Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Mystique Of The Chaser

The Mystique Of The Chaser

By Reiko Bell
The Spirit News
November 24, 2077

The Chaser were an Australian satirical comedy group. They are known for their television programmes on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation channel. The group take their name from their production of satirical newspaper, a publication known to challenge conventions of taste. The group's motto is "Striving for Mediocrity in a World of Excellence".

The Chaser's earliest foundations were Charles Firth, Dominic Knight, and Chas Licciardello who went to Sydney Grammar School together and produced a small satirical school magazine The Tiger. Then Firth, Knight and Licciardello met Craig Reucassel, Andrew Hansen and Julian Morrow at the University of Sydney. Chris Taylor also attended the University of Sydney but never knew the others during that time. Licciardello, Knight, Reucassel and Morrow all studied law at the Sydney Law School and Firth, Taylor and Hansen all studied in the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts. Firth and Hansen featured in the ABC documentary called "Uni" by film-maker Simon Target. Firth and Hansen organised the University of Sydney Arts Revue and Firth, Knight, Reucassel and Morrow wrote for the University of Sydney student newspaper Honi Soit. In 1999 the four members began The Chaser and their first newspaper project entitled The Chaser.

The Chaser team gained notoriety and considerable media attention over "The Eulogy Song", written by Chris Taylor and performed by Andrew Hansen on 17 October 2007 episode of The Chaser's War On Everything. The song satirised the media's posthumous praise of deceased celebrities, regardless of their behaviour in life, and mentioned among others John Lennon, Peter Brock, Stan Zemanek, Princess Diana, Steve Irwin, Donald Bradman, and Kerry Packer. The song attracted comment from both the media and politicians including Kevin Rudd and John Howard, the latter of whom used reference to the song in remarks during a sketch later aired on the programme.

Morrow and Licciardello were arrested by NSW Police on 6 September 2007 outside the InterContinental Hotel after driving a fake motorcade through the Sydney central business district and breaching an APEC security zone. The Chaser crew entered a secure area by masquerading as the motorcade of the Canadian delegation to APEC. They were arrested by police after Licciardello emerged from the car dressed as Osama bin Laden, near the hotel where U.S. President George W. Bush was staying. They were subsequently detained, taken to Surry Hills Police Station for questioning and charged with "entering a restricted area without special justification" under the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act 2007. Licciardello, Morrow and the nine other production members were released on bail to appear in court on 4 October 2007. If found guilty, they were liable to serve a maximum 6 months imprisonment, or a maximum 2 years imprisonment if they also had possession or control of a prohibited item with no special justification. The Chaser team issued a statement on 6 September that they had been given permission by police officers to enter the restricted area. Under section 37(2)(b) of the legislation a person has special justification to be in an area if "the person is required, authorised or permitted to be in the area by the Commissioner or a police officer". Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned until 5 December 2007 at the request of ABC lawyers. The charges were dropped near the end of April 2008.

The day after the APEC stunt, police questioned Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor and Dominic Knight and a film crew from the Chaser after they were involved in a second stunt in central Sydney. The three were released by police after being briefly questioned for carrying around black cardboard boxes dressed up as limousines.