Big brush off

Which star hit the cut­ting room floor on Anh Do’s new show?

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Fen­ton ANH’S BRUSH WITH FAME

FOR a man who’d al­ready con­quered the com­edy world like Anh Do, be­com­ing a fi­nal­ist in the 2014 Archibald Prize was a mon­u­men­tal achieve­ment.

It was also an emo­tional one, be­cause the host of

Anh’s Brush With Fame had painted a por­trait of his fa­ther Tam when the older man was gravely ill with a brain tu­mour.

“That’s a son paint­ing a dad he’s quite wor­ried about,” ex­plains Do.

There was one slight prob­lem though – Tam didn’t like the pic­ture.

“My fa­ther looked at the paint­ing and said, ‘Gosh I think I’m bet­ter look­ing than that!’.

“Then all th­ese old ladies recog­nised him and wanted self­ies with him in front of the paint­ing … he looks at me and says, ‘Hey son, good job, you got my like­ness down pat’. He changed his mind just be­cause the old ladies wanted self­ies with him!”

They’re “best mates” now but for nine years through his teens, Fa­ther’s Day was a cel­e­bra­tion in which Do could not take part.

Tam, bat­tling al­co­holism, had left the fam­ily when Anh was just 13, and the pair didn’t re­con­nect un­til Anh tracked him down aged 21.

His anger at be­ing for­got­ten by his dad quickly dis­si­pated when Tam in­tro­duced him to his baby half-brother: “His name’s Anh. I named him af­ter you,” his dad said.

“My fa­ther lost three brothers and his own fa­ther in the af­ter­math of the (Viet­nam) war and he used to drink to for­get about it,” Do ex­plains.

“Now he’s back in our lives, and he’s got his drink­ing un­der con­trol and he’s a great dad.”

Tam sur­vived the tu­mour and Do’s four kids un­der 12 adore their gran­dad.

“He’s get­ting close to 60, he’s mel­lowed and the kids love him be­cause he’s a big kid.” Brush With Fame blends Do’s love of paint­ing with his fas­ci­na­tion with peo­ple. Celebri­ties in this first sea­son in­clude co­me­dian Magda Szuban­ski, pre­sen­ter Amanda Keller, brain sur­geon Dr Char­lie Teo, singer Kate Ce­ber­ano, ac­tor Craig McLach­lan, ra­dio loud­mouth Kyle Sandi­lands and boxer An­thony Mun­dine.

“For me I had to ei­ther love and ad­mire them, or find them fas­ci­nat­ing,” he ex­plains.

“I think one of the rea­sons peo­ple open up so much dur­ing the show is I’m not there to judge them. I’m just a very cu­ri­ous per­son. If I’m at a din­ner party … and you’re up for it, I want to ask you the big ques­tions: What’s your great­est joy? What’s your deep­est re­gret?”

While the open­ing mon­tage fea­tures celebs re­act­ing with de­light at their por­traits, Do ad­mits they didn’t all love what he’d painted.

“They all said they liked it, but you can tell, you know! I’m so ner­vous be­fore I spin that paint­ing around. I’m like that per­son on Mas­ter Chef watch­ing the judge chew the food …”

The in­ter­views also went well, with many great sto­ries hit the cut­ting room floor.

Case in point: leg­endary Cold Chisel front man Jimmy Barnes, re­counted a tale about a woman who gave his stage man­ager a let­ter at a gig re­quest­ing he un­dergo a pa­ter­nity test.

“Bar­nesy has a look at the pho­tos and says, ‘I bet­ter do that pa­ter­nity test!’,” Do laughs. “It turns out he has a 30-some­thing daugh­ter he fa­thered when he was 17 and he’d never known about her. And that story didn’t even make the fi­nal cut! You could do a two-hour show on Bar­nesy.”

Although his suc­cess as a pain­ter led many to con­clude he was scal­ing back his work as a co­me­dian, Do is tour­ing with his hit com­edy show The Hap­pi­est Refugee.

He re­fuses to be put into a box.

“You can list all of th­ese things, like mak­ing peo­ple laugh, paint­ing, get­ting to know fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple – I could list all of those as my hob­bies,” he says.

“If I in­her­ited a bil­lion dol­lars from an un­known un­cle to­mor­row, I’d still be do­ing th­ese things, just for fun.”

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