A gold mine OF WIS­DOM

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Cover Story - 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 fel­las – 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 Old Men in which mid­dle-aged

Avoid the tongue for the first kiss … or use it spar­ingly … like Tabasco

male celebri­ties give their can­did views on life, is low-bud­get ( filmed pri­mar­ily in and around Zwar’s home), but the nuggets of “wis­dom” are gold.

In early episodes, Law­son re­counts tales of watch­ing a girl flee from a bar rather than hang around for their date and of pre­fer­ring to do im­pro­vi­sa­tion be­fore an au­di­ence of 1000 peo­ple rather than risk be­ing re­jected ask­ing some­one out.

It make you won­der how on earth he man­aged to even ask Aussie ac­tress Rachael 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 that he dreamed of cap­tur­ing when he re­cruited his 18 Agony Un­cles.

Af­ter writ­ing a news­pa­per col­umn about sin­gle­dom for a num­ber of years, Zwar tried sev­eral times to get the show up and run­ning and even­tu­ally tin­kered 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”.

“I just col­lected a bunch who I knew would be happy to have a chat,” he says.

“We did the in­ter­views over three weeks – con­fes­sional style – and maybe there was a false sense of se­cu­rity, be­cause they are talk­ing to a mate and for­got they are talk­ing to Australia.”

The re­sult is 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 wis­dom that is brave, con­fronting, gen­er­ous, and pos­si­bly will 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.

“And there are some gems there. I learnt a lot from sev­eral of the Un­cles.

“The big thing I learned 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 busi­ness.”

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 ( co­me­dian) Lawrence Mooney, 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. What he says is ir­refutable. There’s no room for self­doubt,” Zwar laughs.

“I learned that pretty much ev­ery­one has a the­ory but no­body re­ally knows any­thing.” –

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