Towing the Line with The Chaser

posted by
Filed under: Pranksters

Julian Morrow, Dom Knight and Craig Reucassell
November 23, 2007
ABC New South Wales

Julian Morrow, Dom Knight and Craig Reucassell of The ChaserJulian Morrow, Dom Knight and Craig Reucassell are all members of ABC TV’s hit program The Chaser. The boys started out writing a satirical newspaper and are now notorious pranksters. Recent stunts include impersonating Osama bin Laden and breaching security at the APEC summit in Sydney and they are regularly seen heckling politicians. Their new book is called The Chaser Annual 2007 – The Other Secret.

Election ’07 has proved harder for The Chaser because they have become so recognisable. “People are just expecting us to be everywhere. I think there’s a special squad in the Federal Police now which is dedicated to Chaser counter-insurgency, but on the other side of things the movement of the campaigns to YouTube has created a rich new source of material for us,” Julian says.

A lot of work goes into their stunts. “Andrew Denton really schooled us in making television, [he said] the stunts really have to be funny on the page before you go out there. You have to know exactly what you’re going to do. We have a bunch of people in our art department who put in the really hard yards of making material that is probably going to be funny when you take it out even when, as often happens, we swallow our lines, stuff it up, have to do a second take,” Julian explains.

They have made the decision to pull some sketches on the basis of sensitivity. “Chris wrote a script once which was a particularly good satirical take on the media’s coverage of Bali, but in the end we didn’t actually run it because we just sensed that people wouldn’t get the satire. They would just merely take it as being some kind of attack on Bali, and because the satire would be lost in it we didn’t think it was worth actually doing. The satirical point can be there but if the story is far greater then it may overshadow it,” Craig says.

Their notoriety is a sort of protection. “In a way that’s a bit of a protection from some of the apparently more dangerous situations that we might get into on the show. When people know that it’s The Chaser that kind of takes a bit of the dangerous elements out of it. Often the most concerning elements are where there’s a misapprehension that this might be a genuine situation rather than a television prank,” Julian says.
“Osama probably could wander around the streets of Sydney [and everyone would] say – ‘Oh, it’s just The Chaser,” Dom adds.

They’re aware of the potential to offend when doing a stunt. “We spend a lot of time in meetings going ‘Well that’s going to be a bit bad to do it that way, let’s do it this way’, or ‘that goes too far’ and sometimes in the end we do things and we go ‘that was a bit slack’ and we apologise for that. But you don’t actually see on television the amount of preparation, talking to people afterwards that tries to ensure that we’re not actually harming anyone,” Craig says.

“I think also it’s about picking your moment. I’ve certainly been at press conferences with a question to ask or a stunt to pull off and there have been moments where I think if you went straight away at the beginning or in the early part of the press conference you would definitely be hijacking a serious event and you’d run the risk of alienating the rest of the press. What you see on television might seem anarchic and care-free, but we do try to make reasonably intelligent guesses about when the strategic times to do our little bits are,” Dom explains.

Related Links:

  • Bush APEC Security Breached
  • Chaser APEC Security Breach Prank Update
  • Sex Offender Tee Shirt Prank