It’s not a holiday. It’s a Gap Year. It’s not a holiday.
So said Hamish Blake and Andy Lee in their own hokey theme song on their new Channel Nine variety show.
Perfect harmonies? Hardly. But that’s just the relaxed approach that has made these boys so successful. To blokes they are perfect drinking buddies. To women they are the guys to take home to mum.
In the first episode of their anticipated new series in New York City the boys greeted us from a warehouse setting in Brooklyn. They had all the trappings of a traditional Tonight show: host desk (sorta), a band (sorta), skyline (sorta), and studio audience, but with an undergrad twist fitting with their style.
There was a giant Statue of Liberty, an open staircase, and a ‘Busker-teers’ band with two saxophone players and a drummer. The audience, we have been told, is made up of many expats -it was hard to see them.
Hamish & Andy were dressed in tuxedo track suits -“the traxido’- and sneakers. Their opening repartee was casual, and with the appearance of veering off script (hmm, or was it?).
Amid their larrikin humour there were Hamish & Andy bobbleheads, an R2ToDo robot and Hamish’s’ Thursday 8:30′ tattoo on his arm. “Timeslots are for life!” he boasted. They are if you rate, which was kinda the point.
The audio in the plastics factory-turned-studio was poor and echoed around the room.
Video packages throughout the show included a “noodling” expedition for catfish in Oklahoma which resulted in a permit warning from the local sherriff, a visit to building resident Oscar (who will presumably become a regular) and a candid camera-style sequence of the boys falling asleep in front of surprised New Yorkers. The latter package fell flat.
There were two interview guests, Taylor Swift, who sang an impromptu “Chaperone Dad” song and a quick-witted Neil Patrick “Thanks for having me dead last on your show” Harris. He was a good sport at the odd notion of becoming Neil Patrick Harrison Ford and parodying Raiders of the Lost Ark. The boys won’t win any prizes for their interview skills, but it’s more about the chemistry they can demonstrate with their guests and on that front they get a tick.
Just as Flight of the Conchords did with New Zealanders, the show works best when it gives us an Australian perspective of America, where everything is big, bizarre and driven by celebrity. The country is often accused of lacking irony and these boys are well-placed to bring some to the table.
For a first effort the show met the brief, but at the moment it feels like a late night show squeezed into a primetime slot. Is it possible to succeed at 8:30 with a 10:30 tone? We’ll know soon enough. I’m prepared to watch and find out.
Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year airs 8:30pm Thursdays on Nine.