Prior to his hosting the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras this year, SBS threw Joel Creasey a curve ball.
“I got a call asking ‘Do you want to do Eurovision?’ And I said ‘Absolutely!’” he recalls.
“Then they called again and said ‘What about Myf Warhurst?’ and I said ‘Yes! She’s the most logical decision!’
“We didn’t really know each other that well but we did a test together and it was meant to be.
“Why didn’t I think of Myf Warhurst immediately? She is exactly who should be hosting Eurovision.”
The rest, as they say, is history with a new generation of hosts for the Australian broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest.
“I’m there for all things campery”
Both are now on the ground in Kyiv, Ukraine, ahead of the first Semi Final this Wednesday morning, Australian time.
But Creasey knows following 8 years of Julia Zemiro & Sam Pang are big shoes to fill.
“Massive shoes to fill! I grew up adoring Julia Zemiro, and she’s one of my heroes and I do Sam’s radio show with Chrissie (Swan),” he explains.
“So I do feel pressure, but at the same time Myf and I couldn’t be more different, so hopefully we’ll bring something completely different to the table with our own sparkle.
“I’m there for all things campery, but we’ve both been researching pretty hard and brushing up. I’ve got a bible on all of the artists and I’ve become quite addicted to a few of the songs.
“Myf is such an authority now. After Molly Meldrum you’d probably go Myf Warhurst. So she’s very handy to have around. You can throw any name or style of music at her and she’s got something to say.
“I feel really confident with her.”
For the past few years Creasey has hosted live Eurovision parties in gay bars, peppering commentary with his knack for unscripted one-liners. He grew up watching Eurovision as the son of British-Australians.
“I remember the year Loreen won in ’09 with Euphoria, which is now one of my all-time favourite songs. I watched it every year since then. I even play Euphoria in the pre-show for my stand-up show.”
“He will really surprise people with his impressive voice”
Australia’s hopes rest with X Factor winner Isaiah Firebrace singing Don’t Come Easy, penned by Anthony Egizii, David Musumeci who both wrote Dami Im’s Sound of Silence plus Michael Angelo. Australia’s entry remains in the hands of the experienced Blink TV and producer Paul Clarke, who have overseen our participation across successive years.
But Isaiah faces fierce competition, even to qualify for Sunday’s Final.
“I was hanging out with Isaiah at the Logies and what he is planning is very exciting. He will really surprise people with his impressive voice at 17 years old,” assures Creasey.
“Italy is the front runner at the moment. I was resisting it but I had a few more listens and I’m hooked. He’s a total babe, the song’s kooky, got a message and a dancing gorilla. I also really like Romania’s rap yodel. The Netherlands has a girl group, and I find it hard to go past a girl group.
“A few of them aren’t great Live singers so they might come undone. Like the Romanian team. The song with the yodelling is amazing but they sound very different Live to recorded. But I could be wrong. If they nail it on the night they could be a tough team to beat.”
Ahead of primetime Semi Finals, Creasey and Warhurst will both front a pre-recorded special to whip up Eurovision fever down under, Eurovision Top 40 Songs.
The special includes performances by Dami Im, Paul Capsis and Bjorn Again and interviews from six past Eurovision winners including Mans Zelmerlow (2015) and Loreen (2012) from Sweden, Conchita Wurst (2014), Katrina and The Waves (1997), Bucks Fizz (1981), and Brotherhood of Man (1976).
“It’s a Top 40 Countdown, 20 to 1 style, and it’s fabulous. We’ve got live performers and comedians commenting on the Top 40 songs of all time. We’re hosting in a very camp Eurovision-esque studio.”
When he wraps in Ukraine, Creasey resumes his comedy tour in New Zealand and Australia and hints at “a few other TV things in the works” to keep him busy until the end of the year.
But first there’s a small matter of 3 spectacular shows and whether Australia can knock off Italy’s dancing gorilla.
“The only thing about the gorilla is we’ve now seen it… 100 million times on YouTube so I question whether it will have the same factor. He could almost be getting too far ahead in the competition that it could work against him.
“It will be hard to shock us on the night.”
Eurovision Top 40 Songs Wednesday 10 May, 8.30pm on SBS
Semi Final 1 (Isaiah Firebrace performs)
Live: 5am Wednesday 10 May (Australia votes)
Primetime: 7.30pm Friday 12 May rpt
Semi Final 2
Live: 5am Friday 12 May
Primetime: 7:30pm Saturday 13 May rpt
Live: 5am Sunday 14 May (Australia votes)
Primetime: 7:30pm Sunday 14 May rpt