Mercury (Hobart)

Making a scene



COMEDIAN Harley Breen could almost be TripAdviso­r for quarantine facilities – he’s been fortunate, or rather unfortunat­e, thanks to work opportunit­ies to be able to compare experience­s in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Sunshine Coast and New Zealand.

And he gives top billing to NZ after quarantini­ng in Hamilton – where he was given a traditiona­l Maori welcome, and walked through every facet of his two-week stay and mental health checks.

“In Australia – it was ‘get inside and shut the door, don’t come out and we’ll see you in two weeks’,” Breen laughs.

He jokes there was a recent moment of being stuck at home with his three kids with partner Hannah Rose that he thought, “I could go a bit of quarantine right now”.

Last year when Melbourne was in its second lockdown, he and the family escaped to his mate’s rural property and enjoyed being away from suburbia. In this sixth lockdown, they’re back in the city, ostensibly so Breen could take advantage of work opportunit­ies as they popped up, but also so he could jump on stage and flex his comedy muscles as often as possible.

So currently he is really in the thick of homeschool­ing his 11-year-old son. “There’s been a mix of really lovely moments of learning with your kid and seeing them grow and then there’s absolute chaos and anarchy and potential tantrums from a full-grown man,” Breen says. “I’m definitely the one throwing the tantrums around the house.”


Breen says he truly has a passion for making things in his shed – it’s a form of meditation. He’s whipped up all manner of things from reclaimed timbers found on the side of the road. There’s been a “ramshackle cubby house” for the kids and a change table for the babies.

“None of the stuff I’ve made is the best thing ever but it is so good when you’ve made it,” Breen says. “The change table is two babies deep on it and is still going fine. I’ll probably put a barbecue on top of it when we’re finished with it.”

These skills have certainly come in handy as host – with great mate Susie Youssef – of the Australian version of Making It. But Breen demurs a little when I ask how he’d fare against the premiere crop of Makers.

“Oh look, I would love to be on the show but I would feel incredibly intimidate­d if there was the kind of Makers like we had in series one,” he confesses.


His brothers – Randall and Sinclair – are both quite exceptiona­l craftsmen. His younger brother Sinclair was the workshop manager on Making It Australia.

With all three boys quite handy – did they learn at the feet of their father or mother?

“No, no it developed, not really in spite of Dad’s lack of skills – My dad’s a very passionate romantic academic,” Breen shares. “He’s not really into that side of things or constructi­on.

“I’ve made some very unfair jokes about Dad – like he would not know which end of the hammer to hold – which is not right.

“It just points to the fact that we had an old man that was not out in the shed building stuff. It was just sort of something that all three of us gravitated towards.”

While Breen believes he could go all right on Making It, he’d love to be on a show about homesteadi­ng – where they take a family out and drop them in the middle of nowhere and live like it’s the 1800s.

“To be honest with you – I just want to live that way,” he says.

In fact, he’d really love to indulge his great passion for eco-building. Breen would love to build an earth ship, a passive solar earth shelter made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tyres, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds. “It is a genuine goal to move towards – maybe I should just pitch it and get a network to pay for the house,” he says.

“The camera’s just a fly on the wall as I have my tantrums and storm out of the house.”

Once internatio­nal borders open Breen would love to meet his Making It US counterpar­ts – Nick Offerman and Amy Poeler. “I would fall all over myself to talk to both of them,” he says.

“I need this whole global situation to end so I can be invited to work in Nick’s workshop in LA and have him teach me.

“I don’t think people really appreciate how he is genuinely a master craftsman. I make stuff out of things I find on the side of the road that are practical and he makes bespoke handmade canoes.”


He’s also a genuine fan of his co-host Youssef.

They’ve known each other for 15 years, passing each other at various festivals and galas, but never working as closely together as on the set on the Ten reality show.

“She’s always been a mate and I looked forward to having a beer with her at festivals, but now I feel like I’ve got myself a very close friend and a person that my children love and message without me knowing. It’s fun.”

While Breen has lost an “insurmount­able” amount of work thanks to the pandemic, he says he has been fortunate picking up work such as Making It, where 13 incredibly talented Makers showcase their artistic genius, unique skills and passion for their craft.

Making It Australia, Wednesday, 7.30pm, Channel 10

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 ??  ?? Harley Breen and Susie Youssef – hosts of Making It on Channel 10.
Harley Breen and Susie Youssef – hosts of Making It on Channel 10.

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