HAMISH Blake has opened up about the early days of his partnership with Andy Lee and how the hilarious duo was almost a trio.
Hamish took a trip down memory lane with his former boss, Craig Bruce, in the Game changers: Radio podcast and explained how he and Andy originally had a third co-host.
“I’ll give the quick family tree,” Hamish said.
“I went to high school with Ryan Shelton. We’ve been buddies since we were in year nine.”
Through school friends and The Reach Foundation, Hamish then became mates with Jules Lund and Sam Cavanagh (who is Hamish and Andy’s long time producer).
“I met Andy in my first year at Melbourne Uni,” the radio star said.
“In the first year of knowing each other, we started doing community radio. Me, Ryan and Andy at SYN FM in Melbourne. We had no idea what we were doing, just winging it ... at the most we knew we had a vague interest in comedy and that’s it.”
At the same time they were honing their skills on community radio, their mate Jules Lund won a radio competition called “15 Days of Fame” at Fox FM in Melbourne in 2001 and subsequently he started working at the radio station.
During a casual chat with Craig Bruce, who was a presenter on Fox FM at the time, Lund just happened to mention that he had some mates who were dabbling in community radio.
Bruce invited the trio of Hamish, Andy and Ryan to come into Fox FM and record a demo ... and he couldn’t believe what he heard.
“The three of you have done 45 minutes together and my jaw is on the desk having heard you for the first time,” Bruce recalled in the podcast.
He then went immediately into the office of Fox FM’s Head of Content and said, “Just put a bet on these guys, they’re unbelievable”.
The three funny fellas had no idea that the radio bosses would be so impressed by what they did in their demo and at that stage, Hamish admitted that he wasn’t really seriously considering a career in show business.
“As soon as Andy’s got a sniff, he’s like ‘We’ve got this!’. I’m totally the opposite. I was 100 per cent having sit downs with Andy going, ‘I’m going to finish my commerce science degree. I’ll probably go and work at a technology company. Maybe I’ll make CEO. We’ll get a little bit of coin behind us and then, maybe when we’re 50, let’s try the comedy thing’.”
But Andy was “tenacious,” and once he heard that Fox FM was interested in hiring them to help out on different shows and learn the craft, he convinced Hamish they simply had to give it a go.
Deep down, however, Hamish and Andy knew that if they wanted to make a real go of it, they were probably better off as a duo, rather than a trio.
“We had a great chat with Ryan at that stage,” Hamish said.
“He did want to finish his advertising degree and it just became a very easy and obvious decision that maybe Ando and I were a bit more in step for that kind of commercial radio. We never had to bend our personalities to fit commercial radio and I think Ry felt ... a bit of a bending to fit it.
“In the early days when there’s no money, no opportunity, no stakes on the table and everyone’s just making a decision purely based on ‘Do you want to do this?’... In that moment Ando and I both went ‘Yeah we really do,’ and Ry went, ‘Eh, I’m happy to sit it out’.
“We also just struggled with three voices and I think we all knew it. We all just sort of knew that we had six guys on the basketball team and it just seemed like a few too many on the court.”
Hamish said their tough chat with Ryan only strengthened their friendship and “we all charged on loving each other and supporting each other”.
Whereas Hamish and Andy went on to create arguably the most successful Australian radio show of all time, Shelton has excelled in several different fields.
Shelton’s co-written and helped produce most of Hamish and Andy’s TV shows, he co-wrote Chris Lilley’s We Can Be Heroes and he’s hosted several radio shows on both the Today Network and Nova FM.
What a talented bunch of mates.
You can listen to the full interview from Game Changers: Radio, a joint production from Craig Bruce Coaching and Bad Producer Productions, on iTunes