The Best Satirical Comedy from Australia and America

Updated in 2008: This is a selection of recent satirical comedy skits from the best Australian and American comedians.

The job of satirical comedians is to use irony, sarcasm, ridicule etc to expose and denounce the actions of individuals and organisations by revealing their hypocrisy and stupidity while also informing and entertaining their audience. The best comedians are equal opportunity offenders with no “sacred cows”, willing to offend anyone they feel is worthy of ridicule whether they are left or right wing politicians, rich and powerful, religious groups or anyone else.

In Australia, really good satirical comedians are few and far between. John Clarke and Bryan Dawe and the Chaser Boys are my favourites.

In America there are a lot more satirical comedians and my favourites are Jon Stewart (Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and Stephen Colbert (Colbert Report)

John Clarke and Bryan Dawe (7:30 Report)

In 1987, John and Bryan Dawe began to broadcast on radio a series of weekly interviews in which prominent and newsworthy figures spoke openly about issues of the day. This was of great benefit to the public and the idea moved to television in 1989. It has now been a regular feature in the vibrant Australian media mix for 20 years and is getting into its stride nicely. In the interviews, John makes no attempt to look or sound like the person he is pretending to be, but deals with matters as he sees fit. Bryan persists with dignity and strives for understanding.

Typically John plays the part of a politician or other prominent public figure and Bryan plays the part of an investigative journalist.

In this clip Bryan is interviewing an economist (played by John) who’s trying to explain how the global financial system works and why the sub-prime mortgage crisis occurred:

EDIT: Amusingly this article was linked to by Steve Bass editor of Pcworld.com on 14/03/2008 and he incorrectly referred to John Clarke and Bryan Dawe as “Australian comedy team Bruce and Dawe” 🙂

You can watch more of John Clarke and Bryan Dawe presenting their satirical take on the week’s events at the Clarke & Dawe Interview Archive – ABC 7:30 Report website

The Chasers War on Everything

The Chaser is a satirical media empire which rivals Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in all fields except power, influence, popularity and profitability.

The Chaser is the group behind ABC TV series The Election Chaser (2001), CNNNN (2002) and CNNNN Live (2003) which together have lost a host of Australian and international TV comedy awards. However, their credibility-building run of losses ended in 2004 when CNNNN tied with Kath & Kim to win the Logie for Most Outstanding TV Comedy. In 2005 they won the Logie for Most Outstanding TV Comedy with the hugely popular, The Chaser Decides (ABC).

In 2007, the team returned to ABC TV with The Chaser’s War On Everything, which won them two AFI Awards (Best Comedy and Best Comedy Performer for Andrew Hansen), as well as one court trial for disrupting APEC security.

In this clip The Chaser Boys are testing security around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Lucas Heights Nuclear reactor:

Colbert Report (hosted by Stephen Colbert)

Stephen helped The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to win numerous Emmy and Peabody Awards, and contributed to America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction which immediately topped The New York Times Best Seller List and stayed there for 15 consecutive weeks.

Eventually he became popular enough for Comedy Central to give him his own spin off show “The Colbert Report”, a mock (and very satirical) public affairs show where he plays the role of a egomaniacal, xenophobic anti-intellectual who claims to be politically independent, like his idol Bill “Papa Bear” O’Reilly; in reality, he fawns over the Bush administration and the Republican Party, and can frequently be heard asking his guests, “George Bush: Great president, or the greatest president?”

In this clip Stephen explains the meaning of “Truthiness” and how anyone can read the news to you but he promises to feel the news at you:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Presented by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart delivers smart wit, satire and commentary on current affairs. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning program takes a reality-based look at news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment with an alternative point of view.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

The show is, as host Jon Stewart likes to say, “the most trusted name in fake news.” Its millions of regular viewers cleave fairly cleanly into two halves: smart people of all ages, for whom it’s the only watchable thing telecast on a more than weekly basis; and disaffected young people, for many of whom it serves as their principal source of news … Unmistakably, “The Daily Show” belongs smack in the progressive tradition of American political satire. From Mark Twain through Lenny Bruce and beyond, this tradition has generally targeted conservatives for their policies, while mocking liberals mainly for their hypocrisy or incompetence in opposing those policies


In this clip Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi shows where the cost of a barrel of oil goes to and explains why they love Bush in the Mideast:

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11 thoughts on “The Best Satirical Comedy from Australia and America”

  1. Jon Stewart is pretty funny. Are you able to check out “The Soup” in Australia? Joel McHale is hilarious. Do a search for Talk Soup, or Joel McHale or The Soup on Youtube. I’m sure there’s a lot of clips on there. Nice blog by the way.

  2. When Comedy Central announced that they were coming to Germany, I was extremely happy. Finally my daily fix of Stewart and Colbert on tv.

    And then they announced that they would be really innovative and show only funny German shows. CC Germany sucks big time.

    EDITOR: so what’s the most popular comedy show in Germany ?

  3. Nice comedy, I just love comedy. It keeps you happy and forget all types of difficulties in life.

  4. I’m AUstralian and I STRONGLY DISAGREE that in Australia “really good satirists are few and far between” (and you didnt even MENTIon the UK, which does excellent satire). Did you happen to take into account the fact that we have a population of only 20 million, i.e. 1/13 that of the US? How much do you know about Australia – are you really aware of LAL our satirists and comedians and their work, such that you have done a completely objective and comprehensive survey in order to pronounce that only 2 teams are “really good”?

    As for US satirists yes, you;ve said there are a “lot more” satirical comedians – well, surprise surprise, the US has THIRTEEN 13 TIEMS the population of Australia. There may be a “lot mroe” of them, but that doenst mean they’re any good, does it! In fact, US comedy is hardly known for its sophistication – most of it is pathetic childish slapstick suited to the retarded intellectual development of the population – so OCCASIONALLY Jon Stewart and Colbert come up with an instant of “really good” satire, but ONLY OCCASIONALLY. The rest is childish. Our good Australian comedians are ALWAYS good – and CLEVER to boot.

    From OZ, the Land of Wonder, the Land Down Under – World’s 2nd highest quality of life (US = 26th) and 2nd highest life expectancy (US = 10th).

  5. i agree with the 8th comment.
    we are a lot smaller then America so i don’t think we should be compared to the amounts of satirical shows they produce. the ones we do produce are bloody awesome! if this was updated in 2008 then why didnt you mention one of Australia’s most popular satirical tv shows, summer heights high?
    or what about we can be heroes or kath and kim?
    i know that summer heights high is actually airing in america at the moment so i suggest you take a look, funniest show ever!
    well, catch.

  6. I totally agree but you are missing the Friday Mash gang – http://www.fridaymash.com. Have you checked them out? I subscribe to their weekly Friday Mash email.

    I love their satirical commentary particular their cartoons, made up caricatures like Gaelene Woo who heads up the Beauthaven RSL branch of ALP, First Bloke’s BLOG from Tim Mathieson and Gertie Gittens, the longest-serving parliamentary tea lady in Canberra.

    I do love Hollowmen as well!

    People who say political satire is dead are completely wrong, in fact with the success of the Chasers and with the quality of Friday Mash and others, we it alive and thriving in Australia which is great!

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