Leigh Hart's latest comedic outing Late Night Big Breakfast is one of the best things on television, but it pretends to be the worst, writes Paul Casserly.

In Leigh Hart's latest comedic outing - a twisted replica of Good Morning called The Late Night Big Breakfast - the guests stare off in bemused confusion as the tinder dry comic team of Hart, Jeremy Wells and Jason Hoyt riff madly on subjects that veer from soft furnishings to "anal seepage".

The "seepage" exchange was with an alleged "family health advocate" and was as inappropriate as anything you'll see on TV, outside of the Family Health Diaries, to which this oddly engaging show owes much.

This is comedy inspired by the works of Mary Lambie, by the powers of magnetic underlays and by the sort of easy listening music performed in rest homes. It's informed by infomercials.

It's also one of the best things on TV, pretending to be one of the worst, and is a refreshingly unpredictable squall in the current dull climate of risk adverse programming.


Hart is a master at having a bob each way, appearing to be dishing out a scathing critique on consumer mad TV, while at the same time being un-ashamedly commercial and mercenary. His own beer label Wakachangi even has an extended plug that seems like a gag.

He also takes aim at TV One's marquee show/brand Masterchef with a parody, "Master Cook", which made some sharp observations about the overuse of the diary-cam type recap interviews that plague reality TV like a particularly virulent strain of Ebola.

"I'm really feeling under pressure, in the kitchen and having to do these diary cams", laments Hoyte during a "quiche challenge" with Hart and guest contestant Jax Hamilton from Masterchef.

Wells, meanwhile, is also doing the diary cam despite playing a judge and successfully channeling Josh Emett ; "I'm not sure why I'm doing these diary cams, seems like a waste of my time."

And that's what TLNBB is, a glorious waste of our time.

I was pleased to see personal bug bear of mine - advertisements for "pre-planned funerals" - getting a good lashing in a faux infomercial for "The Late Night Big Breakfast Funeral Plan" which offers to eliminate "worry and unwelcomed gatecrashers, or stress about inferior finger food".

Low-level celebs and "experts" are dragged in to take part in the absurd circus, but unlike other shows there are moments when they are actually shocked out of their deadpan play-acting. The overuse of celebrities in comedy has reached epic proportions, so I appreciate any twist on the routine.

Hoyte is the master of deploying a "f***" to great comic effect, and he made Jax from Masterchef jump as he expressed four lettered shock at a quiche lorraine. He also seriously startled Nadia Lim in a recent segment in which he yelled at her to "cook me some f****** eggs".

But Well's "anal seepage" and "discharge" riff has so far taken the unsavory comedic cake. I can see the letter in the TV Guide now. It begins with the words: "Shame on you TVNZ ..."

But most of TLNBB isn't about crossing the line. it's about moving it. You're never quite sure where you are with Hart, or who is in on the joke, or even what the joke actually is. Thankfully you can count on the fact if something is starting to drag - and laboured gags are stock in trade here - someone will soon interject with a "Can I just interrupt you ..." before taking you off on another merry dance.

TVNZ has any number of things to be ashamed of, but The Late Night Big Breakfast is nowhere near the top of the list.

Speaking of which, what would make your list of things TVNZ should be ashamed about?

* The Late Night Big Breakfast, TV1, Thursdays at 10.10pm, Fridays 11.10pm.