Hamish and Andy

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - ZOE NAU­MAN

THEY say the true test of a re­la­tion­ship is sur­viv­ing a hol­i­day away to­gether. Co­me­di­ans Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have done that sev­eral times now and sur­vived with their friend­ship, and the tele­vi­sion rat­ings, in­tact.

The com­edy duo orig­i­nally went on the road with their stand­alone Car­a­van of Courage spe­cials for Chan­nel 10, criss­cross­ing Amer­ica in 2009.

In 2010 they re­peated the dose with a jaunt through Great Bri­tain and Ire­land.

Blake and Lee then signed with Chan­nel 9 for a ru­moured $ 15 mil­lion, and opted for ‘‘ per­ma­nent’’ digs for their trav­els, via two Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year ex­per­i­ments in New York in 2011, and, just be­fore this year’s Olympics, in Lon­don where they beamed eight episodes out of a for­mer Lon­don Pub.

But tonight the duo is back in a trusty Jayco Con­quest car­a­van, travers­ing New Zealand and, next week, Aus­tralia, re­turn­ing to a fa­mil­iar and pop­u­lar recipe.

Hamish and Andy’s Car­a­van of Courage: Aus­tralia vs New Zealand is, typ­i­cally for the duo, ‘‘ a very un­sci­en­tific ex­per­i­ment’’ to de­cide which coun­try is bet­ter.

It’s also expected to be late- sea­son hit for Chan­nel 9, which knows where 2012 Gold Lo­gie win­ner Blake leads, view­ers will fol­low.

All of which is the last thing on the pair’s mind as they lurch their way through the trip.

Be­ing Blake and Lee, it wasn’t enough to just find a hov­er­craft in­ven­tor some­where on their jaunt from top to bot­tom of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Nat­u­rally, they had to buy one. ‘‘ The high­light in New Zealand was buy­ing a hov­er­craft off a back­yard in­ven­tor. And the low- light was what hap­pened when we used the hov­er­craft,’’ Blake con­fesses. De­spite the fact the pair have been liv­ing in each other’s pock­ets for the show, they don’t get sick of each other. They have been mates since meet­ing at univer­sity in Mel­bourne in 2001 and it’s an undy­ing bro­mance that pro­vides plenty of comic fod­der. ‘‘ I am sure there is a lot of stuff about me which an­noys the hell out of Andy but that makes our friend­ship good,’’ Blake says. ‘‘ And I think when one of us an­noys the hell out of the other one we can also see the funny side. That’s road trips in gen­eral. ‘‘ You live out of the same tent with a car­a­van but that’s the fun part too – that close­ness breeds a cer­tain type of ad­ven­ture.’’ Blake says he and Lee saw none of the ri­valry that’s usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with Aus­tralians and New Zealan­ders on their trip. ‘‘ It’s just like a big brother, lit­tle brother thing,’’ he says. ‘‘ Ki­wis are awe­some – you get up to more fun there be­cause a lot of New Zealan­ders want to show you dif­fer­ent things. ‘‘ For ex­am­ple you find guys build­ing hov­er­crafts and peo­ple who still be­lieve moose are in the wilder­ness. ‘‘ We got re­ally ex­cited to find the more ob­scure things to do there be­cause that is our per­fect thing to do.’’ Blake says the big dif­fer­ence be­tween their New Zealand and Aus­tralian ex­pe­ri­ence has been that ‘‘ the threats in Aus­tralia have come mostly from an­i­mals and in New Zealand they have come al­most al­ways from our own stu­pid­ity’’. Whether New Zealand or Aus­tralia win Hamish and Andy’s ti­tle, one thing is al­ready set­tled: The duo is far more com­fort­able play­ing tele­vi­sion and ra­dio clowns than rodeo clowns. ‘‘ Peo­ple at rodeos tend to ac­cept that bro­ken bones can and will hap­pen,’’ Blake says. ‘‘ We are happy to put our bod­ies on the line, but nei­ther of us was too keen to break a leg or an arm.’’

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