I was recently asked to host About Tonight, Channel 31’s tonight show with a rotating roster of presenters. Hosting a tonight show was a bit of a bucket list tick for me: I got to banter with the band leader, do an opening monologue, and sit at a desk holding a pen even though I had no reason to write anything down at any point.
Actually, it was two bucket list items: I’d always wanted to interview a politician, and About Tonight had booked Senator Scott Ludlam. I wanted to talk to him about the new data retention laws, given how vocal he is in his opposition to them. And to keep things interesting, I had to pretend I didn’t agree with him. But I did provoke him into calling me a smartarse on air, so I call it a win.
The theme of the episode was the impending death of community television at the hands of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, so I spoke to Ludlam about it from a legislative perspective, interviewed Grant Hansen (creator and host of the wildly successful Marngrook Footy Show) about what it was like to get a show up in Channel 31’s heyday, and asked The Katering Show producer Tamasin Simpkin about creating a runaway hit exclusively for the web. On top of that, my house band was Vasili, the legendary accordion-playing host of Vasili’s Garden, the most enduring success story of Channel 31.
The entire show is available to watch via YouTube, which, despite the fact that this episode is about how C31 needs more time to move online, is not nearly as ironic as you’d think.
Thanks again to everyone at Channel 31 and About Tonight for the opportunity. And sorry about the singing.