The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 31 December 1997.

Funny about that

GOOD News Week's regular panelist Mikey Robins is amazed the program has thrived in a year which has been full of bad news.

The Thredbo tragedy and the death of Princess Diana stand out.

"It's been a horrific year and you can't try to suddenly turn inherently tragic events into something funny," Robins said.

"Fortunately, the Good News Week writers have constructed comments on those events, particularly in the opening monologues, thaat capture the absurdity of the moment without dipping into material that degrades the tragedy."

Robins shars the spotlight on the Friday night cult show with host Paul McDermott.

The former Doug Anthony All Star returned the favour by teaming up with Robins for the 2JJJ breakfast shift.

Robins will return to the shift next year but McDermott will not.

"Paul's probably one of the quickest thinkers on his feet that I've ever met," Robins says.

"He's also one of the few people who can make me laugh out loud."

Before Good News Week, Robins was a regular on McFeast.

He says the irrepressible Elle is a very different creature from McDermott.

"Elle works best when she has a victim - a bit like Norman Gunston used to work," he said.

"When she bales up a politician who's terrified of her, she's hysterically funny."

The political satire of McFeast proved a godsend when Robins was picked for Good News Wee.

"It really made me hone my current affairs knowledge," he said. "I used to read the paper and watch the news, but now I read at least three newspapers a day, and watch three hours of news and current affairs a night, from the start of Ten's 5pm news to the end of The 7.3 Report on the ABC.'

Robins says his role on Good News Week is to help the guest panelists, who have included entertainers Magda Szubanski, Gary and Joanna Sweet, Kate Fischer and ACTU boss Jennie George, feel comfortable.

"I tell them not to worry about having to be funny, which helps them relax," Robins said.

The greatest surprise, according to Robins, has been poet Margaret Scott.

"When they first mentioned she would be on the show, I thought: 'A poet from Tasmania - are you sure you know what you're doing?. But she has turned out to be fantastic.

Every time she's on it's an absolute joy."

Though Robins says he feels embarrassed every time he sees himself described as a comedian, he has the pedigree.

His father, Bill, was a part-time stand-up comedian in Newcastle clubs before he died when Robins was 10.

"I never for a chance to see him do his act," Robins said.

"I remember my father as a funny man and that you got attention in our house by making people laugh."

Now, as the TV program draws to a close for 1997 with a special, Good News Eve, Robins is looking foward to a well-earned break.

"I'm pretty tired," he said.

"I will have done 42 weeks of Good News Week, plus my radio show, which means getting up at 4.30 each morning.

"I've had a ball, but I need a good holiday."

Good News Eve airs tonight at 8pm on ABC-TV

-By Colin Vickery

Typed up by ktwong.