With John Safran’s Music Jamboree just
released on DVD (you can check out our review here),
Anthony Horan locked up his rubbish bins and
braved the phone to speak with the self-confessed
skinny pale whiny person himself to find out more
You finally got a series happening after all this
time…! The Music Jamboree DVD set has
quite a few extras from your earlier TV efforts;
these were from the channel 7 Late Report
Yeah, two of the stories were. That one on
talkback pranks actually went to air on Channel 7,
except it was when the show had totally died. I’d
finally gotten a decent story together, but it was
something like week ten and no-one was watching
by then. The McDonalds story was meant to go on
The Late Report, but they wouldn’t put it
What did you actually get stopped by the
police for in that story – is it actually illegal to
dress up as a clown and go to a McDonalds store?
It became apparent what had happened - that
McDonalds had misrepresented things to the police.
Even though they knew that we were just being
idiots, that I was pranking, they tried to get the
police down there faster. So they implied that
there had been a hold-up. When we got pulled out
of the car the police were searching us for guns,
and we had to put our hands up against the roof of
the car and everything. But then as soon as it
became apparent what had happened, the heat
was totally off me dressed in my clown uniform and
totally on the McDonalds management. The police
were not very happy. Eventually this one got
played on a British TV show called Disinfo
Nation, which was on Channel 4 there.
And did McDonalds react to that when it went
No, they were fine.
It’s pranks like these that people mainly
associated you with before Music Jamboree
turned up, but there’s a lot more to the series than
just that. Does that “prankster” image work
against you sometimes?
Yes and no… I try not to get too of pretentious
about these things. I’m just happy if anyone likes
my stuff! People go on about whether I’m worried
that after doing the Ray Martin thing that I’ll be
known as the Ray Martin Guy. And the thing is, I
guess most people are going to be known as... no-
one! It’s like how the Sex Pistols are my favourite
band, but they only ever had a couple of good
Speaking of the Ray Martin prank, that’s been
lurking around on the Internet for years now, but
it’s not on the DVD… not even as an “Easter egg”?
No, unfortunately not. I don’t own the copyright to
that one, it belongs to the ABC. So that won’t be
happening. I’ll have another go at trying to get
some footage off them when I put out the DVD of
my next series, but I wasn’t able to secure any
this time. And I tried. And then there’s that whole
possibility of all the discs getting pulled off the
shelf and stuff like that. I thought I’d better not
put it on. It was tempting though… I wonder what
the legal ramifications are of that, if you physically
put something in but no-one ever watches it.
That must have made it much harder to get a
TV series going, when the Ray Martin thing had
been so controversial from a legal point of view…
Well, it wasn’t actually too much of a problem from
a strict legal point of view. It was a problem from
an ABC ethics policy point of view. And in fact it’s
the other way around from a strictly legal sense –
once the ABC lawyers had looked over the Ray
Martin footage, their thing was ‘John, do you want
to take action? He has technically assaulted you,
and you could take action against him,’ though I
wasn’t going to do that. Definitely the commercial
networks see something like the Ray Martin thing
and they think it’s cool, it’s all sensationalism. But
SBS were good and supportive, and they were the
first people who followed through on their
promises. Everyone else says ‘hey, we really like
that thing, do it for us,’ but then when you do it
for them you get the police frisking you while
you’re dressed as Ronald McDonald and they won’t
put it to air. But SBS totally followed through
amazingly at all stages on their initial claim that
they’d let me do what I wanted.
SBS is in some ways almost turning into a
Channel 4-like station, but Channel 4 back when
they were really being innovative…
That’s definitely right. Debbie Lee, who is the SBS
Commissioning Editor, was looking at Channel 4 and
seeing how TV can be. Because there are British
shows that, even if they’re bad, they’re kind of
interesting, you can see they’re trying in a way
that most Australian shows don’t. It’s just a
different mindset or something, it’s weird. You just
wouldn’t get an Ali G or a Chris Morris Show
A lot of people still think of SBS as the “ethnic
Yeah, and what they told me is that they are
trying to expand it. So yeah, they’re the ethnic
broadcaster, but if the function of an alternative
to the commercial networks is to broadcast what
they wouldn’t, then surely they can somehow
squeeze interesting (English language) programming
into their charter.
Okay, so who’s the Music Mole?
Ah. Well, even at this late stage I must protect
the identity. It’ll be like that Deep Throat thing at
Watergate, every five years it’ll be about to come
out who it is.
What happened with that World of
Instruments segment that got removed from
That was Sonic Animation’s song Evil. It
was just a paperwork type of thing, a kind of
unfortunate issue that stopped it from being on the
DVD. It is a bit of a shame, but as they say, when
life serves you lemons, make lemonade!
Which you did in this case – the “commentary”
you put in its place was arguably better anyway.
Were you tempted to do a commentary for the
I’ve never seen a director’s commentary where it’s
not, after four minutes, like ‘oh god, STOP IT!!!’
You can get the wittiest people, the cleverest and
most artistic people in the world, like the team
behind Fight Club, they’re obviously so
talented and clever. And then you play the
commentary, and after five minutes it’s just too
much. The only good one I’ve ever heard was on
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Because
you know how you assume that doofus guy (Jason
Mewes) is acting? When you hear the commentary
you just realise he’s not. And Kevin Smith and him
have their cute little fights and stuff.
But commentary or not, DVD is the perfect way
to watch an entire series like Music
I’m so excited about it – I love DVD so much, it’s
just ace. Especially for a TV show. Instead of just
being on the air and then floating away into
nothing, you’ve got this permanent thing that can
turn up anywhere. My pilots were kind of like that –
nobody actually saw them on TV, it was all this
dubbing and taping…. So I guess my entire TV
career has not been all shown on actual TV. So
this was just an official way of doing it.
In the mini-commentary you mention posts
made to the aus.tv newsgroup; I’m guessing that
the people that did those posts at the time didn’t
think you’d be reading…
Well, I’ve had fun with them before. Once I read on
there, on the aus.tv thing, there was some guy
complaining while I was still filming the show before
it even went to air on TV. He was saying ‘I saw
John Safran posting a letter down in South
Melbourne… sheesh, how many takes does it take
to post a letter?’ So suddenly not only do I have to
do an entertaining show, but apparently when I’m
filming it I have to make it entertaining for any
passer-by who happens to be walking past. So I
went the guy at this Triple R outside broadcast –
totally incidentally, for some reason I brought it up
because I thought it was funny. I acted really
angry, but I was obviously joking. And the guy was
actually there. He ran out, and then he posted on
aus.tv ‘oh my god, I was at the outside broadcast
and I got scared and ran out…’
I notice you changed the email addresses in
the newsgroup posts you mention on the DVD...
Ah yes. I didn’t know the legal issues that were
involved there. But I thought I’d use their names
just to freak ‘em out.
People must constantly think that you’re going
to play a prank on them, especially after Music
Jamboree went to air…
Do you know the extent to which people think I
prank? A person came up to me today when we did
a Triple R outside broadcast, and they said they
rang up JB HiFi to ask about my DVD, and the guy
there said ‘nah, he doesn’t have one, he’s
obviously doing a prank.’ And this person said I’d
been talking about it on Triple R, and the guy from
JB said ‘yeah, I listen to Triple R, and he’s pranking
you.’ So the buyer at JB HiFi doesn’t even believe
that I’ve got a DVD out…!
Of the people that you satirise in the series,
have you had any legal hassles with any of them?
Or is that all vetted before the show goes to air?
On that level there were no problems, which was
really good. As opposed to, say, the Ray Martin
thing on the ABC pilot. Maybe it’s because there
were more colourful costumes, it was quite
obviously a joke this time. And while it’s not a legal
position to take, if it’s obviously meant to be
humorous you usually get off the hook a lot more
easily than if you’re indignant and self-righteous.
I would have expected Steve Price to be a
little bit indignant though…!
Yeah, well people were ringing him up and asking
him about it, and he wouldn’t bite, thank god. You
so don’t want to get into the legals of that. People
think it’s cool if I have to go to court over
something. But I know Stephen Mayne, who went
to court with Steve Price over defamation and had
to sell his house to pay the legal fees. So I
really don’t want to get in trouble!
So is there going to be another series?
Yeah, but not a music series. Probably a religion
show. It’ll be light-hearted, of course. It won’t be
too mean. Me and Mark O’Toole – who wrote
Music Jamboree with me – are going to
start writing it at the start of 2003.
So the Church of Scientology should start
Well, like I said on that commentary thing on the
DVD, they rang me up and thanked me for the
John Safran’s Music Jamboree double DVD set is
out and about to buy right now through The AV
Channel – assuming you can find a shop that
believes it, of course...
LINK : http://www.dvd.net.au/goto.cgi?news.cgi?id=2873
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