Q&A

An­thony “Lehmo” Lehmann, co­me­dian & pre­sen­ter, 49

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - Front Page - By Cathy Os­mond Pho­tog­ra­phy Ju­lian Kingma ◖ ◗

The In­vic­tus Games, which you’re co-pre­sent­ing on ABC TV, fea­ture “adap­tive” sports in­clud­ing sit­ting vol­ley­ball and wheel­chair bas­ket­ball. Are you across the rules yet? I’ve been re­ally get­ting my head around the 18 coun­tries and the 11 sports. In the sit­ting vol­ley­ball, for in­stance, there’s one im­por­tant rule: you must have one butt cheek on the ground at all times. I as­sume there’s a judge on the side­lines on butt watch en­sur­ing ev­ery­one has at least one cheek on the floor.

What’s the most amaz­ing sport to watch? Wheel­chair rugby, or mur­der­ball – they go at 110 per cent and there is ab­so­lutely no fear out there. You’ll see com­peti­tors fly­ing all over the place. You re­ally do sit in awe at how hard they go.

Should we be bar­rack­ing for our Aus­tralian ser­vice­men and women to win? You’re ab­so­lutely en­cour­aged to bar­rack for Aus­tralia, but we’ll be re­mov­ing the fo­cus on an over­all win­ner na­tion and em­pha­sis­ing the com­mu­nity as­pect.

You’ve done sev­eral tours of duty of your own – as a com­bat en­ter­tainer. Does that make you the mod­ern Lit­tle Pat­tie? Lit­tle Pat­tie was ac­tu­ally on the first trip I ever did, to the Mid­dle East in 2005. She’s an am­bas­sador for forces en­ter­tain­ment and we toured to­gether… it was fan­tas­tic to hear her sto­ries. She went to Viet­nam as a 17-year-old and was on­stage in 1966 when the Bat­tle of Long Tan be­gan nearby.

Is safety some­thing you think about? I’ve never felt afraid on any of these trips be­cause the Aussies take such good care of you. When I was at the base in Kan­da­har, the Tal­iban would reg­u­larly fire rock­ets into the base. But the Aussies were pretty re­laxed about it. I said to one bloke, “Aren’t you wor­ried about the bombs?” and he said, “Nah, they’re not that good.”

What mo­ti­vated you to do that first tour? It sounded like a re­ally fun ad­ven­ture. I thought this is re­ally cool – I get to go to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE and I get to do stand-up. When I got there and I saw the work our troops were do­ing and the con­di­tions, I just fell in love with them. As soon as I got home I said, “I re­ally want to go back again”. These peo­ple are on de­ploy­ment for six months, away from their fam­i­lies. To bring them a lit­tle slice of Aus­tralia is re­ally sat­is­fy­ing. How do you tai­lor your rou­tine to them? Just by ob­serv­ing their strange ways. In Basra on Christ­mas Day 2005, I was get­ting on a Hercules with An­gry An­der­son and Beccy Cole… I’m lin­ing up to put my hand lug­gage through the X-ray and there are guys in front of me putting though guns, grenades. And I’m think­ing: “What are you look­ing for? My nail clip­pers?”

You’re from Pee­binga, South Aus­tralia. It sounds ex­otic… There’s not much go­ing on there. At the mo­ment six peo­ple live in Pee­binga, so we’ve had a pop­u­la­tion boom. I grew up on a farm and had 5000ha to kick the footy in. I wouldn’t ever move back but will be eter­nally grate­ful I grew up there.

What did host­ing ABC Grand­stand this footy sea­son mean to you? My dad died last year and one of my beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries is of be­ing at footy games with him when I was a kid; he’d have his tran­sis­tor ra­dio glued to his ear lis­ten­ing to the match of the day. He’d al­ways pass it me when they gave the scores from the other games. I had to pinch my­self when I got the ABC gig.

You have a son, Lad­die, with wife Kelly. At two, how’s he com­ing along as a Hawthorn sup­porter? He watched the grand fi­nal and even though Hawthorn weren’t play­ing, he yelled “Hawk­ers!” at the TV a few times. That made me very happy. starts to­mor­row at 7.40pm on ABC and ABC iview, and at 8pm from Mon­day.

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