Blokes bare all

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - DEB­BIE SCHIPP

BUSINESSMAN and for­mer Lib­eral Party leader John El­liott swears by singing love songs af­ter mak­ing love, Hol­ly­wood heart- throb Josh Law­son says first kisses should ‘‘ avoid tongue or re­ally use it spar­ingly, like Tabasco’’, and co­me­dian and broad­caster Tim Ross re­mains scarred by his first Blue Light Disco pash.

Wel­come to the world of Aussie bloke logic, in which 18 high- pro­file Aussie blokes, the Agony Un­cles, dis­pense dis­arm­ing and some­times dev­as­tat­ingly hon­est views on ro­mance, re­jec­tion, love and dat­ing.

The six- part se­ries cre­ated by Adam Zwar is a con­fes­sional- style foray into what makes Aus­tralian blokes tick, with the hi­lar­i­ous re­sult that even af­ter all the dis­sec­tion, ro­mance is still a mys­tery to most.

The show, based loosely on UK show Grumpy Old­men in which mid­dle- aged male celebri­ties give their can­did views on life, is low­bud­get ( filmed pri­mar­ily in and around Zwar’s home), but the nuggets of ‘‘ wis­dom’’ are gold.

In early episodes, Law­son tells of watch­ing a girl flee from a bar rather than hang around for their date. He also out­lines how he would pre­fer to do im­pro­vi­sa­tion be­fore an au­di­ence of 1000 peo­ple rather than risk be­ing re­jected ask­ing some­one out. It makes you won­der how he man­aged to even ask Aussie ac­tress Rachel Tay­lor out let alone find love with her.

‘‘ When I think about Josh’s kiss­ing tips, I feel a lit­tle bit ill,’’ Zwar says of his mate.

‘‘ But look, he’s the SNAG- iest of the Agony Un­cles, and he was star­ring in the movie when they got to­gether, and he sat down for our in­ter­view af­ter fly­ing in from Ye­men when he fin­ished [ the movie] Any Ques­tions for Ben.

‘‘ At the end of the in­ter­view he laughed and said ‘ I’ve got no idea what I’ve just said’.’’

Zwar says it’s the un­guarded na­ture of the show he dreamed of cap­tur­ing when he re­cruited his 18 Agony Un­cles.

Af­ter writ­ing a news­pa­per col­umn about sin­gle­dom for many years, Zwar tried sev­eral times to get the show up and run­ning – even­tu­ally tin­ker­ing enough to get it right – and turned to a group of high- pro­file mates, mates of mates, ‘‘ and peo­ple I’d worked with over the years’’.

‘‘ We did the in­ter­views over three weeks, con­fes­sional style. Maybe there was a false sense of se­cu­rity, be­cause they’re talk­ing to a mate and for­got they’re talk­ing to Australia,’’ Zwar says.

The re­sults are can­did and hi­lar­i­ous ver­dicts on ev­ery­thing from ‘‘ psy­cho women’’ the term, Zwar says, Aussie blokes use for any woman they don’t un­der­stand, to how men re­act when some­one says ‘‘ I love you’’ and they don’t want to hear it ( unan­i­mous ver­dict, don’t lie and say you do, just change the sub­ject, get out quickly, then run like hell).

It’s brave and gen­er­ous wis­dom. It may give men’s other halves in­sight, but no an­swers. ‘‘ We do get to the great un­spo­ken – it’s a real peek in­side the locker room of the male mind.’’ Zwar says.

‘‘ The big thing I learnt was men talk about foot­ball pretty se­ri­ously, and women talk about it as a bit of a joke. When guys talk about re­la­tion­ships it’s like it’s a bit of a joke, so it’s the blind lead­ing the blind. With women, it is se­ri­ous.’’

This was un­der­lined for Zwar as he put to­gether Agony Aunts, which will air six weeks af­ter Agony Un­cles fin­ishes, fea­tur­ing women talk­ing about the mys­ter­ies of life and love.

Zwar says he gleaned much from the ‘‘ older’’ un­cles.

‘‘ If you get to 40, ev­ery­one’s had their heart bro­ken, had some rough times. You don’t get to 40 and it’s all been sweet sail­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘ Brett [ Tucker, ac­tor] talks about get­ting his heart bro­ken for the first time at 36, and that’s pretty late. The longer you leave it to get your heart bro­ken the harder you fall.

‘‘ Rosso is a gold mine here, he is like: ‘ OK guys I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life, this is what hap­pens’. He and Lawrence Mooney [ co­me­dian], de­spite their knock­about per­sonas, are hon­est about hav­ing been to the depths of de­spair and carry that wis­dom with them.’’

John El­liott’s per­haps dated views are also a stand­out.

‘‘ What I love about him is in his mind, he’s never wrong. There’s no room for self- doubt,’’ Zwar laughs.

‘‘ I learnt that pretty much ev­ery­one has a the­ory but no­body re­ally knows any­thing.’’

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