Aussie comedian Dan Ilic is on set over at Network Ten appearing on their mid-morning show Studio 10. The whole time, he's wondering how he can steer the conversation about the latest viral video or the conspiracy theories surrounding that missing plane to his latest project. You see, because he's a comedian, and has a pathological desire to make you laugh your arse off at how insane Australia is these days — Afghanistralia as he calls it. So together with his band of merry writers, directors, videographers and web minions, he wants to make an Australian online comedy series reminiscent of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Welcome to A Rational Fear.
It's amazing Dan has been allowed back onto a Ten panel after the last time he was there. He went onto Wake Up! and staged an impromptu on air tribute to bring back sacked co-host Natasha Exelby.
If host Natarsha Belling could shoot lasers, Dan would be a smoking remnant of the man he once was.
It's ok, though. Only around 1000 people saw it thanks to the dwindling audience of breakfast television, and I imagine that most of them laughed anyway. That's the sort of comedy Dan and his writers want to keep making with the online version of A Rational Fear: controversial comedy that you can't help but get addicted to.
If you've heard of A Rational Fear before, that's because it's actually fairly successful on the internet and on Australian radio already. It had a 25-episode run as a podcast before it was picked up by FBi in Sydney, and then eventually went on to join ABC's Radio National network.
But why the internet? We asked Dan that if the show's been so successful, why doesn't he just approach Australian TV networks to make it?
Simple, he tells me: because they have no sense of humour.
"Australian commercial TV networks are tricky places for this kind of show; We just wouldn’t make financial sense to a commercial free-to-air network," he tells me in an email in between takes.
"A Rational Fear is not a show that’ll rate 2 million every week. It’s also the kind of show that should be on at 9:30pm at night, not prime time; commercial TV networks don’t spend money on original programming outside the hours of 6:30-8:30pm because they can’t get the audience to justify it.
"Editorially it’s tricky too, two of the commercial networks have very controlling proprietors who meddle with programming. The only place on commercial TV for this show would be Foxtel, or Channel Nine, because Nine is owned by German bankers and they wouldn’t understand that we’re making fun of them."
Even the public broadcasters are tapped out for comedy these days, what with their investment in Shaun Mcaleff's Mad As Hell, the Chaser's The Hamster Wheel and Clarke and Dawe tearing it up on 7:30. Plus, as Dan puts it, "SBS doesn’t have any money for jokes".
"I’d have to start pronouncing the Ch in my surname, and it’s difficult to break that habit," Ilic adds.
Even if he was given ABC money, he wouldn't use it on A Rational Fear first. His first order of business would be to put Darkwing Duck back on, before putting his show up against the stuffed shirt, live tweet-fest that is Q&A.
So to the internet and crowdfunding platform Pozible Dan went.
His quest to raise $50,000 for A Rational Fear to live online is almost up, and he's only just crossed the halfway point for the campaign. At the time of writing, Dan has around $30,000 of the $50,000 target with six days left to pledge.
That $50,000 will all go towards paying for a satirical comedy show for a 10 week season run. The team of five writers has already created three weeks of content with seven easily achievable.
Already we've had great content making fun of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's ongoing callousness to refugees, and an amazing video injecting real facts into a Tony Abbott speech.
But most of the budget for the Pozible campaign, Dan explains, will go on a video crew.
"To make an episode of the kind of TV we want to make the costs are extra ordinary, around $150,000 an episode, so for $50,000 we’re hoping to make 1 or 2 videos a week. People don’t realise how expensive TV is. On Hungry Beast [a former ABC show for the youth that gave us everyone from Marc Fennell to The Checkout's Kirsten Drysdale], we had a Bobsled shipped from Melbourne to Sydney for 4 second joke. Was it worth it? Not my place to say. Let’s let the Coalition’s ABC efficiency audit decide that."
A Rational Fear is also trying to make it worth your while to contribute, too. Not only do you get the sweet, sweet content once the campaign is successful, but there are a whole bunch of crazy rewards.
$1000 gets you a t-shirt that says, this shirt cost me $1000," Dan tells us. It's pretty fetching.
"But there are other cool rewards as well, VIP seats to the rest of our live shows, a special VIP stand up show for you any where in Sydney, a harbour cruise with the A Rational Fear team. There’s some good stuff.. and with 6 days to go we need about $19000 to reach our target."
So Dan has six days. Six days to raise $19,000 to make fun of the national state of affairs for 10 weeks on the internet, and give Australia something it needs, but doesn't really know it yet.
Besides, you won't enjoy what Dan has planned if he doesn't succeed.
"I’ll cry," he tells me, "then sack my team of comedians, journalists, and filmmakers and put them on the street. Do you really want that?
"Imagine MORE unemployed comedians choking up the M4? Is that what you want?"
No, we want to laugh at what Australia has become. Imagine if we had stuff like this every week!
Contribute to A Rational Fear right here. Disclosure: the author of this post has contributed to the campaign.