INSIDE: Seven days of TV viewing
A TOUR of New York with comedy kings Hamish Blake and Andy Lee was never going to be a conventional affair. This is why, after breakfast at a SoHo diner, to which Blake turned up on a bicycle, we are sitting in the front row of a public amphitheatre, which looks on to 10th Ave, watching traffic. No Statue of Liberty. No Staten Island ferry. Not even a hotdog.
‘‘ It’s a live movie,’’ says Blake, as we watch yellow cabs struggle uptown, horns blaring to evade the crush of cars and pedestrians.
‘‘ It’s pure New York. It’s traffic. I could take the bike out to liven it up.’’
Blake and Lee ( pictured) have chosen a walking tour of High Line Park on Manhattan’s lower west side to showcase the city they have discovered since relocating there for their new show, Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year.
The elevated urban park was, until a couple of years ago, a disused railway line, winding through the lower west side, where Blake and Lee have made their homes.
We use our park vantage point to look up at the floor-to-ceiling windows of the famous The Standard Hotel.
‘‘ People staying there forget that the city can see straight into their rooms,’’ Lee says.
‘‘ The hotel management leave notes to guests warning them that this is a prime place if you want to get seen doing ‘ things’ in your room. It’s like live theatre if you’re highminded, or you could just be a dirty people watcher.’’
This, then, is their New York, which WIN hopes will rake in the ratings over 10 instalments of Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year. The show will chronicle their adventures in New York and further afield. They laugh off suggestions it’s their shot at cracking the American market.
‘‘ We are here to eat their food, not invade their airwaves,’’ Blake says.
‘‘ The show won’t air here. We just chose here because Australians love an adventure and characters and this place is full of them.’’
The stories the pair recount as the tour unfolds reveal no shortage of comic fodder.
Lee is living in a bachelor pad in SoHo, which doubles as a radio studio for their weekly shows and a crash pad for visitors.
Blake has appointed himself Lee’s dating coach, following his mate’s break-up with Megan Gale last year, but isn’t the world’s greatest wingman.
He gleefully recounts a story of the pair trying to get into a nightclub in Miami. Lee, wearing long pants, was allowed in. Blake, in shorts, wasn’t. Undaunted, he sent another mate in with the message to Lee to send out his pants. Lee obliged, then sat on a lounge in a corner in his underwear.
The pair is loving the in-your-face New Yorkers, and estimate they break at least five laws – written and unwritten – in the city each day.
The Gap Year studio is in a warehouse in Brooklyn, a short walk from the Green Point ferry pier. Underneath it is ‘‘ a plastics factory of some sort’’.
Above the studio is a community garden they call ‘‘ the farm’’, which doubles as a barbecue area.
When they took the cameras to greet their new neighbours in the factory, the whole place emptied.
‘‘ We gathered that there may be some illegal workers there,’’ Lee says. ‘‘ So now we just give them a wave as we head in to let them know we’re not social security.’’
They may be household names in Australia but in New York they are just upstart Aussies.
‘‘ We have no cred anywhere but absolutely none here,’’ Blake says.
Perhaps a hit show will change all that . . .
Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year,
WIN, Thursday, 8.30pm