Magic Eye Tricks Don’t Work on Radio

One of the things that makes comedy so enjoyable is that it’s really hard to disguise if you’re a bit of a prick. Sure, all art is personal, but comedy – or at least, the current fad for confessional-style stand-up that has made 70% of Australian “comedy” nothing more than people talking about themselves on various panels – requires the practitioner to put themselves out there a bit more than most. Which raises the question: what exactly is the deal with Kate Langbroek?

As part of the promotion for her return (alongside Dave Hughes) to commercial radio, there’s a hefty joint interview in the Fairfax press. Hughsies side of things is fairly inoffensive: when he says stuff like this:

Katie and I do talk to each other about wanting to be better people. To be more peaceful, basically. To stop judging others, and to give up caring what people think. When you do all that, it’s the most relaxing thing. I highly recommend it.

It seems somewhat likely that he means it. When Langbroek, on the other hand, says this:

Hughesy cares much less about comedy reviews now. That’s one thing we have in common. We’re both – I don’t know how to put this without making people throw up – trying to be better people. Trying to be less petty, less jealous, less inclined to find fault.

It’s promptly followed up with this:

The more success has come to him, the less it has mattered to him. Still, how has he never won a Logie? What the f— is that about? Look at some of the f—ing fools and numpties and charlatans who’ve won – then consider the contribution to the show business landscape he’s made. It’s crazy.

Lucky this seat has a headrest, otherwise we’d be suing her for whiplash. And not just because we’re struggling to figure out exactly what it is that Hughes has done in television to deserve a Logie. Um… he was on a bunch of panel shows? Don’t you have to at least have to be the host of a panel show to be in the running?

(maybe she means he should have won one for his acting on those shows. What, you mean he’s not really mates with Peter Helliar?)

The real gold in this interview though is this gem:

People do get a bit taken aback when Hughesy tells them he expected to be successful. You’re not supposed to say, “Actually, I’m good at what I do”; you’re supposed to go, “Oh no, I’ve just been very lucky.” I can’t bear it.

There are few things in life more odious than some millionaire going on about how their success is entirely down to their own skills and abilities. “Yeah,” they smirk, “all you losers are losers because you’re losers; I’m a winner because I’m a winner.” Except that anyone with even a moderate amount of perspective and empathy knows that’s not true: sure, talent and hard work have their place, but plenty of people with loads of both never succeed while others luck into the kind of break that sets them up for life.

For example: in 2001 Dave Hughes, Dave O’Neil and Kate Langbroek made up the core of Melbourne community radio station Triple R’s breakfast team (AKA “The Breakfasters”). In December 2001, Nova FM – the first new commercial radio station to start in Melbourne in 21 years – went on the air. Their breakfast program? “Hughsie, Kate & Dave”. Nova had simply hired the Triple R team outright.

You know what luck is? Being a breakfast radio team on a high profile community station when for the first time in 21 years there’s a brand new commercial station in town that needs a breakfast team. It’s called “being in the right place at the right time”; how do you rationalise that away as being “good at what [you] do”?

Put another way, everyone else who’s worked on The Breakfasters over the years has been good at what they do, but while a bunch of them have gone onto bigger things none of the teams have been lifted wholesale onto commercial radio the way Hughsie, Kate & Dave were. Sure, they made the most of the opportunity; that doesn’t mean they weren’t lucky to get it.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Langbroek had been a regular on The Panel; Hughes was part of the Glasshouse team. If their careers at Nova had fizzled out, no doubt both of them would have continued to find work. But there’s a reason why you’re not supposed to say “I’m good at what I do” when you work in the media: no matter how good you are, if you have any kind of long-lasting success at all you should consider yourself lucky.

Unless, of course, you’re some kind of prick.

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  • Billy C says:

    I’m going to have to correct you here. Dave Hughes was never a Breakfaster. He was a regular guest, maybe once a week in the same way many Melbourne comics have had segments over the years. Dave O’Neil and Kate Langbroek were on together.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    He was a pretty high profile regular guest then, considering he’s the only one we remember from the Dave & Kate days. And doesn’t being the only regular guest they took with them make him even luckier?

  • Billy C says:

    I think he rang in once a week from memory. His profile was high at the time because he was selling a lot of tickets and he had been on The Glasshouse earlier in the same year.