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Dominic Knight - Writer, The Chaser

At any one time, various members of satirical supergroup The Chaser are popping up on television, on stage, on the radio, online, in print … they even find the time to write the occasional book or play and their own theme songs. Then there are those times that he Chasers themselves are the news: selling (fake) knuckle-dusters at Canterbury football matches, printing the Prime Minister’s home phone number on the front page of their newspaper and sending a Leunig cartoon off to an Iranian Holocaust cartoon competition.

As a group, and individually, they’ve kept very busy and kept us wanting even more. Dominic has been part of the team since its inception in 1999 and is no exception. As well as working for The Chaser, Dominic blogs about all things newsworthy for the Sydney Morning Herald’s Radar section. This is his story.

How did the idea for a satirical newspaper come about?
Charles Firth was finishing his arts degree and wanted to avoid getting a real job. He wanted to recreate the fun he’d had editing Honi Soit (the student newspaper of the University of Sydney) on a professional basis, and is terrifyingly good at convincing his friends to do things. Charles has been a lifelong fan of news satire, even going back to high school, but the idea of The Chaser wasn’t just to be satirical. It was supposed to be an alternative newspaper with quality features, reviews, media and politics gossip and analysis, and so on. The satirical bits were slightly less awful, so we kind of gradually abandoned the rest.

Did you think you could make a career out of it at that point?
No, I thought I’d have to get a ‘real job’. It didn’t really occur to us that you could actually earn a living writing comedy. And it still somehow doesn’t seem right that we get paid for doing it.

What was it that took the Chaser team to the next level?
Virtually no-one read our newspaper, but some of the very few people that did were comedy people; largely because we self-promotingly sent it to them. Andrew Denton was kind enough to actually read it, and inexplicably decided he’d like to work with us on a TV show. A truly remarkable stroke of luck.

Where do you get your ideas?
Almost exclusively from the news. I’m not particularly interested in, or good at, observational stuff, or stuff about my life.

How do you find the time to do as much as you do?
Insomnia and neglect of those dear to us.

What do you do in a typical day?
Every day’s reasonably different, but will generally involve some mix of blogging, endless emails, writing, phone calls and TV script meetings that drag on forever.

How many hours do you work per day?
Between four and 14, depending on what’s due.

Is anything sacred when it comes to comedy, according to your own principles?
We don’t have any hard-and-fast rules, but generally we try and target our more potentially offensive material at those who we feel deserve it.

Where to from here?
Embittered acrimony, as ultimately happens to all comedy groups. It's just a question of how much we can milk this before it inevitably happens.

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