Whatever happened to Hamish & Andy? Obviously they’re still around; they have a prime-time television series on Channel Nine as you read this (so long as you’re reading this on a Tuesday night), which pretty much puts them in the very top tier of Australian comedians working on television – even The Chaser or Chris Lilley in his prime never managed to make the leap to commercial television, let alone had a long-running series of successful shows. And yet… what happened to them?
It wasn’t all that long ago that they both seemed at least halfway interested in trying new things with their careers: who remembers Real Stories, the fake news show they did? Or that when they first started turning up on Rove they were doing dumb stunts in public in the guise of fake sporting events (that close-walking thing)? When they branched out from being guest stars on Rove’s talk show to having their own specials on Ten, at the time the format – Hamish and Andy roam around meeting odd people and doing silly things – seemed fresh, even though it was basically their massively popular radio show only with pictures.
Then they moved to Nine, supposedly because there they’d be able to try new things (the money was also a factor), and they did: their first show (set in New York) was basically a tonight show with a few sketches thrown in and a sizeable role for co-writer (and fellow Rove segment host) Ryan Shelton. But it quickly became clear that both the public and Nine weren’t exactly happy with the format of the original Gap Year and so succeeding seasons ditched the tonight show angle (and Shelton), bringing the duo back to pretty much the exact same show they’d been making locally for Channel Ten: go somewhere new, do the same old stuff. And it works.
They’re a funny and likeable duo who can get a lot of laughs out of inserting themselves into local customs and then making fools of themselves. And it’s not like there’s no comedy between the pair of them either: Hamish is more of a prankster, Andy is his long-suffering friend, and there’s enough chemistry between the two of them that – you’d think – they could take their double act into more traditional comedy forms (a sitcom or a movie) and it would still work. But they haven’t, and with each passing year and each new yet basically the same series of Gap Year it becomes less and less likely that they’ll be able to break out. Sure, every time in the past where they’ve tried something new or different it hasn’t worked out; why should they keep banging their heads against a wall? But eventually the same old same old stops working, and unless they have a Plan B they’re going to be left with nowhere to go.
If nothing else, a hefty chunk of their appeal comes from the fact that they’re young guys messing about. Is wearing silly hats in foreign lands still going to draw a big crowd when they’re on the wrong side of forty?
Written by Anthony Morris