak poruszasz tym
co mama w genach dala... # It delivered everything
that I wanted and expected from Eurovision in one hit and ever since then,
I've been disappointed. There were these ladies onstage
and... ..they were churning milk.

And I was like,
"What? Is this, like, allowed?" I feel like it captured
my expectations of Eurovision perfectly. It was every cliche
that I had about Eurotrash pop in one neat package. It was just amazing. (PHONE RINGS) Hello.
Eurovision Song Contest Headquarters. Hello! Australia calling. Can we sing at the
Eurovision Song Contest? No. You can't.
You're not a part of Europe. Australia's current fascination
with Eurovision feels a bit bullish to me. It feels like we've just seen a game
that's happening in the playground and we just kind of
forced our way into it. We're never prepared
to just sit back and watch something and enjoy it. I don't understand
why we have to be involved and why we have to kind of almost
hold it over their heads, hold the viewership
over their heads. I'm pretty sure that they allowed us
to enter this thing just to keep the viewership up
from Australia. But really,
it's not our place to be in it. But some would argue it actually is. Australian network SBS has broadcast
the competition since 1983 and is a member of the
European Broadcasting Union, the body that originally came up
with the idea for Eurovision. # I don't want tomorrow # Oh, baby, tonight's so good # Tonight's so good... # But despite Guy Sebastian's
performance in 2015 and Dami Im coming runner-up
last year, the EBU haven't decided
on Australia's long-term future in the contest. # But it don't come easy... # Maybe Isaiah can change their minds. The next couple of weeks is going
to be really, like, intense. There's the media
and there's the hype of it and then there's a lot of rehearsals
which are very important. And then dress rehearsals
and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, it's going to be busy,
let me tell you that, but I'm looking forward to it. Think it's going to be
a good challenge and I'm going to learn
a lot about myself and just the whole experience of it
is just going to be... It's once-in-a-lifetime
so I'm going to really treasure it. # Don't mistake me # My love runs deep... # The Eurovision Song Contests will be
broadcast on SBS Television from the 10th to the 14th of May. Check your local TV guide
for details.

A few years back, historians made
an incredible discovery buried deep inside
the Victorian Parliamentary Archive. A word for word account from 1881
of the very first Aboriginal land rights claim. The story of the Coranderrk mission has now been turned
into a powerful new play by the Ilbijerri Theatre Company. It had its Melbourne premiere
last week. Tim Stone went along to take a look.

WOMAN: Coranderrk was the first
land rights activists. The first people to fight back.

Coranderrk was one of those,
you know, stories that still is important to this day because we're still trying
to make a change and a stand.

It's not only Aboriginal history,
it's Australian history and it's so important for us,
as Indigenous people, to know that people back then
were fighting.

I want to tell youse a story. It's a proper true account
about a place called Coranderrk. MAN: Coranderrk? WOMAN: Coranderrk was hidden
in the Parliamentary archives with so many other stories
that need to be told. It was about a bunch of black fellas
and white fellas who worked and lived with each other
about 60 Ks outside of Melbourne. John Green started the station. He encouraged and worked
beside the black fellas to make Coranderrk
such a self-sustainable place. MCGUIRE: Did you find them
good workers? You never had any reason
to complain. No, never. Well, how did you manage
when they disobeyed?

Reasoned with them. You were not calling the police? No, never. There was a thriving community there. They had a butcher and a school
and a shop. They didn't need anyone else,
it was totally self-sustainable.

Once they became quite successful, it was pastoralists - that were people on the board
for the protection of Aborigines - wanted to go in there and stir
things up, grab a hold of the land. If Coranderrk belonged to you or me, would the fences
be constantly cut down? We should have our remedy at court. Is it not the same with Coranderrk? Government things
are not like private affairs. Has not the Board persistently
for years endeavoured to get the people
removed from Coranderrk? Certainly not! But anyone to hear you
would think the Board had some personal object to gain. They had to do something
about the management of Coranderrk and the main point of this,
the whole play, is that they were so intelligent,
they used white man's tool to get the inquiry up. We have plenty of milk and butter
and cheese. Who got up that deputation
that waited on the Chief Secretary? We got it up ourselves. No-one tried to agitate
on the question? No. No-one has tried to make you
dissatisfied with the management of the place?
No! Coranderrk is the first
recorded history where Indigenous people
were used as credible witnesses. Why should they take advantage
of a poor black because he cannot read and write?

I think they've done enough
in this country to ruin the natives without taking it from us anymore.

William Barak, Aboriginal, examined. MULLALEY: All the actors play both
black fellas and white fellas. All the actors play commissioners
and inquired upon. Only Ebony gets to play women. Should they be judged
in our courts of justice as men and punished as men,
if you say they are children? They are children in some respects
but when they steal, they know they're doing wrong. Do you consider it stealing
when you first of all shoot down their game
and they have nothing to live upon? The worst guy in it is Edward Curr. And the words that come out
of his mouth are just so horrible. Anyone who knows the blacks
knows their will is nothing. They might have a serious objection
now, which they will not remember
three months afterwards. They should be moved
for their own benefit. They are literally what people
refer to when they say, "That was the times back then," or, "That was the attitude
back then." It's him.
They're easy to manage. Reverend Strickland was
the then manager of Coranderrk, the mission manager,
and he didn't want to be there. He was not good at his job. Mr Strickland, the manager, is not
a fit man to work the station. Look, I don't know
what he was put here for. There are no improvements
since he was in this place, such as looking over the cattle
and the run and everything to make more grub
and clothing. The biggest challenge was
the verbatim because you cannot change a word. You have to watch when your next cue
comes up, so you're listening out
for a certain word but I'm listening at the same time
going... And I'm having, you know,
little sort of revelations within these different characters
that we're portraying. I'm going, "Far out! "So that's how John Green said this
back in the day." All recorded transcript. The absolute high for me
is watching Barak and Wandin and Caroline Morgan
standing strong and proud for who they are
and yet they've never left 1881. William Barak has had
a huge influence to a lot of people back in the day,
white and black. Why don't those whitefellas
who want to break the station go and break some of
their squatters' stations? The squatters have got more ground
in Victoria than we have. He led most of those people to
Parliament House in Melbourne and, you know, stood there
for justice. They wouldn't like us if we came
down and took their land off them and moved them from their homes. It was such a joy to see
that, with Ann Bon and John Green, that we have proof that we have
always had allies and friends in the colonisers. MCGUIRE: Coranderrk reveals
the resilience of human nature and the strength
that people can have and also the compassion
that people can also have as well. Why I do theatre is to help people
understand about where Aboriginal people
come from or who we are as a nation before the influences
of Western society. We want the Board to be no longer
over us. Then we will show to the country that the station
can self-support itself. I would really like audiences
to walk away from Coranderrk wanting to learn more of the real
history of this country.

Check the website for details.

So do you like my jacket?
That's ABC tartan. Small cheques. (LAUGHS WEAKLY) Yeah, we've got some real comedians
on in a moment. We're going to go off to the pub
and have a bit of a chat with them but before we do, top five. We thought we'd stay with Eurovision and what else would you do
but the top five most bizarre, most cringeworthy Eurovision moments
of all time? # My Slowianie wiemy jak
nasze na nas dziala # Lubimy jak poruszasz tym
co mama w genach dala... # OK, so we've already spoken
about these ladies but at number five we had to include
Poland's 2014 entry We Are Slavic, simply because of its audacity. In 2011,
the Poles bombed out of the contest, didn't compete for two years, then decided the best way
to influence the jury was to include a bit of suggestive
butter churning. They still didn't win. But We Are Slavic
has gone gangbusters on YouTube, becoming the most popular
Eurovision Song in history.

# Geng, Geng, Genghis Khan... # We've all got that one school
performance caught on tape. The one with the easy-to-follow
choreography, DIY costumes and innocent smiling enthusiasm. Well, that's what West Germany
broadcast to the world in 1979 when Genghis Khan performed, well,
a song called Genghis Khan. # He was the greatest lover
and the strongest man... # # Drag acts and bad acts
and Terry Wogan... # Who'd be better to represent
the Emerald Isle than a burping, unintelligible fowl? Hoping to hold onto their record
of eight Eurovision wins, Ireland's Dustin The Turkey
used the spotlight in 2008 to shamelessly plea for votes and apologise on behalf of
the Irish people for Riverdance. # Irlande, douze points
Irlande, douze points... # # Sieben, sieben
Ai lyu lyu # Sieben, sieben
Ein, zwei... # Sending drag queen Verka Serduchka
to Eurovision was fiercely opposed in the Ukraine. With members of Parliament and even
a nationwide radio station asking for her to be replaced. (SING IN OWN LANGUAGE) The rest of Europe
didn't seem to mind her bottom-spanking antics, though,
voting her runner-up in 2007.

And finally, there's an endless
supply of ballads about love, heartbreak, and loss but few performed by a 12-foot
falsetto-singing Romanian vampire. Our number one from 2013, it's Cezar. Here comes the key change. # It's my life # And I'll share it all with you

# It's my life # We were meant to be together... #

You put comedians in a pub, they're just going to start talking,
aren't they? It's fantastic. Romesh, how are you? I'm really good, thank you. Romesh Ranganathan
is a British stand-up comedian who takes great pleasure in mocking
children, especially his own. Hello, Bridie.
Hello. Thank you. Bridie Connell is a Kiwi comedian
and regular contributor to Foxtel's improv show
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Justin, have a red wine.
Thanks, mate. And Justin Hamilton
is an Australian writer and Comedy Festival veteran
who's battling middle age. They're all in town for
the Sydney Comedy Festival, so I thought it's a good time to
sit down for a chat about our comedy. Lorne Michaels said that
when he started Saturday Night Live, there were 14 comedy clubs in the US. There's now over 400. I mean, that's the same in the UK,
isn't it? Is it bigger than ever? Yeah, and I don't necessarily think
that's a good thing 'cause, like... 'Cause it just means
there's loads more comedians. Do you know what I mean?
JUSTIN: Yeah, that's right. I'd like if
there's loads of comedy clubs, but not loads of comedians as well. Well, I never encourage young people. I just always go, "No, don't do it."
No, that's what I say. When people say, you know,
"What would you say to, like, "comedians - budding comedians?" I say, "Please give up because..."
Yeah. (LAUGHS) How old are you?
I'm 39. Right. And you're...?
27. You're 27.
See, I'm 44, and I'm done. Like, this is
the last interview I'm doing because Australia has decided,
at 44, I'm over. 'Cause what I'm looking forward to
is I want to get to the point where I'm sort of resentful
of comics coming through... Yeah. ..and just sort of being
really sort of... Just trying to undermine people.
Like new acts. Like, I'll go, I'll be at a club, a new act turns up,
and then you sort of go, "That was a bit obvious,
what you did there." Right.
You know, just stuff like that. You can be a little bit more subtle. Like, you can go up to someone
after they've had a killer gig and just sort of say,
"So, when are you on?" And watch them just not really know
how to cope with it. Or before they've gone on, just say, "That's one of the best spots
I've seen you do." And just see them go, "I don't know
how to cope with this," and then they're out of comedy
in the next seven minutes. I go for an all-out approach. I just sit at the back and I heckle.
That's you? Everyone.
Yeah, every heckler, it's me. Let's talk about
the kind of limits of comedy. I mean, again, I sort of feel like we're reaching a point where
there are none, you know. Like, I feel like I can see people
who will execute jokes about topics that are
so otherwise unpalatable, it's extraordinary. Where are you sitting on that? I've sort of got mixed feelings
about it, really. When I first started
on the open mic circuit, you'd always have - and I don't know if that's been
your experience here - but you'd always have some acts that weren't particularly great,
but they did... They just went for shock jokes. Like, they would do, like,
you know, paedophilia jokes or rape jokes or whatever, and they would hit those topics
and they'd never get big laughs, but they would get a noise
from an audience. Yeah.
Do you know what I mean? And I felt like they were
going for it for the sake of it. I think that's different to going, "I will talk about
whatever I think is funny." Right? "And whatever that covers,
I will talk about that." And I think you're right
in that regard is we're able
to talk about everything. BUT I think the other side of that is that people
will always be offended. Like, it feels like... I don't know if it's 'cause of
social networking or whatever. It feels like
people are more offended than they ever have been. Do you know what I mean? It's very fashionable
to be offended... Yeah. all times, I think. What's the hardest area for you
to joke about? As soon as you say
the word 'feminism', sometimes, people's eyes glaze over
and it feels like you can't... You know,
you can't make a joke about it. Yeah, I'm like you. I sort of have mixed feelings about
what is on and off the table, but I kind of feel like, in the right hands
and the right context, you can make a joke about anything. It's all about context.
Yeah. It doesn't mean you SHOULD
make a joke about anything, and it's got to be a good joke, but I think the intent behind it
is really important. I think, like, you know,
whenever I've... And I'm not particularly edgy
or anything necessarily, but, like, whenever
I've talked about stuff that is...

Say, for example, I did a bit... It's not very controversial,
this bit, but it's just about how annoying
I found it teaching my son to read. I don't know if anyone here
has helped a child learn to read. It's one of the most magical
and rewarding things that I think you can do as a parent, the first time that you do it. (LAUGHTER) After that,
it's one of the most irritating, annoying, waste-of-time, would rather punch myself
in the face than ever do this activity again,
that you can do. Even though it went really badly
the first time I did it, I knew that,
once I got that routine right, it was going to be great. Like, it was going to get... The dividends were going
to be worth it. Yeah. It's almost like, when it's most difficult
to sell initially, I feel like you're going to get
the most rewards out of it. He does not care, this kid,
about making sense. He'll just rattle off the words -
all the little words. "If, and, but, da-da-da-da-da-da." Rattle those off. When he gets to a long word -
a difficult word - instead of trying, he'll just look at the picture and throw something random in
from there without any regard
for what effect that has on the rest of the sentence. And I'm supposed to not get angry?!
(LAUGHTER) I find most of the problems
with people being outraged by comedy is, invariably,
people who haven't seen it wanting to make comments
or watching it out of context. It's like the Barry Humphries moment
where, as Dame Edna, he said,
"Why would you learn Spanish? "Do you just want to talk
to your maid?" Right, right, right.
Yeah. Which was then a class joke about
that's actually, you know, who... Or the only Spaniards,
you know, Americans come... You know, the Latinos Americans
come across are usually staff. Yeah. So, he's not making a joke
against them. That's it. It's context and it's also
who your audience is, who your target is. Like, who do you want
to be laughing? Like, if you're telling... You know, I think one of the things
that people are, like, really concerned about
telling jokes about - and you have to think
very carefully about it - you know, any sort of crime
or violent crime. You know, do you want
the victims to laugh or the perpetrators to laugh? I think it's so much about
what your intent behind the joke is. I do sometimes feel my instinct - and I don't know
if you feel like this - my instinct is to say the opposite of what I think
the audience will feel just because, like,
when you see a comic go... ..say something really obvious and
then they get a round of applause. Like, they go, you know,
"Racism's bad. Am I right, guys?" Do you know what I mean?
Everybody goes, like, nuts. I mean, it almost makes me want
to argue for racism. It's the sort of thing, like, at least
there's something challenging and interesting in that,
do you know what I mean? Totally.
And so I do think that, sometimes, you just watch people
sort of go through a list of things that they know that everybody
in the room is in agreement with. Oh, 100%.
It drives me crazy. And then we all congratulate
ourselves in the audience and go, "I'm applauding and laughing
'cause I also think racism is bad." Yeah, yeah!
(LAUGHS) We've all been at gigs
where someone will get up and maybe have a topic
that is sensitive - maybe they'll do a routine
about suicide or something. You'll feel the audience be uneasy
and not know how to take it, even though the routine
is really solid and full of jokes, and, you know, it's something
that is personal to that person, and then you'll see someone get up and genuinely just do
a ching-chong-Chinaman accent and the audience loses it,
and, like... It was great to meet you that night,
by the way. Thank you. And I'll be honest, I feel bad about it,
but that's a heck of a closer. It's a heck of a closer.
It just works every time. I sign a lot of autographs
and sell a lot of DVDs afterwards, so, you know, I'm a whore for jokes. What can I say?
(ALL LAUGH) Just to wrap it up,
who are you loving at the moment? Justin, who's like, "Oh, man, that... "If I could bring that off..."? Or, "Wow, this is where it should be.
This is where this art should be." You know, to be
really honest with you, I'm just interested
in watching my friends. You know what it's like
when you're coming through and then
you're all performing together, and then everyone becomes headliners and, invariably, you don't see
your friends anymore. I want to see what my friends
have been cooking for the last year. Yeah, but I don't... I do like to watch my friends,
but not for that reason. I like to watch them, like, tank. Oh, do you?
That's what I like. Like, to see a friend that
you respect have a terrible gig, I don't think
there's anything nicer. Really?
I love it. Well, fantastic. Thank you so much
for joining us here in the pub. I know it's an unnatural habitat
for you, but very nice of you to join us. Thank you for having us. Cheers!
Cheers. Thanks, James. And two of our Pub Chat guests still have shows at the festival. Justin Hamilton is performing at the Enmore Theatre, and you can see Bridie Connell at the Factory Theatre.

Finally, on The Mix,
let us take you to a theme park from another dimension. It's art, it's interactive,
and it's in a bowling alley. (FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS

Entering the House of Eternal Return is a bit like walking into
a Salvador Dali painting. There's a neon forest,
astral projections and a fireplace
that leads to another dimension. What more could you want?

This is the creation of Meow Wolf, a collective of artists
who specialise in making massive, immersive art experiences.

Take, for instance, this giant ship. In it, audiences could explore
an alien planet complete with magical glow trees
and an interactive control room. After building
these huge installations across the United States,
the Meow Wolf team decided they wanted
to build something permanent.

And so, with the financial backing
of author George R.R. Martin, they bought a bowling alley in their hometown of Santa Fe,
New Mexico. The creation
of this psychedelic fun house brought together
over 130 local artists, boasts a stage for live music,
classrooms for after-school programs, and now draws crowds
from all over the world. Now, can we get Meow Wolf
to revamp The Mix offices?

Well, we've been at
the lovely old Enmore Theatre as the comedians prepare
for the Sydney Comedy Festival. Don't forget,
there's lots of great art stories on the ABC Art channel on iview, and you can always follow us
on Instagram. I'm James Valentine.
Get out of my room! Captions by Ericsson Access Services Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation

This program is not captioned.