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Melanie Bracewell talks dogs and plumbers as The Cheap Seats returns to cover the important stories

The Cheap Seats coming soon

Source: Channel Ten

New Zealand stand-up comedian Melanie Bracewell and her co-host Tim McDonald took a very superficial look at news and current affairs on Ten’s surprise hit panel show, The Cheap Seats, last year.

The pair opted to cover stories that made the news for the wrong reasons, like the one about the noisy mating koalas in a Gold Coast backyard, the reporter who couldn’t hit a golf ball during a sports segment, or how Australia Zoo’s Robert Irwin admitted wombats want to kill him.

Then there was the classic 2023 highlight when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was cornered at the desk to sign Bracewell’s citizenship papers.

The 28-year-old, who rose to international fame after impersonating former NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern got panicky when her radio microphone battery fell out, and she dropped the F-bomb live on air.

“We offer something a little different,” said Bracewell, who was handpicked by Working Dog Productions after stints on Ten’s flagship panel show Have You Been Paying Attention?.

“We are combing so hard through every single facet of the news, we spend a long time watching Sunrise [Seven breakfast TV show] at three-times speed, and find 10 seconds to fill the show.

“It’s one of those fast-paced shows that people enjoy, because they can sit back and relax and not have to think so hard.

“The appeal is that it’s comedy, and you don’t have to worry about us having any political satirical bite … hopefully it’s just the funniest things we can find.”

For the uninitiated, it has been boldly compared to Media Watch meets Love Island.

“We’re taking the same lens and applying it to the stupidest things you’re seeing on television,” she said.

The pair even brainstormed their ‘Reporter of the Year’ award last year, handing a gold-plated microphone trophy to the Seven Network’s Mackay-based Janine Jacobson for her innovative reporting style (doing the chicken dance with Bluey was a cute highlight).

“The show is never the story itself, but often the media coverage of the story and how silly it is,” she added.

Fresh face

Bracewell may well be a relative unknown and a so-called “fresh face” in Australia, but she has been a serious player on the comedy scene for years.

She blogged as a 15-year-old before making her mark as a writer alongside Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder, Jojo Rabbit) on the mockumentary comedy horror show Wellington Paranormal, as well as other local productions including 7 Days, Mean Mums and Have you Been Paying Attention?.

She’s done stand-up at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York and Montreal, sold out her Forget Me Not shows, boasts a six-year tenure at Radio Hauraki and won last year’s Taskmaster NZ.

“It does help when you come to Australia and they go, wow, here’s this fresh face we’re introducing and people don’t know you’ve done 20 panel shows before,” she laughed with The New Daily in an interrupted phone chat, which, she agrees, could almost be a segment on the show, or in her stand-up routine.

A plumber knocks at her door to fix a leaking tap, which triggers her Maltese Shih Tzu Charles to bark … and bark, and he won’t shut up.

“OK, sorry, I just have to let a plumber in … OK, back in the room.”

“I think most of my stand-up stuff is usually my personal stories,” she previously told stuff.co.nz.

Tim McDonald and Melanie Bracewell watch the news closely, to find the stories for their show. Photo: Twitter/Ten/The Cheap Seats

‘A Reader’s Digest of world events’

So what’s on the running sheet this year?

Ten says The Cheap Seats will continue to take a comic look back at the week that was.

“Major news stories, not-so-major news stories, stories involving cats, entertainment, sport, viral videos – it’s a Reader’s Digest of world events for a generation who simply don’t want to read.”

If it was broadcast, released, published, viewed, shared, clicked on or simply trending for 30 seconds, then it’s likely to be a part of the show.

Cultural correspondent Mel Tracina will return and we’ll get to enjoy all new instalments of Mel’s Markets, Timfomercials, Across The Ditch and What’s On What’s On In The Warehouse.

McDonald says “it will be a year of big events, from the Olympics in Paris to the US election … I think there’s even a pickleball tournament in Launceston.

“We’ve got it all covered.”

The Cheap Seats premieres on Tuesday, April 30 at 8.30pm on 10 and 10Play

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