tv

Hamish and Andy have broken a major TV rule without meaning to.

No one loves Hamish and Andy like I love Hamish and Andy. That’s a fact.

I listen to the podcast of their radio show every day. I’ve watched videos of Sonny Blake describing his watermelon as ‘nice and juicy’ more times than I can count.

I’m acutely aware of Andy’s birthday (and how he’s a bit of a diva about celebrating it), I feel like I personally joined them for all their gap years.

I’m even a fan of Cacklin’ Jack’s recent penchant for memes.

I MUST stop letting him watch Are You Being Served. #niceandjoosee

A post shared by ZOË FOSTER BLAKE (@zotheysay) on

So, yeah, I guess you could say I was pretty excited for their new TV show to start last night. Me and almost 1.3 million other Australians who tuned in to watch the first episode of True Story.

If you know anything about Hamish and Andy, you’ll know that part of what makes them so brilliant is their enthusiasm for other people’s stories.

‘The People’s Show,’ as they call it, is built on

A) Knowing what will make for a good story (i.e. ‘let’s bet on Andy for Cleo Bachelor of the Year and then buy a greyhound with the winnings’),

and B) knowing how to find a good story (i.e. asking their listeners ‘when did you get caught up in the moment, like when Hamish drank his own sweat from his shoe?’)

Hamish and Andy are also some of the only people on radio who genuinely laugh with each other, and with their callers. Anyone who’s ever had a conversation with another human being will know how much of a difference it makes when the person you’re talking to is laughing with you.

Listen: Clare Stephens and Laura Brodnik explain how Hamish and Andy have broken a major TV rule without meaning to on The Binge. 

Such is the premise of True Story – an original format where real people retell their funny true stories to Hamish and Andy, while they’re reenacted by well-known actors and comedians.

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Last night’s episode was recounted by Rachel, a mum-of-five who was lecturing in Hong Kong when a colleague invited her, and her family, out for dinner.

What followed was a near-unbelievable series of events involving rotten eggs, a peanut allergy, a toddler in a sacred pond and a very disappointed husband.

Social media reactions were divided, with some comments describing the show as “a let down,” and “unfunny,” while others defended it, saying “it was good and will only get better”.

Image via Facebook.
Image via Facebook.

But for all the tweets and comments and reviews weighing in on the premiere - True Story is doing what no other show is on Australian commercial television: it's trying something new. It's a risk, because it's not a game show or reality TV or a relationship drama. It's a format we haven't seen, telling stories we haven't heard, from people we've never met.

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In an age where it seems everything is being resurrected (no one needs goddamn Prison Break or Roseanne to come back, NO ONE), the significance of an original idea can't be overstated.

There are 14 seasons of NCIS, and I think I can say with absolute confidence that literally no one likes NCIS.

Support for shows that push the boundaries and try new ideas is crucial, or the content of network television will get narrower and narrower.

You might think there's a finite number of relationship-rescue-style reality shows BUT THERE ISN'T. THEY JUST KEEP MAKING THEM.

Rachel's True Story perhaps wasn't as outrageous as I expected it to be - but by the end of the show, I realised it didn't matter.

The show was still more surprising and entertaining than anything I've seen for a while, and without even trying to, it broke a long-held TV rule.

Image via Channel Nine.

I've always noticed than men rarely laugh at women on TV.

I've noticed it, of course, because it mirrors what happens in real life. I've often thought that one of the reasons many men say they don't find women funny is because they don't laugh at them, which shakes women's confidence and stops them from taking risks. I've never been less funny than after I tried to say something funny and no one laughed.

But last night, Hamish and Andy sat opposite a middle aged woman, telling a story about a ridiculous dinner with her husband and kids, and they genuinely laughed. They found her story funny and interesting, and in turn, so did (most of) their audience.

And that's the truly powerful part of True Story. It's taking risks, and breaks rules, with Hamish and Andy's signature brand of comedy that's fun rather than cruel and inclusive rather than alienating.

That's a hard find on commercial television, and hopefully a combination that will be warmly rewarded.

For the biggest TV news of the week, listen to the full episode of The Binge here.

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