Features Australia

The importance of being Karl

Why we fell out of love with the reinstated Today host

1 February 2020

9:00 AM

1 February 2020

9:00 AM

First we loved Karl. Then we hated him. But that was a mistake and we weren’t really sure what our real feelings were, so like an old girlfriend we’re back with him on Today again and now we’re all playing nice but aren’t sure why. Does anyone care or are we just back with him for the sex?

But this new Karl isn’t the Karl we remember. While the old Karl wore the same suit on set for a year to see if anybody noticed – just to show his feminine side and impress Lisa. This new Karl is all bolshie with a buzz cut and a bit more weight around the neck like a rugby player receiving an award for best receiver or a suspended prison sentence for aggravated assault. He’s monstering ScoMo over the bushfires and editorialising like some drunk socialist in a burgundy sports blazer about the dangers of capitalism.

You feel like he should be hanging out at the cricket with Noam Chomsky if Noam Chomsky wasn’t dead and there was any summer cricket to watch. Maybe Bernie Sanders but Bernie’s busy at the moment and despite current appearance isn’t dead either. Karl should fly over and interview him or Hillary if she decides to run. They could talk about impossible comebacks and not really being able to let things go – like political ambitions, television careers and unfaithful presidents that  get lifts on Jeffrey Epstein’s private sex jet.

I blame Nine for Karl’s political liposuction. He’s so off-the-dial ‘woke’ and feminist now you think he should be out getting pissed with Clementine Ford at a hole-in-your-head all-you-can-eat in Fitzroy or shouting abuse at the staff when out checking the David Jones same-sex bridal registry with Van Badham, or maybe a gender reveal party with Catherine Deveney where all the bachelorettes look distressed and scream ‘Abort It!’ when the blue balloons are released.

With all this leftism going on, you sort of think Karl and Albo could be mates too and at the moment this is a very good thing for Karl if not Albo, as Albo’s preferred PM figures go up and Karl’s Today ratings go down into the sub-200,000 death zone. Maybe they could go DJ-ing together Fat Boy Slim-style?

God how we miss the old Drunk Karl days. Recently a New Zealander asked me who is Karl and why did he go away and why is he back and someone – a Non-Karl new puritan who worships at the Church of Kochie now that Virginia has left morning ABC TV which is a national tragedy – explained disapprovingly; ‘well he was once pissed on set, during the post-Logie morning after program’.


Like there was something wrong with that: after all didn’t Cold Chisel once smash up their guitars during the TV Week Pop Awards and they are the greatest Australian band of all time? (though, I see the Sunday Herald-Sun recently and insanely rated them an un-Australian 14 after Air Supply, the Seekers and a defibrillated Wiggles).

Ah yes, I wistfully replied, he used to get drunk after the Logies, and heroically with Dickie Wilkins too, drinking tequilas at his expensive Mexico wedding which was held in Los Cabos and not on a green screen in a dingy Willoughby car park where they keep the cryogenically frozen heads of Kerry Packer and Walt Disney like the conspiracy theorists think.

Whatever happened to that Karl? The one we all loved. Did they leave him at Los Angeles airport in amongst Dickie’s luggage and duty-free hair product? I see Dickie’s still on air and his hair looked bigger and even more wonderful during that interview with Mariah Carey though Mariah’s breasts were larger than I remember when she was dating James.

Lisa is long gone, off political ambulance-chasing on the ratings-plummeting The Project with Waleed, the stand-up comedian and the woman who did the advertisement for Garnier skin cream where they all beat up Steve Price for not liking Jacinda. But he deserves it, have you seen what Steve Price’s skin looks like?

Good for her. Lisa used to knock Karl into shape as well in the old days – with a withering look or a cut-glass grin with capped teeth that could devour you like a Great White shark. They claimed that they were great mates but really it was more like a heavily co-dependent mother-son relationship where your son is earning four times more than you are and he doesn’t change his clothes for a year to see if you’ll notice.

Lisa left for money and who can blame her. Karl came back for the money and who can blame him?

Karl is now paired up with Allison but even though she is younger she seems to have worked him out. She seems more eager, more hungry for the job – more fitter. But that could be because of Karl’s fat neck issue. Maybe she’s been getting the low-down from Lisa at the special harbour views restaurant owned by the celebrity chef from Masterchef where all other celebrities go for their secret meetings that no one knows about except the gossip writers from the Tele.

The one where you can only order quinoa, water and bottled Gwyneth Paltrow urine and you’re actually expected to be happy about this while negotiating your guest spot on My Kitchen Rules if they can get the new format right and Pete Evans can stop mistaking himself for a qualified doctor and giving advice on whether to vaccinate your child.

New Karl the anti-drunk seems so strangely docile in those new promotional advertisements with Allison, like he’s been injected with elephant tranquilizers by nervous studio executives before going on air.

He ridicules his own achievements with lame Dad jokes that prove he is in fact a Dad not some inebriated night-clubber out when Dickie’s on the tear with a hot blonde and a hairpiece.

Allison asks if he’s been shot at and he’s says, ‘yes at a photo-shoot’ and they both playfully laugh.

But she’s toying with him. He talks about his Grumpy Cat interview like it’s the greatest thing he ever did, which let’s face it, it probably is. But his heart isn’t really in it, you can tell. He seems a broken man.

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