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Australia’s first animated sketch comedy

Producer Ariel Waymouth was pulled back into the world of animation when she got wind of Suspect Moustache, a series that was as outrageous as it was funny.

Suspect Moustache

When producer Ariel Waymouth came across Suspect Moustache, she encountered a comedy series unlike anything she had seen in Australian animation.

It’s the kind of series where nothing is off limits, from race to religion. Where storks contemplate who delivered them and where Jesus is asked why he’s white.

<h6>Ariel Waymouth</h6><p>Producer, <em>Suspect Moustache</em></p>
Ariel Waymouth

Producer, Suspect Moustache

Australia’s first animated sketch comedy gleefully dashes through time and topics, hurling jokes – and plenty of them, now that it’s grown from last year’s five-minute pilot for SBS Comedy Runway into a five-episode series.

Last year that pilot, created from the mind of Fabian Lapham and produced by Viskatoons Animation, caught the eye of Waymouth. She had been working on and off in animation for the past 20 years, but was then in the ‘off’ stage.

“I thought it was just so crazy and fast-moving. It pushes the boundaries. It’s one of those shows where you can watch it over and over to pick up all the little nuances,” she says.

Waymouth, backed by Viskatoons, saw a great opportunity to raise some finance and turn it into a web series – an idea which Screen Australia, and then Film Victoria and SBS supported.

“This is the show that brought me back into animation because I thought it was so great and out there,” she says. “Plus being able to work with Fabian Lapham and Viskatoons was a fantastic opportunity.”

Adult animation is not a new concept. The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, BoJack Horseman, Archer, Happy Tree Friends, Aqua Teen Hunger Force – these are all series in various styles and tones that either appeal to, or are targeted at, a demographic not traditionally matched with animation.

"There’s a lot that come out of America but they’re not really supported here in Australia,” Waymouth says.

“It was a bit of a risk I guess for Screen Australia, Film Victoria and SBS to support us.”

But Ariel says animation has several advantages over live action.

<h6>Fabian Lapham</h6><p>Creator, <em>Suspect Moustache</em></p>
Fabian Lapham

Creator, Suspect Moustache

Firstly, it can go places and say things live action can’t.

“You’re only limited by your imagination,” she says.

“With live action there’s no way we would be able to go to all these different worlds. With animation we can go anywhere and we can be as crazy and as weird as we need to be for Fabian’s twisted gags.”

And secondly, you can get away with saying and satirising things that you never could elsewhere.

“It’s a softer blow if it’s a cute character saying something harsh,” Waymouth says.

Even the character design wouldn’t have worked in live action, where it would have been impossible to show a flaming tornado running for mayor, or dinosaurs sending their baby to space.

These various characters were designed by Sacha Bryning, who based them on Lapham’s original sketches. Meanwhile actors including Aaron Pedersen (Goldstone, Jack Irish) and Mahalia Brown (The Wizards of Aus, Utopia) and Demi Lardner (Open Slather) signed up to provide the voices. And then it was up to the team of animators at Viskatoons to bring it all to life.

The 5×5 minute episodes were broadcast as one 26-minute episode on SBS2 and are now available On Demand. But that’s not where their journey will stop.

Waymouth says they created up to 15 minutes of extra sketches that they will be sharing on Suspect Moustache’s YouTube channel, which will also have the entire series available after June 30.

And the beauty of sketch comedy is it works hand-in-hand with social media.

“Each sketch works as part of an episode, but they also stand alone, so we’ll be breaking those up and sharing them around the world on social media,” she says.

But their first aim is to conquer Australia, then they can look at the world. It’s important to take baby steps in global animation domination.

Suspect Moustache is available on SBS On Demand and will launch on YouTube on June 30.