At any given time there is a “golden child” of Australian television whose face dominates prime-time programming as well as magazine covers at the supermarket check-out aisle.
For the best part of a decade comedian Rove McManus was the chosen one. The three-time Gold Logie winner hosted variety talk shows Rove, Rove LA and Rove Live, presented Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and was a regular on radio.
Then he all but disappeared, choosing to work behind the scenes with his production company Roving Enterprises, which is responsible for Channel 10’s The Project.
Given his success, and the nature of his television presenting work, McManus should be confident to the point of arrogant and in love with the sound of his own voice, right?
Quietly spoken, humble and self-deprecating, he is generous in conversation and loves a laugh. We spend way too much time giggling and talking about our favourite lines from Happy Gilmore.
Two years ago McManus quietly made his return to the stand-up circuit and is about to premiere That’s Me Talking to a Newcastle audience. He relishes the challenge.
Read about Spiegeltent Newcastle here: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5227860/big-top-returns-with-high-flying-show/
“For me it’s not just about getting up and doing the same routine every time so you’re guaranteed a laugh. I really enjoy pushing myself to do new material when I can,” he tells Weekender.
“It’s a polished show but even within what will be a well-structured hour I always make sure I give myself moments where I can go off script, or off track, and take a detour and see where I end up. And sometimes you find those are the moments that bring new material and the best moments.
“I’ve been a regular at a night called Comedyish run by the Chaser boys, and it is a new material night that attracts emerging talent or experienced hands who are trying to run through material they haven’t done before.
”I’ve also been doing a weekly live show on stage called The Popular Experiment with a bunch of young comedians and it has been really creatively inspiring for me.”
McManus says his decision to start a talk show in the early 1990s wasn’t popular with television executives at first.
“I was a fan of the talk show variety genre from the States but there were a lot of jokes or references that I just didn’t get. I thought it would be great if we had one of these for our market, that spoke to our audience, which is what drove me to get the show up and running in the first place,” he explains.
“We hadn’t had much in the way of light entertainment since the days of Tonight Live with Steve Vizard.”
Rove and particularly Rove Live were not only wildly popular, but also provided a platform for the likes of Peter Helliar and Carrie Bickmore who have gone on to become “chosen ones” in their own right. McManus has a definite eye for comedic talent.
“Look, you can’t watch Peter Helliar and not think he’s hilarious, or see Carrie Bickmore and know that there is a star in the making. I have been able to give people an opportunity, which is all anybody really wants in this industry. It’s seeing talent, asking them what they want to do and being the person who can say yes.”
His co-star Jane Harber on Show Me The Movie is a case in point. She is best known for her acting work on Offspring and The Moodys however McManus wants to introduce Australian audiences to her humour.
“Jane is one of those people I’ve known socially over the years, one of those industry friends you see at red carpets and what have you, and she is incredibly funny. Very sharp, very witty and a bit naughty,” he says. “I’m looking forward to people seeing the other side of her.”
Spiegeltent Newcastle’s 2018 season runs from March 27 to April 15. Rove McManus will bring his That’s Me Talking show to the venue on April 11. Tickets are on sale now. Blanc de Blanc will show every night throughout the festival, at various times. Go to spiegeltentnewcastle.com for details. Also on the line-up is:
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