The original post for this episode can be found here.
John August: Hey, this is John. So, today’s episode has a little bit of swearing, not a lot. But if you’re driving in the car with your kids, this is your warning. Thanks.
Kate: Previously on Scriptnotes:
John: My One Cool Thing is The Katering Show, with a K. It’s this Australian team, these two women, Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan. They are ostensibly doing a sort of YouTube cooking show where they’re talking about cooking gluten-free, or cooking with ethical ingredients, but it’s really sort of about their lives and everything falling apart around them.
Craig Mazin: They are awesome.
John: So, Craig, I’m watching this, and I’m really questioning why no one has figured a way to use them here. Because you see Rebel Wilson, you see other great Australian people who would be able to cross over. I just feel like there’s a thing you could do with these guys that could bring them to a bigger audience.
Craig: Well, all right. So, why don’t we see how powerful we are? Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, you don’t know us, and we don’t know you. We don’t know if you listen to the show. We don’t know if anybody you know listens to the show. But, if some magic should happen, give us an email, drop us a line, and then let’s — who knows — see what happens?
John: We will see what happens.
Hello and welcome. My name is John August.
Craig: My name is Craig Mazin.
John: And this is Episode 254 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Today on the program, our dream has come true. We are so excited to welcome Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, the Kates, to Los Angeles and specifically to our little program. Kates, welcome.
Kate: Thank you.
Kate: Oh, no, thank you for having us.
Craig: God, I feel like I know you guys. I really do. It’s almost like we’ve spent time together already.
John: We’ve been chatting for a while, and I actually forgot to hit record. So we are rerecording this little bit, I will confess. But, I think it’s also important because now we know how to introduce you guys properly and to help — hopefully how to paint a word picture for people who are listening at home. Because you’re both named Kate. You’re both Australian. And it could be confusing. But we’re going to get through this. And so let’s start with Kate McLennan. You are blonde. You are the first person who is going to speak. Tell us something about yourself.
Kate McLennan: Yeah. Look, I also have very big teeth. I have fluid retentive ankles apparently, according to McCartney on the show. Although, now I do reference my ankles quite a lot.
Kate McCartney: Yeah.
McLennan: I’m just the bubbly, cheery — I’m the brains of the operation.
John: So you’re the John of the two of you. You’re the one who organizes things?
McLennan: Yeah. That’s it. That’s it. I’m the one that — people ask me like what’s really good about McCartney, like why do you work well together. And I’m like, well, McCartney is really talented, she’s a great writer, and I’m good at responding to emails.
John: [laughs] It’s a very key skill.
John: Now, McCartney, tell us about yourself.
McCartney: Oh, well I’m Kate McCartney, and I’m sort of the teenager of the group. I don’t like going out. I don’t like people. I just like my cat.
Craig: You know, it is kind of like they are the female Australian us.
Craig: Because I also — I don’t like people. I definitely try and shirk as much responsibility as I can in this partnership.
McCartney: Yeah. No kidding.
Craig: You’re like, it works out great.
McCartney: It sure does.
Craig: We don’t have to do anything. People love us.
McCartney: We’re lazy.
Craig: Because we feel like — they’re free. They’re not constrained by anything. And they have to keep things going.
John: So, while our program is a podcast, you guys have an actual program-program. It is a series called The Katering Show that I feel in love with. Craig also knew it.
Craig: Oh, it’s the best.
John: And we’re so excited to have you guys talking to us about that. Let’s start with a clip from the show, so people who don’t know what The Katering program is, what kind of setup would you give about what The Katering Show is?
McLennan: It’s an online cooking show, hosted by us. And so we play these heightened versions of ourselves where I am an intolerable foodie.
McCartney: And I am intolerant to all food.
John: Great. Let’s listen to a clip.
McLennan: These days, food isn’t about how it tastes. It’s about impressing people on social media with how it looks. Fuck how it tastes.
McCartney: Fuck how it tastes.
McLennan: Seriously. Fuck how it tastes. It’s about decanting some soft drink into a mustard jar wrapped in weeds and shoelaces.
McCartney: It’s about set dressing your food so it looks like you work for Gourmet Traveler. But you don’t, do you? You just have an iPhone and a Nashville filter like every other asshole in the world. And so you take your photo of your dukkah eggs. And then you just sit there, tracking your ASOS order and waiting for eleven likes that never fucking come.
John: So, how did the show come to be? What is the genesis story of The Katering Show?
McCartney: So we were working on a — this is Kate McCartney again. We were working on a — it’s just good.
McLennan: We’re not doing an interview like that. A taped interview.
McCartney: That’s right. It’s important to qualify. I don’t want things kind of credited to you that I’ve said.
McLennan: Yeah. Fair enough.
Craig: Good point. Good point.
McCartney: So, we were working on this other web series. And we shot a video in order to crowd fund the web series. Basically just pleading with people to give us money for our idea. Subsequently, I think just friends and family gave us money and strangers did not.
But, the video itself was just us talking to camera as ourselves.
McLennan: And this other project was — you were directing. We were both writing. And I was acting in it. So we weren’t on camera together.
McCartney: No. And then weirdly we ended up getting more positive response from this video that we shot, the crowd-funding video, than we ever did for the web series.
Craig: Isn’t that amazing?
McCartney: So, we thought, well, there’s probably something here. We should explore this. And at the same time, I was being diagnosed with a ton of food intolerances. And you were getting annoyed at me pretty much.
McLennan: Yeah. I was becoming like more and more of a foodie asshole essentially.
Craig: Right. Whereas she was becoming a fake disease asshole.
Craig: So it was like a real problem.
McLennan: There was a natural point of tension between the two of us. So, we thought that could be fun to explore. And, you know, food culture was just bursting right out of the gate at that point in Australia, which I’m sure, you know, the same here. And kind of worldwide, like everywhere. So, we kind of just hit a nerve with it and we made the show.
It was funded in part by Screen Australia, which is like a government funding body back home. And we thought maybe, you know, we’d get maybe 10,000 views when we released it on YouTube.
McCartney: Yeah. I remember us sitting in the car and going how many views did we get.
John: So there was no network behind it. There was no push behind it?
McCartney: No sir.
John: So you actually just produced it. Because it has really high production values. And so it looks fantastic, but how many days of shooting was it to make those six episodes?
McLennan: It was probably about 12 days, I think.
McCartney: Was it? Yeah. Maybe shorter. I don’t think it was 12 days. It was more like, I don’t know —
Craig: It seemed shorter to you because you did less.
McCartney: That’s right. I was barely there, guys.
John: And what was the process? So, you wrote out all the episodes. You cross-boarded, or did you shoot episode by episode? Or how did it all work?
McLennan: We did pretty much episode by episode.
McCartney: Unless it was location, and then we’d pinch those days in.
McLennan: And that’s the same kind of with the second series as well, which was a little bit longer. We rented a house off Airbnb with a lovely big kitchen.
Craig: Oh, really?
McLennan: We didn’t tell the people from Airbnb what we were doing. Because we just never thought that she’d ever see it. And then —
McCartney: She saw it.
Craig: She saw it. Was she cool?
McLennan: Yeah, she saw it. Well, she —
McCartney: I don’t know if she was ever cool.
McLennan: Put it this way: I don’t think we’re allowed to go back.
Craig: I see.
McLennan: You know when people, they kind of think that — we did film there for the second season and —
Craig: Yeah. I was going to say, it’s the same kitchen. But she’s at this point lost —
John: She knows.
McLennan: Yeah. I think she came home one day and saw what it looks like to have a film crew in your house. And that can be quite confronting.
McCartney: Yeah. So people expect it to be glamorous, but actually it’s a ton of equipment very respectfully laid down over the top of someone’s life. But it’s still a lot of equipment.
Craig: Exactly. And men who aren’t glamorous, lugging cables around with their pants sort of on, kind of half-off in the back.
McCartney: Yeah. And if that’s not your thing, then, you know, you’ve got an issue.
Craig: Yeah, I’m good with it. One thing that’s wonderful about your show is that it does actually fit in that mold of parodies that are so close to real at times, because there are a ton of — I mean, there’s too many cooking shows. My daughter is 11 now and she’s obsessed with cooking shows. So she watches all of them, and I’ve grown disgusted with all of them, in part because there’s this crazy fetishization of weird things.
And also because they fake everything. It’s infuriating. And cooking shows have always done that. They always like, I’m going to assemble it — anyway, here’s what it will look like in the end. And you guys get that perfectly, but then there’s this thing where you’re constantly dropping out and the relationship and the timing between the two of you is amazing.
The things in between. In season two, there’s just these little interstitials where there’s like a hand that comes in and caresses a piece of — like a plastic container. And then slides one and then keeps sliding it. It’s bizarre and it’s perfect. And then little facts, like for instance, parsnips are the ghosts of carrots. That’s amazing. You guys are amazing.
And, by the way, you’ve answered a question that I had. I’m sorry, this is what my questions sound like: endless, ridiculous monologues.
John: Yeah. He’s so critical of people that ask questions by their statements —
Craig: But it’s half my show, so I get to. I wasn’t sure if either of the things that you say you are on the show are things you actually are. But they are. You really are an intolerable foodie. And you really are food intolerant. And that list that you run, is that — like on the first episode?
McCartney: That’s legitimate. That’s legitimate. I can’t eat anything.
Craig: Oh my god. And you’re like — and how many of those things do you believe she actually can’t eat?
McLennan: Well, I think a lot of it is attention-seeking.
McCartney: Whereas I don’t have that made within me, to have a lot of attention on me. That’s actually you projecting onto me.
McLennan: But I also think that maybe, you know, you should just eat something and just suck it up.
McCartney: Okay. She did offer me some — what were they — a couple of biscuits the other day. It was like, they’re made of gluten, but they’ve very flat. [laughs] I’m like that’s not how food intolerances work much.
Craig: Right. She doesn’t have shape intolerance.
John: Well, let’s talk about the characters you play though. Because you say they’re heightened versions of who you really are. So how do you, as you’re writing these things and as you’re sort of coming up with the characters, how do you recognize those things that are annoying about you and bring them up? And are there any moments as you’re playing them that it’s like, no, no, no, you’re not going to say that about me?
I remember hearing Sharon Horgan talking about writing Catastrophe and she asked like, “I need to describe something terrible about you. You tell me what it is that it’s okay for me to say.” What is your process?
McLennan: We tend to come up with things about ourselves and then put that in there.
McCartney: Put in that there. Firstly, I don’t think anyone is more critical of us than we are ourselves, so I think that kind of helps.
McLennan: Although we will pick up on stuff in our personal just day to day outside of the writing process lives. And then inevitably that will start to filter in. So there will be a quality about McCartney or something about me that will invariably work its way into the script. Nothing seems to be sacred.
McLennan: From our private lives. Like all of the stuff that’s to do with medical conditions is usually pretty spot on.
McCartney: You think so?
Craig: But it wasn’t your actual placenta?
McLennan: Yes it was.
Craig: That was your actual placenta?
Craig: Okay. So, there’s an episode, was it one?
McLennan: Number two.
Craig: Season two, episode two, you both had children by this point.
Craig: And you’re both lactating, which you’re very excited about.
McLennan: Yeah. Thank you.
Craig: And you’ve decided to make a lasagna out of your placenta. [laughs] A Plasagna. And then out comes — and I know what placenta is. That’s placenta. But I couldn’t imagine it was actually yours. Did you like freeze it? And you were like — as you were having gravy you’re like, episode, freeze it.
McLennan: Yeah. We wrote the episode before I had the baby.
McCartney: When she was like dangerously close to popping. It was kind of making me feel a little unsafe. Because she was in my front room, just sort of hovering over a football, in a perfect pose, to literally give birth on my carpet. And I was like you need to just — we just need to get these scripts out, mate. And then you’re welcome to become two people. For the moment, stay as one. Stay as one —
Craig: And you were pregnant at that time?
McCartney: No, I wasn’t. I had had my kids. And my kid was like five or six months at that time.
McLennan: And I had said all along that I was going to keep my placenta. And you were like, mate, I don’t — when the time comes I think you’ll have other things on your mind.
McCartney: Like the birth of your first born.
Craig: Right. No, she didn’t.
McLennan: Well, I actually remember it really, really clearly. Because I had gone through this really intense labor. And then eventually, you know, I just was like I’m taking the drugs.
Craig: Well done, by the way. Smart move.
McLennan: And I was lying there. And I started thinking about the show.
McLennan: I did. Because we were —
Craig: Because you were high.
McLennan: Yeah. And at that stage you had had your baby, but you’d had a Cesarean. And I was preparing for — I was going to be having a Cesarean and I was talking about having a Cesarean. And we had written a bit into the show that I had had a natural birth.
McCartney: We had very optimistically written that.
McLennan: And so, okay, we’re going to need to change that. And so the show was like in my mind as I’m lying there.
McCartney: Yeah. Because you’d only stopped writing it like two days beforehand.
McLennan: Yeah. It was very, very weird. And then I had the baby and the midwife came in and said did you want to keep your placenta, because I had written that I didn’t want to in my birth plan. And I was like, yes. And then she gave it to me in a little bucket. And I gave it to my partner. He took it home, put it in the freezer. And then when it came to shooting —
McCartney: Just sat in there with a little label on it.
McLennan: Yeah. I gave it to Jo, who is the head of our art department.
Craig: Oh, lucky Jo.
McLennan: And she had to plate it up. And it didn’t occur to me until we’d finished shooting and we’d wrapped and I was like, oh, I made another human being who is not related to me or my child handle — and who is not a medical professional — handle this placenta. And we shot in the middle of summer and —
Craig: Oh boy.
McCartney: That placenta was out for the whole day.
Craig: Oh man. You’re like let me remove the membrane.
McCartney: That thing reeked.
Craig: And it’s so funny — well, because, all right, this does remind me very much of you and me. That McLennan’s heightened version of herself is this need to — she wants to be Martha Stewart. She wants to be perfect. She just can’t. And then she breaks. So we get to watch you basically have a nervous breakdown about 12 times an episode, which is about nine minutes long. And McCartney is just seconds away from saying, “Fuck it,” always. Always.
And then like the levels of her Fuck-it-ness become so — I mean, the booze reviews are getting super fuck-it now.
McCartney: Yeah. Yeah. No, I’ve really checked out.
Craig: [laughs] Absolutely checked out. It’s amazing. It’s such a great combo. And when I was a kid, I don’t know about you guys, but I was obsessed with Laverne & Shirley. I just loved watching Laverne & Shirley. And I just — like I want to see the two of you living together. I want to see the two of you in an apartment. I want to see the two of you doing — it’s weird. Like I want more “what else do they do together?” How much fun would that be? But maybe I’ll never get it.
McCartney: We do everything together. I don’t think we see anyone else.
McCartney: So, you know, there is material there.
McLennan: Yeah. But, you know, I think our characters that we write that are in that show kind of do seem to pop up in some way in everything else we do.
McLennan: And when we’re thinking about ideas for other projects, we keep — I’d really love to do a film when we are 13 — and we didn’t know each other when we were that age — but I’d love to write something if we did know each other and how that would work out.
Craig: Oh, you mean like a young you guys?
McCartney: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
John: Let’s talk about this. Let’s finish up with Katering Show. So Katering Show, everyone can see season one on your site, The Katering Show.
Craig: On YouTube as well.
McCartney: And on YouTube, yeah.
John: But this new season, where should they find your new show, if they’re listening in the US?
McLennan: It’s actually on an SVOD service at the moment called Fullscreen. Which you can download the app. I think it’s free for the first month. So, you know, you can download it and watch our show. And then what you do beyond that is up to you.
McCartney: Do what you will. We’re not your mum.
Craig: Just what the Fullscreen people were hoping you would say.
John: We’ll have links in the show notes for that. But the reason why we’re excited to have you here, and the reason why we sort of said, you know, does somebody know the Kates so that we can talk with them is because we kind of think you guys should be doing a lot of other stuff.
Craig: We want to make you famous.
John: So we’d like to talk to you about —
McCartney: We want to let you do that.
John: Well, famouser is really an interesting question, because how famous do you want to be? And what is like coming from Australia to here? Is that even a goal? Is it patronizing to sort of assume that anybody who is doing great work in Australia wants to come to LA?
McCartney: Well, firstly, we want a god-like kind of level of fame. So, you know.
Craig: Got it.
Craig: All right. At least we know the rough —
McLennan: Because that really suits our —
McCartney: It certainly suits my introverted personality. But, no, of course. Yeah, the industry is small in Australia. If you’re a comedy writer and — well, you started off as a standup. I started off in the animation industry, but then I moved into comedy writing. There aren’t that may narrative things that you can do within Australia. There’s a lot of stuff that’s kind of light entertainment. You can write comedy for talk shows. You can write comedy for game shows. You can write comedy for sort of like late night shows sort of.
McLennan: But there’s no guarantee you’d even get a year’s worth of work out of that. It’s very hard to have a fulltime career.
McCartney: No, you’d be very lucky to sort to get sort of two jobs a year. And they’d be contract. And they’d be sort of —
Craig: So like Summer Heights High, there’s not a lot of those?
McCartney: No, there’s Summer Heights High.
Craig: That’s it.
John: What’s interesting is here we only see the ones that really broke out. So we see Priscilla and Summer Heights High, like Josh Thomas’s show plays here and that’s great. Please Like Me.
Craig: My daughter watches the dancing academy soap opera.
McCartney: Oh yes. Yeah.
Craig: What’s that called?
McLennan: Dance Academy.
McCartney: Dance Academy.
Craig: I thought it was called Australian Kids are Dancing, or something.
McLennan: Oh, maybe they’ve changed the name over here.
Craig: Yeah. Maybe over here it’s called —
McLennan: That’s a catchy title: Australia Kids are Dancing.
McCartney: Are dancing.
Craig: Are dancing.
McLennan: It sounds like we’re a bit special, doesn’t it? [laughs]
Craig: Yeah. I think it’s called Look at the Australian Kids; They’re Dancing Again.
McCartney: Yes. Full Stop. They’re Dancing Again. Full Stop.
John: But you guys are here in Los Angeles. And part of your trip to here in Los Angeles is not just to be on Scriptnotes, but also to take meetings and set up other things. So what happens on one of these trips? What have you done so far and what could we help you do?
McCartney: Yeah, well we did get an agent last year. So we —
John: You’re at one of the big agencies? Where are you at?
McLennan: We’re WMA.
Craig: That’s one of the big ones.
McLennan: Yeah, which we had no idea about. So, like I had to ring my friend who is an actor and say who are these guys.
McCartney: Are they any good. And silence on the other end.
John: So what was it like when they came to you?
McCartney: It was just after the first season. So I was six weeks off having a kid. So the countdown had begun. But I don’t even know if we properly connected till after I had the baby. But I think actually what happened — no, I think what happened is that a few people contacted them saying we need to speak to these people. Do you know who these people are? That kind of thing.
Craig: They came looking for you?
Craig: Well, yeah, I mean, and I get it. I understand why. And now I assume part of what they do is they say what do you want.
Craig: So what do you guys want?
John: Yeah, pretend we’re agents.
Craig: Because by the way, we will be more effective than your agents. I guarantee you. Right now we’re being more effective than your agents.
McLennan: Well, we — yeah, we knew that we were coming over for this trip. And we’ve been building this trip up in our heads for months and months. And we only just sort of really finished The Katering Show in February/March, around that time.
McLennan: And since then we’ve been working on a new idea, because we feel like there’s momentum behind The Katering Show, so we’re looking at this like a fully sort of fleshed out half-hour like lifestyle kind of version of The Katering Show.
McCartney: Yeah. An expanded world pretty much.
Craig: Got it.
McLennan: So that’s kind of what we’re talking to a lot of people over here. But then we’ve got our little other projects that don’t so much feature us in front of camera. So, we haven’t been pushing those as much.
John: Well, it’s really interesting, because you’re both actors and great performers, but you’re also really good writers. And so it’s a question of do you step behind the camera and write something for somebody else, or should you be out in front being the star of something. You know, Rachel Bloom who has been on our show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, she was a writer for a long time. She was a writer on Adult Swim shows. And she’s a really writer, but she’s also a performer. And she had to make the decision at some point like, you know, she created the show with Aline and she’s the star of that show now.
But she could have also been a really great writer behind the scenes. Megan is another example of a — she’s really a great writer, but she performs.
Craig: I think these guys kind of have it figured out, actually. I mean, you guys write it, you direct it, you star in it. You produce it. Right? And it shows. It’s great. I mean, the one thing that I’m sure people have mentioned to you is if you come here it’s harder to do — well, not even anymore. I was going to say it’s harder to do just like eight or nine episodes for a season, but now it actually isn’t that hard.
McLennan: It’s getting shorter, which is, yeah.
Craig: We’re kind of transitioning here over to the European model, which is to go shorter. So you can actually do it yourselves. Stay in front of the camera, by the way. You get more money.
McLennan: Okay. Okay.
John: You get more money and you also get more control, because they can’t replace you because you’re the person on —
McCartney: On camera.
McLennan: That’s very true. Someone mentioned to us a couple of days ago if a studio bought an idea, you know, do they buy an idea? Is that how it works? Or they option an idea. And then, you know, someone said, yeah, and then if it doesn’t work out they can fire you. And the thought of coming up with an idea that you put all of your heart and soul into and that someone could then turn around and say, “No, no — “
McCartney: No, no.
McLennan: “You guys can’t work on this anymore.” Like that would be devastating.
Craig: Wouldn’t that be devastating John? Can you imagine that happening?
McCartney: That would crush us.
John: [laughs] I can’t imagine that it didn’t happen like three times last week. Yes, it does happen a lot.
Craig: They can stab me in the same hole. They’ve stabbed me so many times in the heart, they can just put it right in that same hole again. It’s very easy.
John: So, in television we have a thing called upfronts, which is where they announce all the new shows. And so sometimes they will announce at upfronts like, “We’re so excited to be picking up this show. We love it so much.” And at the same time they’ll be saying, “Oh, by the way, we’re firing you. And you’re going away. And we’re bringing in a whole new showrunner.” And it’s like that’s accepted. That’s a thing that happens.
McLennan: That’s just the way it works.
Craig: It’s not going to happen to you guys.
John: It’s not going to happen to you, because you guys are going to be on camera, which is fantastic.
Craig: But don’t let them take any of your hair, because then they can clone you. Very, very important.
McCartney: Ah, thanks. Very good point.
Craig: Maintain all hair.
John: And no facial scans.
Craig: No facial scans, guys.
John: So they can replace you with CG characters. That would be awesome though. Wouldn’t that be amazing? So, they’re probably talking to you both about TV and about features. And so what do they want you to write? When you talk to your agents, what are they pushing you towards? Come up with a pitch for this, come up with a script for this?
McLennan: Yeah, I guess it is that. Something that can sit alongside The Katering Show.
McCartney: Yeah, at the moment, just because there is so much momentum around that. The trip has been by and large focused on that. And we’ve kind of had the opportunity to sort of have more general meetings with people and just say this is us. Look how funny we are. Don’t touch my hair.
Craig: Right. Don’t touch my hair. Exactly. We get that all the time as well.
So, you do these, you go and you sort of say look at me. And are people — have they been watching? Because sometimes I know people go on these meetings and they’re like, “We didn’t know who we were.”
McCartney: Yeah, yeah. And I think mostly people have seen — if not both series, then certainly the first series they’ve seen. So that’s good. Because it’s not a cold room.
McLennan: There’s usually someone somewhere within the organization who has championed us in some way. And it’s usually quite an indirect sort of little filtration system that has landed us on someone’s desk. But it’s very strange for us to be in a situation where people are saying, you know, we love the show. And then for us to take that compliment and not immediately say something self-deprecating.
McCartney: Yeah. It’s just not the Australian way.
Craig: Tall poppy syndrome.
McCartney: Yeah. It’s really hard. We’re learning how to go, “Thank you. And we love your shoes.”
McLennan: Yeah, because normally I’d be like, “Yeah, we’ve really lucked out.”
McCartney: A couple of failures.
Craig: Maybe the first episode of the second season, when you were describing something as over-hyped and not really all that good. And you’re like, “We can relate.” I mean, I actually think that’s great. I mean, I do think that people like that sort of thing. Don’t change that. That’s actually terrific.
McCartney: We’re unlikely to change it. It’s just that we’re trying to couch it in more positive terms like, “We are really good at being self-deprecating.”
Craig: Right. As opposed to, “No, please do not give us money.”
McCartney: Never hire us.
Craig: You don’t want to do that.
McCartney: Although that being said, every job I’ve ever had, people have gone, “Do you want to do this job?” And I’ve gone, no. And they’ve gone, “You’re hired.” So.
John: Yeah, always very useful.
Craig: And she’s like that never worked for me. I had to beg and beg and beg.
McCartney: Yeah, it’s so true.
John: Here’s a question for you. So, if you’re meeting with these American companies, is there any implicit sense that you will be writing for American characters? You will be writing yourselves as American characters. Has that come up at all, about sort of — can you take the Australian off of it?
McLennan: Yeah, people — it came up yesterday. Someone asked us would be interested on writing on other shows. And we would.
McCartney: Straight up. Yeah.
McLennan: The idea of just sitting in our rooms — we don’t have offices. We’d just be in your front room.
McCartney: My front room. The dead fish.
McLennan: Knocking out a script for a half-hour, for a show over here. That sounds like heaven.
McCartney: That does sound like heaven. Doesn’t it?
McLennan: Like we’d totally be into that.
Craig: You’d get more than that room. There’d be probably a live fish if you request it.
McCartney: Which I would then kill, because I’m not good at it.
Craig: But here’s the deal. You would kill it, and then you’d come in the next day and it would be alive again, because somebody’s job is just too —
McLennan: Alive again.
McCartney: Assistants. We’ll get an intern on that. It will be great.
Craig: There’s like a room with a thousand of those fish and they’re just like —
John: Next one. [laughs]
Craig: Next one. Okay. And the other fish are like —
McCartney: I think she’s a serial killer. Right.
Craig: Exactly. I don’t know what happened.
John: Does having young kids change any of the equation for you guys about sort of what you want to do next, and moving here, or doing stuff different places?
McCartney: Well, in terms of what we want to do next, I think it just means that we’re more discerning about what we want to do. Like we don’t want to unnecessarily take time away from our kids with something that we don’t truly enjoy or love. But they’re not in school yet, obviously, because they’re not crazy geniuses. Little Man Tate style geniuses.
John: They’re 15 months old.
Craig: They’re aggressively normal?
McCartney: Yeah, they are. [laughs] Yeah. They’re properly normal. And so we could always come over here for sort of short stints or what have you.
McCartney: So, I hope my partner is listening to this.
McLennan: Yeah, see, I hope my partner is not listening.
McCartney: Okay, great.
McLennan: I’m just going to come home day and just go, “So, we’ve got a deal. And it’s paying this amount of money.” And then he might go, “Oh yeah, cool.” Because at the moment it’s kind of hard to say to someone, “So what you do, you have to give up your career and come over here and just wheel the kid around the Grove all day. How do you feel about that?”
Craig: I think he might be okay with it, actually. Because I’m thinking about applying for that job if he doesn’t take it, because that sounds pretty awesome.
McCartney: Pretty nice.
Craig: I can’t guarantee. I’m sort of with kids —
John: Craig, you’re married.
Craig: Well, okay, there is that. Okay. Hear me out though. I’m married and I do have two kids. And I kept both of them alive.
McCartney: Oh, well congratulations.
Craig: Or, maybe one of them was like the fish and then they just put another baby in.
McCartney: Just an intern.
Craig: Or multiple babies. I don’t know. I got what I got.
John: Yeah. His children are very tall. So, that’s useful. You have that.
Craig: They are. Yeah, they’re very, very tall.
McCartney: Well, that’s the mark of a successful parent.
Craig: Thank you. [laughs]
McLennan: How old are they?
Craig: My son is almost 15. And my daughter is almost 11.
McCartney: Well, you’re due for looking after another baby.
McLennan: They could maybe come over to my house.
Craig: Great idea.
Craig: You don’t want the boy doing it. The girl would be better.
John: The girl would be good at that. She would love that. I’m also thinking that there may be a scenario in which you think about Catastrophe which is, you know, very much feels like a British show, but is a big hit here on Amazon. So, there may be some version where you get to shoot a show that is Australian but is really designed for a worldwide audiences. Because so much of what we see here is just like those rare Australian shows that sort of break out. But maybe you could write something that is designed for, you know, set in Australia but is designed for a bigger worldwide audience.
McLennan: That’s what we’re hoping for. And I feel like with The Katering Show, because we have watched so much stuff online anyway, it was always in our minds that we wanted to write something that wasn’t necessarily Australian.
McCartney: You said that in a really Australian way.
McLennan: So, you know, I think that —
Craig: So Australian.
McLennan: I think that whatever we write would naturally be informed by the world around us anyway.
McCartney: Certainly in this next incarnation of The Katering Show, and then also beyond that as well.
Craig: I think you guys are inexorably Australian. I think you’re both incredibly Australian and I think that that’s awesome. And no matter what you do, I actually feel like it’s cool. There’s something fun about it. It’s not like being Australian is fun. It’s just it’s not the same old thing. I think like the weird way some words just don’t match up, you know, from there and here, I’m all for it.
Like I’d go and look it up. Like what was that word? Duqqa?
McCartney: Oh, Duqqa.
John: I asked what this word meant, because even as I watch the show, I get like 90% of it, 95%, but like that 5% I don’t get is sort of fascinating. It’s like I’m hearing — it’s like science fiction. Like I’m watching Star Trek and they’re talking about some invented thing. Like what is that? And it draws you in.
And we always talk about specificity on the show. And it does very much feel like a specific Australian subculture that is great to see from the outside.
Craig: Plus, too, your Australian-ness makes you great observers I think of what I think of as like mainstream American culture. For instance, if you expand your show and it’s like you said a lifestyle show and you’re looking at gadgets and whatever it is. That it’s like you’re visiting from, you know, the opposite of the world. And you’re like, “We’re going to tell the truth about this.” And you’re trying to be like the perfect person there. And you’re like, “Fuck it.”
Craig: Or what do I do with this? And when can I drink? Wonderful. It’s just great. Don’t change. That’s what I’m saying. Don’t change.
McCartney: No problem.
Craig: Don’t change. [laughs] You’re like, wasn’t going to anyway.
John: So it’s like Laverne & Shirley meets Crocodile Dundee. That’s the pitch they want to set you up.
Craig: No, they’re just great on their own. You guys are the best. Honestly. I can’t wait to see what you do. I really can’t. You’re so smart. The two of you are so smart.
McLennan: We know.
Craig: Thank you.
John: See, that’s good. You’re taking the compliment.
McLennan: I did it. I did it guys. That was very unnatural for me.
Craig: It was actually terrible. I might take everything back. And also, god, the timing. Timing. You know, there’s something that you just cannot teach. I mean, guys, their timing is impeccable.
McLennan: We do a lot of takes. And there is a lot of editing.
McCartney: Yeah. Honestly, we really do only speak to each other by and large. I mean, I speak to my cat, but she’s not much of a conversationalist.
McCartney: So, yeah, the back and forth is really just as we are.
Craig: But even if you edit it, or you do multiple takes, you can’t get it unless you know what it is. You have to know that you didn’t have it, you know. Like I never see anything mistimed. Ever.
There’s a shot where one of the interstitials is just a shot of somebody, one of you, turning the hood on the vent hood. And then it just holds there. And it holds for exactly the right amount of time. It’s exactly too long, but exactly not too, too long.
McLennan: And we agonize over that.
McCartney: We do agonize over frames.
McLennan: Frame by frame.
Craig: Like where will this be the most uncomfortable and wrong? There. That you can’t teach anybody. That’s music. I love that.
McCartney: It is music. I was about to say it’s like music. Yeah.
Craig: It really is. You guys have a great ear. I love your work. Big fan.
John: Cool. We should have warned you about this before you came on the show, but we have a tradition where we do One Cool Thing, which is we recommend one thing that listeners should check out. Sometimes it’s a song, sometimes it’s a videogame — it’s often a videogame — or something you’ve seen in Los Angeles that might be interesting for people who are visiting Los Angeles for the first time. So be thinking of that while we give our One Cool Things.
McCartney: In Los Angeles?
John: Or Los Angeles. Or anything. Anything you want to recommend.
Craig: It could be an Australian thing, too.
McCartney: I know what I’m going to recommend.
John: So I have two One Cool Things. They’re both little games. First is this game called Mini Metro, where you are building essentially these subway stations. You’re building these subway lines to connect these little dots on your screen. And it manages to be both incredibly tranquil and incredibly stressful at the same time. Because they keep adding new subways stations and you have to connect lines to them. And you’re trying to get these passengers — it appeals to your need for order, and yet the realization that you cannot possibly make everyone happy.
And so it feels like a very true expression of the perils of modern life. The second one is a thing that Craig will make fun of me for. It’s called Human Resources Machine. It’s an iPad game.
Craig: Oh, we get to make fun of you again for it? Fantastic.
John: So, this is a game where you are this little mail worker and you have to carry packages from one side to the other side and set up these rules for doing it. You’re essentially sort of programming yourself to do these things, so you are basically a little robot.
McLennan: Like a robot mailman?
John: You’re a little robot mailman. And you have to figure out little systems for doing it.
Craig: This is so great, because he is a robot. And he’s a robot playing on a robot machine, pretending to be a robot.
John: And this is the nature of our characters. Because I really am not a robot, and Craig is not really quite the character he plays on the show.
Craig: I am exactly this. This is who I am. And I’m telling you, if you cut him open, it’s gears.
John: It’s gears.
Craig: Gears and blinkies. Well, that’s a great segue into my One Cool Thing. This — a lot of people tweeted this to me, and it’s actually kind of incredible. It’s a short film called Sunspring and it is directed by, well, I can’t see — it doesn’t matter who directed it because — Oscar Sharp. What matters is who wrote it.
It was written by Benjamin. Benjamin is a program. Benjamin is an artificial intelligence writing program. And so Benjamin was given the task of writing a movie, and then they actually did it. They shot Benjamin’s script with real actors, Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley, and Elizabeth Gray, and Humphrey Ker. And you can watch this movie. And it’s awesome, because it is the most nonsensical thing imaginable, and the actors do an incredible job of attempting to imbue proper emotions to these words.
But it’s things like someone is sitting there and he goes, “I don’t even understand.” And the other person goes, “What are you?” And then a third person walks in and says, “Huh, I’m sorry, I had to go to the skull.” And then he picks up a thing and looks at it and goes, “Yep.”
And then another person says, “What are you talking about?” And then the person answers them, “What are you talking about?”
And you can see the software occasionally going, “I’m bored. Let’s try something new that makes absolutely no sense at all.”
McLennan: It sounds like The Room.
John: I was going to say, it sounds really great.
Craig: It’s awesome.
Craig: Have you ever heard of The Shaggs?
McLennan: I feel like I have.
Craig: There’s a trio of girls from the ’60s and their dad made them, he wanted them to be a band. And so he made them learn instruments. And then he had them record an album. And they are perfectly incompetent. All three of them. And they wrote their own songs. And Frank Zappa said, “If you did that on purpose you would be the greatest musical genius of all time.” Like you could never write this. It’s amazing.
John: They had no sense of how music actually worked.
John: They didn’t know how to play their instruments.
McLennan: And they’re called The Shaggs?
Craig: Well, over here, we didn’t —
Craig: Shag over here was like a kind of carpet. And over there. It’s like our whole thing with fanny pack, which drives people crazy in other countries.
McCartney: It’s also a bird.
Craig: And we’re like, but you guys taught me a new word I didn’t know. Cunt stump.
McCartney: Thank you. We did. You’re welcome.
Craig: Appreciate it.
McCartney: That’s actually a word — we didn’t make it up. One of my friends made it up. And I thought, well, this deserves to be in it.
Craig: Who is the director anyway? I don’t know, some cunt stump.
McCartney: It’s so good.
McLennan: We replaced ourselves with our director.
McCartney: Who had been our onset director. We decided not to try and direct it as well this time around. Although we were very in control. But still, you know.
Craig: Some cunt stump.
John: McCartney, do you have a One Cool Thing to share with us?
McCartney: I do. Well, recently we went and saw a film, a New Zealand film, called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. And it’s directed by Taika Waititi. Written and directed by Taika Waititi, who wrote Boy, and directed Boy. Directed Boy as well? Yes. And starred in Boy as well. And I think he’s about to direct the new Thor.
And it’s about a little kid, a foster kid, who gets taken into the New Zealand wilderness. And one of his new foster parents is Sam Neill, who plays this kind of quiet, I don’t know, how do you describe him?
McLennan: He’s an ex-criminal.
McCartney: He’s an ex-criminal. That’s right. And they get lost in the wilderness together.
McLennan: An illiterate ex-criminal, which is always fun.
McCartney: I mean, I’m not selling it terribly well, because obviously I’m not very good at pitching, which is great for our careers. But it’s honestly one of the best family films I’ve ever seen. And one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I absolutely loved it.
Craig: Say the title again.
McCartney: Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Like Wilder beast.
Craig: Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
McCartney: Yeah. Go and see it. I don’t know if it’s here. Good luck.
McLennan: It will come here.
Craig: Maybe we can get it on Spin Stream or whatever that —
McCartney: It’s so good.
McLennan: Yeah, I have a One Cool Thing. It’s a video that I keep sharing in Australia.
McCartney: Oh my god. It’s so good. I know what you’re talking about.
McLennan: It’s by these guys called Cope St. So Cope and then Street. And these indigenous comedians who work out of Sydney. And they do a beautiful makeup tutorial. And it’s this guy called Bjorn does this tutorial on how to do blackface.
Craig: Oh my god. That’s awesome.
McCartney: It’s so good.
McLennan: It has a delightful ending, which I will not reveal. And unfortunately we’ve had the need to share it a couple of times because —
McCartney: Because people in Australia keep doing blackface.
McLennan: People in Australia just don’t —
Craig: You mean not ironically?
McLennan: No, they just don’t understand.
Craig: They don’t get that it’s probably not a good idea.
McCartney: No. No.
McLennan: It’s like we’re in 1963 in Australia sometimes.
McCartney: Yeah, so every time that happens, and it has been happening with alarming regularity, McLennan just goes, Post.
McLennan: Yeah, share this post. And it’s very funny.
Craig: Here you go. Watch this video.
McLennan: But even, you know, aside from the message in the video, it’s just quite delightful.
McCartney: Oh, it’s so funny.
McLennan: It’s a piece of Internet silliness.
John: Well, it’s fascinating because Australia does exist — your decades were different than our decades. We had certainly things that overlapped, but we had situations come up in the US that you just didn’t have the equivalent thing there. And so issues are going to come up at different times. I wonder if that’s going to go away now that we’re all so connected by sort of a shared culture of TV, of Internet, of everything happening so quickly.
McCartney: Possibly. But, I mean, every country has its different history, and that sort of informs everything. So, I think, there will be pigs in troughs at different times according to what hits home with everyone’s kind of particular set of issues.
McLennan: Yeah, I don’t think we’re as far ahead as you guys are. So people don’t have as much of a voice I think.
Craig: I don’t think you quite get how —
McLennan: I know what I’m saying.
McCartney: Yeah. Yeah. We know what you say. Yeah, we get a lot of your news. We know.
Craig: No, actually, I think this is a great opportunity — we never talk about politics on the show, but I do think we have international guests. That our country has a rare opportunity to look pretty good to the rest of the world. Just give us a few months.
John: Give us a few months.
Craig: But I think you’ll be happy. Just give us a few months.
McLennan: Okay, good. We’re a little worried at the moment. I must admit.
McCartney: I’m not going to lie. We’re a little concerned for you guys. Are you guys okay?
Craig: In a few months, we’ll either be happy or we’ll all be dead.
John: You’ll be holding back our hair as we’re going over the toilet bowl, you know.
McLennan: We’ll have a podcast in Australia. And you guys can come over. Like what can we do for you?
John: [laughs] Absolutely. Now that your country is a wasteland.
McLennan: We can get you four weeks a year writing on a morning show. What do you say?
Craig: Yes. We’ll take that.
John: Guys, thank you so much for joining us.
McCartney: Oh my gosh. Thanks for having us.
Craig: Kate and Kate, woo.
John: Our show, as always, is produced by Stuart Friedel. Our editing is done by the brilliant Matthew Chilelli. Thank you, Matthew. Our outro this week comes from Rajesh Naroth. Thank you, Rajesh. If you have an outro for us that you’d like us to play at the end of our show, you can write into firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also the email for questions and such things.
On Twitter, I am @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. What are you guys at on Twitter?
McCartney: I’m @tigervsshark.
McLennan: Ah, see now I just sound boring. I’m @kateMcLennan1.
John: That’s amazing. How does @kateMcLennan not 1 feel about your existence?
McLennan: I think she’s a Mormon ukulele singer somewhere in the Midwest. And she’s doing fine.
Craig: She’s doing great. I kind of like the idea that there was no other one. You just like really like the idea of sticking a 1 on there.
McLennan: I’m number 1. Number 1. It could potentially have been. I could have just presumed that my name was gone and just, “I’ll go for 1.” I got it.
Craig: [laughs] That’s the ultimate tall poppy syndrome.
John: Oh, absolutely. You’re typing it in like, “I’m only going to try to type one thing into the little box. Oh, I got it.”
Craig: I got it. Yay. @Tigervsshark and @KateMcLennan1.
John: It’s such a pleasure. Thank you guys so much for coming in.
McCartney: Oh, thank you.
Craig: Thanks guys.
- The Katering Show
- Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney on Twitter
- Watch season 2 of The Katering Show on Fullscreen
- Dance Academy, and on Wikipedia
- Tall poppy syndrome on Wikipedia
- Catastrophe on Amazon Prime
- Duqqa on Wikipedia
- Mini Metro and Human Resource Machine
- Sunspring, a short film written by Benjamin
- The Shaggs on Wikipedia
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople is playing at Arclight Hollywood starting June 23
- Cope St Collective’s Bjorn on how to do blackface
- Outro by Rajesh Naroth (send us yours!)