When WHO’s Abi Moustafa sat down to speak to Tom Gleeson, a man whose career is based on making people laugh, it was more than evident he’s as quick off the mark in real life as he is on ABC comedy show Hard Quiz. No matter what was thrown at him, the 44-year-old nominee for this year's Gold Logie (up against Waleed Aly, Rodger Corser, Costa Georgiadis, Amanda Keller, Sam Mac and Eve Morey) was not short of a quick one-liner.
Congratulations on your Gold Logie nomination.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at the awards night, because you just rip your jokes out effortlessly. How do you always manage to do this?
Well, I went to boarding school when I was 11 and so we would rip the piss out of each other 24 hours a day. From dawn till dusk, that’s what we would do, we’d all pay each other out. And paying each other out was the highest form of respect.
That’s what will happen at the Logies again?
Potentially, yeah. If I bother to make a joke about someone … They should feel flattered. Do you know what’s worse? If I don’t make a joke about you.
You should really question your existence. And your career. If I’ve not even bothered to mention you, you should feel like you have to try harder to be noticed.
Speaking of ripping you, we spoke to Rodger Corser and he referred to you as a ‘wanker’.
Did he? That’s typical Rodger.
It was hilarious. What do you have to say to that?
Well, Rodger’s not even a doctor. Straight up. So I mean, he’s been living off Underbelly for 10 years, like everyone’s, “Oh, that’s the guy from Underbelly, we’ll accept that he’s a doctor. He was a policeman before.” I mean, he hasn’t really stretched himself as an actor. What’s he been? A doctor, police … These are all just standard things that you do in Australian television.
Yes, public servants. And I can understand why he called me a wanker, because … I threaten him. I threaten him and his career. And he’s right to be scared. Because the role he does … I could do Doctor Doctor. It’d be easy. All I’d have to do is pretend to know things about medicine. But I’ve got a science degree. At least I actually go in knowing stuff. He’s got no idea. He’s an actor. So, he’s clearly thick as s--t.
Let’s talk about Hard Chat. How long is the process, from knowing who’s on the show and the questions you write up?
It’s different for different people. Some people say yes and it’s two days away. And this is a bit of advice to people who work in entertainment: if you confirm a Hard Chat that’s weeks and weeks and weeks away, you have made a massive mistake, because I’ve had a long time to think about it. The best thing to do if you want to do Hard Chat is to just suddenly say, “I can do it tomorrow.” And then I won’t have as much time to think. But also, to be fair, writers work on it, too, and they write some very sharp lines for me.
Amazing. And the execution’s great. Don’t take that away from yourself.
I write it as well, but I get some help. Because sometimes we’ll have a guest and I may not actually know much about them, but the writers room that works on The Weekly, in that group we can find a mutual disdain for that person to work on.
Do you get a lot of fans walk up to you asking for a photo?
A lot of the stuff I do on TV is so abrasive, people are kind of frightened of me in general. So if people do want a photo, they’re like, “We’re so sorry, we’re sorry to interrupt you, please.” And then I’ll pay them out while we get the photo. And it’s fun. But in general, in Australian TV, even a really popular show gets watched by a million people. That’s still 19 people out of 20 that don’t see it. You know, I’m not The Beatles. I’m just the host of a show.
Who do you think is going to win the coveted Gold Logie?
That’s the confidence – that’s what we want to see.
I think I’m going to win it. I mean, I just have to be careful the ABC voters don’t get complacent, which is why I’ve axed my own show.
Did you do it for the attention?
I’m holding it hostage. No, no, they will not get Hard Quiz back unless they vote for me. I’ve put it out there. They know they’ve got to vote.
If viewers don’t vote for you, you’re not coming back?
I’m not going to bring it back.
For more of our interview with Tom Gleeson, check out this week's issue of WHO magazine.