John Conway hosts the new TV series John Conway Tonight.
John Conway hosts the new TV series John Conway Tonight. John McRae

Famous TV format gets an Aussie twist

HE'S A textbook example of that cutting Aussie humour that's harsh but hilarious, but there's not much else textbook about John Conway.

After doing small-stage comedy for 10 years, John Conway Live is the latest late show to grace the airwaves and according to John, it's the host that means the most.

"I think the most important thing is a very talented host, a talented, charming and handsome host - we're still looking for someone," he laughs before adding "that's a classic joke, please put that in there."

"No, from what I see, it's a format that was developed by Johnny Carson and the same show is still going today hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

"Carson went away with Ed McMahon and spent a week developing the perfect talk show: monologue, funny segment, guest, funny segment, guest, musical or comedy act and close.

"And they all follow a similar format today but you can play around with it."

John Conway, Jenna Owen and Victoria Zerbst star in the new TV series John Conway Tonight.
John Conway, Jenna Owen and Victoria Zerbst star in the new TV series John Conway Tonight. John McRae


So what makes John Conway Live different, besides the fact that it's hosted out of a tiny bar where pizzas are served mid-show and there's every chance of interruption?

"We're new, we're fresh," John says.

"We are using that format somewhat, but really it's just me having a lot of fun with best, new, talented funny people in comedy under the guise of creating a TV show.

"We have an absolutely delightful, unseen cast who have all been building up for the last 5-10 years doing comedy.

"In terms of that traditional late night show formula, it's a lot more stupid and a lot more eclectic."

John gives a rundown of the cast, which should give you a pretty good idea of his humour - it's not for everyone, but those who love it will love it hard.

"Sam Campbell is the funniest guy I know, I've known him seven years now and he's a--hole to be honest," he says.

"Aaron Chen is my sidekick extraordinaire; I wouldn't say it's a sharp wit he's got but there's certainly a wit there.

"Robbie Tarocash is my manager, he helped me get the show up and now he's on it.

"Jenna Owen is a talent beyond words, she's very very funny.

"Vic Zerbst is an explosion of humour."

John's descriptions quickly become more abrupt, perhaps thanks to a dwindling attention span, but John says not.

"The less I like them the less I say ... Tom Walker, Tom's all right," he continues.

"Then there's the other two - Clinton and Penny.

"Oh and Ben Russell he's the biggest a**hole of them all, he owes me a lot. Not really, he's actually one of the best impressionists I've ever seen."

His whole rundown gives the impression that while John teases, they're actually like a family - like how Aussies can insult our best mates in a way we wouldn't insult someone we're not comfortable with.

"They're all so talented, but they annoy me a lot - particularly Jenna," he says, seemingly already laughing at the moment Jenna will read this.

"No, this cast, I love them.

"They're so talented and every single one of them are very good - there are no weak links. "They're just amazing. I've been looking for this cast for ten years, it took a long time to pull them all together and they're just moulding together so well."

John's got a lot of love for his crew, and a lot of love for the people who gave a bunch of relatively unknown comedians a shot at live TV.

"Seriously how often do you see new comedy on TV, the fresh blood is amazing," he says.

"It's hard to see a new comedy face on TV and these guys are just ready to jump out of the TV. "They're ready to perform."

John also makes mention of "the extraordinary talent of ABC2", who in reality.

"I've gotta tell you, these guys are taking risks and pushing the boundaries," he says.

"For them to give us a show says a lot about how they're developing, they're becoming more of an exciting, different TV station.

"ABC2 man, they're so cool, I'd be having meetings and there was a DJ there performing - I think it was Flume.

John Conway Tonight premieres tonight at 9pm on ABC2.

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