Why Funny Beats The “Big” Idea Every Time: Hamish & Andy

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, Hamish and Andy, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016

One of the most common mistakes radio shows can make is to focus on coming up with big ideas rather than fun or funny ones, according to the Hit Network’s Hamish Blake.

Huntley Mitchell
Posted by Huntley Mitchell

Talking at Commercial Radio Australia’s National Radio Conference 2016 in Melbourne alongside his radio co-host and partner in crime, Andy Lee, Blake said the pressure on radio shows to come up with big ideas is “a curse”.

“If we have a conversation that starts with ‘what’s a big idea we can do?’, it will be over-thought and nervous, and the chances of it being big and funny will be miniscule, but if a conversation starts with ‘what’s a fun idea we can do?’, and as a by-product it happens to be a large event, then fine,” he said.

“If an idea doesn’t make us laugh, we know there’s zero chance of it really catching fire.”

However, Blake noted there have been times where ideas have made he and Lee laugh a lot but have failed to jump the divide between them and the audience.

“There’s so much luck involved,” he said. “There’s never a guarantee that it will work, but if it’s not funny to us then it’s probably a guarantee that it won’t work.”

Lee said the pair never put any parameters on any of their show ideas.

“We want to leave them open to be able to grow them as big as possible,” he said.

“We do analyse the show a lot, but never beforehand try and guess where something would go. Of course, there are times where you look at the space and go ‘let’s not end up there’, but more often than not, we like to see where it goes.”

Lee added that the pair never try to “play in the same area again” when it comes to show ideas to avoid them being compared to the success of the originals.

The Hamish & Andy show stars also revealed that they don’t each other what they’re going to say on air.

“We’re so comfortable with each other, so whatever I’m going to say, I want Hamish to hear it for the first time,” Lee explained.

“It was the same with our TV projects – we wanted those genuine, first-time moments. Hamish and I love working in the real moments, and we love surprising each other.”

Blake said a trap that radio hosts can easily fall into is over-preparing, which can result having to fake or re-enact a reaction.

“For us, the number one critical theme that we always try and make sure we hit is that level of authenticity so that we’re all enjoying the moment at the same time our listeners are,” he said.

“I know when I get kicked out of a [planning] meeting for half an hour, it’s a good thing because I’ll be given some sort of present that afternoon. It can be a highly embarrassing situation, but that’s the fun – we know when 4pm rolls around that we’re not trying to re-create something funny that happened in the meeting. We’ve saved the fireworks for the afternoon.”