Hamish Blake and Andy Lee are Aussie larrikins known for their hijinks and hilarious stunts. Their fast-paced chatter on drive radio sounds like they’re talking to a friend—albeit 2.5 million of them—and that’s the way they like it.
‘It feels like we’re friends with everybody, and we’re just having open conversation about anything in life,’ Andy tells Warcry.
‘Our listeners share so much every day when they call up and their stories are always funnier than ours. People who listen to our show on the radio are making it far better than it could ever be. It’s a simple transaction.’
Their formula for success may be simple, but it’s definitely working.
After being recruited by Rove McManus in 2005, Hamish and Andy have starred in no fewer than 12 TV shows and specials that have taken them across the globe. Their Gap Year series earned them three silver Logies, with Hamish picking up gold for most popular TV personality in 2012. To top it off, they became the most popular drive-home radio show in the country after only three weeks on air. But that falls at the wayside for the pair who met at university in 2003—their friendship remains the top priority.
‘Unlike a lot of other teams on television or radio, we were friends first, so basically the friendship has always been paramount,’ shares Andy. ‘We’ve pretty much got the same mind. So having a second person, or a second “you” I always feel like, to be able to bounce ideas and life decisions off, is a luxury really.’
I’m struck by the warmth of the comedian’s voice, rare in a celebrity interview, and he is unassumingly raw as he describes their tight-knit bond.
‘The fact that we have ultimate trust—we know that we’re so there for each other—allows the banter to go in all sorts of directions and also be as confronting as possible, because you know it comes from a place of funniness rather than anything nasty,’ he says.
The trust has led them into side-splitting situations. Andy wore a firecracker hat in South America, Hamish put on ‘bullet ant gloves’ in the Amazon and, together, they have challenged Olympic athletes to ‘fair and reasonable’ competitions in their chosen sport (and for the record, beat gold medallist swimmer Mack Horton at his own game). Yet while their shenanigans are never short of laughs, their bond has also led them to some life-altering experiences.
‘We shot in Sarajevo, Bosnia, for the 2012 Olympics with the sit-down Paralympic volleyball team. During the Bosnian war in the early ‘90s, a lot of them lost limbs. They managed to turn this into a positive,’ recalls Andy. ‘It’s a really special thing to hear and learn about those things. Not tremendously funny, but certainly inspiring.’
Hamish and Andy have also shared more personal moments together, including Hamish’s marriage to author Zoe Foster and the birth of their son Sonny in 2012. Not one to leave his friend in the lurch, though, Hamish has taken on the role of being Andy’s ‘Ultimate Wingman,’ a title that allows him to lead Andy (named Cleo Bachelor of the Year in 2006) into awkward and uncomfortable situations to find his perfect match.
‘For a man that struggles terribly with women himself, I don’t know how he landed the lovely Zoe!’ laughs Andy. ‘So he was terrible when he was single. He remains terrible now he’s taken. But he certainly enjoys it, so as a good friend I like to just do it pretty much for him.’
Self-deprecating comedy like this is an art form for the duo, and their natural positivity has made them a family-friendly choice for many Aussies. ‘It’s definitely not intentional, it’s just naturally where we like to play,’ explains Andy. ‘In the past people said, “You were clever to keep the show broad and not swear, or not be so edgy”—that was never the goal, we were just lucky that what we liked doing falls into that type of demographic.’
By remaining honest and taking the mickey, the pair has created a niche that allows them to make a difference and have fun at the same time. Supporting numerous charities over the years, including The Salvation Army, they always find whimsical ways to raise funds for those less fortunate.
In 2014, Hamish rowed 42 km on an indoor rowing machine in support of The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal. Naming it the ‘Row Ho Ho’ challenge, his quirky feat raised more than $36,000—not bad for a dare between friends.
‘I think I might have accidentally said something along the lines of, “I think it’s possible”, and unfortunately in my circle of friends, if you’re dumb enough to say something like that you’re immediately forced to prove it,’ he said to news.com.au.
At times it can be difficult to pull a serious comment from the two, but their commitment to bringing positivity into the world is always evident. This will continue in the new year as they return to our screens with a new TV series.
‘It’s not a travel show, so I suppose we’re just hoping that people won’t hate it!’ laughs Andy. ‘That’s the first goal. We’re excited to be working on something new and a bit different.’