Actor Josh Lawson Laments Lack Of Comedy Appreciation At AACTA Awards

Noticeably absent from the listed nominees for the 2014 AACTA Awards (hint: not Baz Luhrmann) – formerly the AFIs, now the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts for vague, international credibility reasons – was appropriate recognition for the humble Australian comedy series.

Emulating the creaky hot mess that is the TV Week Logie Awards, which unceremoniously discontinued its Outstanding Comedy a few years back in favour of shoehorning anything “funny” or “entertaining” into its mishmash Light Entertainment category, while inexplicably retaining awards for Reality Program, Lifestyle Program and Sports Program, AACTA, the supposed anti-Logies, has this year due to vague commercial reasons decided to go the way of the Worst Awards Show Ever and combine categories/nominees for best comedy series and best light entertainment series into one. A misstep so infuriating that the industry boy next door Josh Lawson decided to pitch his own TV series called Josh Lawson is Mad As Hell and vent about it on social media.  

The Brisbane-born actor who currently plays Doug Guggenheim in Showtime drama series House of Lies and has featured previously in Will Ferrell comedy films The Campaign and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, took to Facebook last night to lament the “slap in the face for all the hard working, incredibly talented
Australians who work their arses off to make us laugh and help define
our proud and unique sense of humor

His gripes include – but are not limited to – the clumsy merger of two distinctly different categories – “baffling and insulting for both” – the dearth of categories reserved for comedic actors when compared to those reserved for their dramatic brethren, which differentiates between lead/supporting and male/female performances, and the implication that comedy is somehow easier to produce or less worthy of recognition than drama. 

This year’s AACTA nominees for best TV comedy series include The Agony of Life, Gruen Nation, Please Like Me, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell and Upper Middle Bogan. The nominees for best performance in a TV comedy series include Lisa McCune for It’s a Date, Shaun Micallef for Mad As Hell, Robyn Nevin for Upper Middle Bogan and Josh Thomas for Please Like Me.

By its own charter, AACTA is obliged to recognise all forms of film and television excellence, something they MUST abide by if they’ve any chance of being the Australian version of the BAFTAs or the Golden Globe Awards.

At the moment, they are failing spectacularly.

Read his missive in full below…

“And once again Australian Television Comedy is already snubbed by the AACTAs. I rarely get “political” on social media, but here goes… 

Bafflingly and insultingly for both categories, Comedy is combined with Light Entertainment. And only one comedy acting category compared with FOUR for drama. No gender distinction for comedy, no lead or supporting differentiation. And if it’s anything like previous years, the comedy awards will likely be given out on the NON televised night. 

What are we to take away from this – that comedy is somehow easier? That people who work on comedies don’t work as hard? That actors who do comedy aren’t as talented or as deserving of accolades? What a slap in the face for all the hard working, incredibly talented Australians who work their arses off to make us laugh and help define our proud and unique sense of humor? 

The Golden Globes, The Emmy’s, The BAFTAs – all have separate comedy and light entertainment categories, and all have gender distinctions in their comedy awards. Why not us? 

Australian television comedy – you’re just too damn good not to be recognized fairly. We, the people love and appreciate you, even if the AACTAs don’t. 

If you agree, please feel free to write a (polite) message on the AACTA Facebook page. Let’s make a change. 


UPDATE: The CEO for ACCTA Damian Trewhellan spoke to Inside Film Magazine about Josh’s comments, citing a lack of funding as the reason Award categories have been combined and reduced.

“We did have standalone awards
(for comedy and light entertainment) but we had to combine them against
our best wishes in a rationalisation,” Trewhellan said. “There has been some
strong work in comedy this year. As an industry we have to find a way to
support these categories.”

The 3rd Annual AACTA Awards Ceremony will be held on January 30, 2014 .