NEWCASTLE isn't exactly Paris. And that suits Mick Molloy just fine.
"Newcastle's the anti-Paris," Molloy told his national radio audience during his Drive program with co-star and friend Jane Kennedy on Thursday afternoon.
"Solid, decent, hard-working."
Then again, you have to say nice things when you're in the heart of Newcastle, broadcasting from the Triple M studios at Honeysuckle.
Not even the bushfire smoke haze could hide Molloy's rosy view of the city.
"Newcastle's been a favourite haunt of mine over many years," Molloy said in between his on-air conversations with Kennedy, who was in the program's home base of Melbourne.
"I've got a soft spot for the place.
"I reckon the shoreline is one of the most beautiful bits of Australia, bar none. "You're under the radar here.
"It's a classic bit of Australia. It's a classic bit of Australian real estate. They're good people."
As much as he'd probably consider this statement deeply insulting, Mick Molloy is a Renaissance man.
The popular television presenter, movie actor, writer, comedian and radio star was in Newcastle to play yet another role, that of barman, hosting "Mick's Pub Shout" at Merewether's Mary Ellen Hotel.
Actually, Molloy is also involved in a brewery, Brick Lane Brewing, along with a few other well-known Melbourne residents, including broadcaster Eddie McGuire and former Storm player Billy Slater.
"I've got a beer, which I now brew, which people have said is like letting the mice run the cheese factory," he said.
Molloy has taken his beer on the road and on Thursday night met with about 150 listeners/drinkers at the Merewether hotel.
"If you're going to do a pub crawl, a national pub crawl, how could you leave Newcastle off the agenda?," he said to Kennedy Molloy's audience of nearly 2 million.
As well as appearing in pubs and being heard on the airwaves, Molloy can be seen on screens, small and large, at the moment.
He is in the hit Australian movie, Ride Like a Girl, the biopic about Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne.
But Mick Molloy's favourite medium is radio.
"For me, it's a natural home," Molloy said. "Here's what I love about radio as opposed to every other medium. They can't tell you not to say it, they can only tell you not to say it again!"
Yet what not to say is becoming an increasingly fraught topic in comedy.
While he and Kennedy often jokingly say "How dare you!" to each other on air, Molloy is well aware that many take offence at what is meant to be funny.
"The outrage is doing my head in," he said. "For someone who has been fortunate enough to be plying this trade for 25 to 30 years now, it's never more tense.
"We actually get to the end of a show and heave a sigh of relief sometimes that we've dodged a bullet or we haven't offended anyone. Comedy's tough right now."
Jane Kennedy and Mick Molloy have been friends and workmates for about 30 years.
"Jane would probably call it less than that because it would be giving away her age", Molloy said, adding they had worked together in a range of disciplines. "TV, radio, live. Film, we've never worked together.
"Maybe there'll be a remake of Misery or something we could both be involved in!
"But we do get on famously. I think what they do in radio sometimes is they try and manufacture chemistry and they put people together, and they say, 'You go with him and we'll call it the Crazy Crew'. But we actually know and like each other.
"It's hard to distinguish sometimes our conversations off-air to on-air."
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