Massage My Medium (Or How to Save TV in 55 minutes)

Massage My Medium (Or How to Save TV in 55 minutes)Television is dead, long live television!

The tagline is 'How to Save TV in 55 minutes', but that's just to get your attention. Massage My Medium separates TV from the TV industry and explores why the medium is thriving while the industry is dying.

Creators Dan Ilic and Marc Fennell are both deeply passionate about media and invested in its future. They describe their show as a 'comedic lecture'; an attempt to make serious points while serving up laughs through spot-on satire and observational humour.

It's a format that works brilliantly. Both performers are dynamic, multi-talented and utterly charming. A high-energy mix of performance routines, video mashups and tag-team dialogue grab the audience immediately and don't let go for the full duration of the show.

You may be familiar with Ilic and Fennell's work already. The well-publicised parody of the Freeview ad that was doing the rounds earlier this year - that was them. The spoof of the infamous 'Where the bloody hell are you?' Tourism Australia ad - that was them too.

Dan Ilic has plenty of form as a satirist and impressionist; he was a regular on Ronnie Johns Half Hour and has appeared in several of political activist group GetUp!'s video campaigns. Marc Fennell is a broadcaster on Triple J where he hosts the film segment Flicked and was also a co-presenter on SBS' The Movie Show.

The pair are no strangers to the inner workings of the TV industry and their satire is all the more biting given they have evidently decided to set their sights on an out-of-touch industry only interested in making TV for 'Betty from Belgrave'.

With a nod to The West Wing, they tell the sad story of great TV shows Australian networks have destroyed by moving their timeslot every other week. They show how networks consistently rip off ideas from each other and from overseas. They explore how TV networks present themselves and have a good long laugh at 'station idents' both recent and from decades past.

On this particular night, Glenn Robbins made a special guest appearance and talked about his experiences in the industry, including an amusing yet harrowing tale of how he nearly died once filming a scene in an ultralight plane. Special guests appearing other nights have or will include Wil Anderson, Dicko and Ed Kavalee.

Interestingly, Glenn Robbins says he hardly watches any TV these days, preferring to buy seasons of his favourite shows on iTunes. It's a telling revelation from a TV industry veteran and part of a theme revisited throughout the show. Massage My Medium is really a pre-emptive obituary for the dying TV industry and an ode to the rampant, grassroots creativity unleashed by the internet that Ilic and Fennell see as the final nail in its coffin.

For creative geeks with an interest in media, this is pure porn, and that's before the explanation of BitTorrent and several jokes at the expense of Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy, a figure reviled and regularly lampooned by the geek community for the government's plan to censor the internet.

The latter part of the show is about the ways in which the internet is changing the media landscape. Ilic and Fennell observe that advertising, the financial backbone of the TV industry, has found a new home online and has had to evolve to be as entertaining as traditional content. They dissect the nature of viral videos and how feasible it is to make a living as an online TV producer.

It's fascinating, well-researched stuff, peppered with examples, insider anecdotes and glib one-liners. Without giving too much away, the ending will certainly make you think.

Massage My Medium is a thoroughly enjoyable hour for anyone with an interest in media. No matter what you think of it all, Dan Ilic and Marc Fennell's enthusiasm and optimism are sure to rub off and you will leave with fresh insights and a new way of looking at things.

It can only be hoped that the duo will take the show on the road around the country because this really is a story that no Australian can afford to miss.

Marc Fennell & Dan Ilic in
Massage My Medium (Or How to Save TV in 55 minutes)

Venue: Arthur's Bar at Rosati | 95 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (Licensed venue. Under 18s must be accompanied by a Parent or Legal Guardian)
Dates: 21 - 26 April
Times: Tue-Sat 8.15pm, Sun 7.15pm
Duration: 55 minutes
Prices: Full $25, Concession $15
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 | at the door

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