#466 – Dan Ilic On Breaking The Story/
- September 25, 2019
Dan Ilic – Journalist, comedian and filmmaker
Dan is one of the most prominent voices in the Australian media landscape. Working alongside Andrew Denton, Dan hosted ABC’s hit satirical comedy program, Hungry Beast.
Dan has also worked at Al Jazeera as a senior satire producer, as well as being the executive producer of satire for Fusion Media Group, and the executive producer on ABC’s comedy sketch show Tonightly.
Recently, Dan has brought back his former ABC Radio National show, A Rational Fear in a podcast and live show format, featuring guests like Kate McClymont, Ben Fordham, Alice Workman, Ray Martin, and Lewis Hobba.
On today’s episode of The Daily Talk Show we discuss:
– Hungry Beast and the audition process
– Working with people that challenge you
– Dan’s stint at Al Jazeera
– The difference between Australian and US politics
– Working in a team
– Meeting Brad Blanks
– Being the first to break the story of Heath Ledger’s death
– Shallow journalism
– Differences between the Australian and US media markets
– Dan’s favourite medium
– Dan’s new audio sitcom for Audible
Dan Ilic on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danilic
Dan’s website: http://www.danilic.com/
A Rational Fear: https://www.facebook.com/ARationalFear/
Thanks to Ovolo Hotels for helping us set up a temporary studio while we were up in Sydney: https://ovolohotels.com.au/
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send us mail: PO BOX 400, Abbotsford VIC 3067
The Daily Talk Show is an Australian talk show and daily podcast by Tommy Jackett and Josh Janssen. Tommy and Josh chat about life, creativity, business and relationships — big questions and banter. Regularly visited by guests and gronks! If you watch the show, or listen to the podcast, you’re part of the Gronk Squad.
This podcast is produced by BIG MEDIA COMPANY. Find out more at https://bigmediacompany.com/
It's a daily Talk Show Episode 466. I'm at makeshift studio at the Ovolo Hotel. Hello. We have a special guest with us, Dan Ilic. It's good to be with
you, man. Good to be with you. As I say, media hits they say Good to be with you.
I know you guys don't do this like every day, but
good to be with you some more experience and did a few more shows. Good to be with you.
Glad to have you. Well, one of the other sort of lazy crutch phrases, right that Yeah,
I do. Do you have any when you're speaking with with guests like how, like how you start a conversation? I usually try and start off with a joke that puts them on the back foot.
Yeah. Or hits them attack them personally. Because I know that they know that. I don't mean it. But they have to think about it. What they got to say so it's fun.
What's give us an example. This is where this is happening.
Josh? Oh, used to weigh 120 kilos. Yes. What do you say now? Oh, that's a good question.
fat shaming, finishing Sydney.
I mean, I have been eating a lot of the problem is that I'm doing a keto diet, but also keeping carbs.
out of a trainer does that work? There's no
calories in calories out
good to me really was a great way to start something. And also media people ended with that because I like because it's so cliche, but the best. The best app was by all night, john Lords who lives in this building down the end of the road. Here is Russell Russell Crowe lives. Russell Crowe. He also lives here, right? He's lived in a few places. He's right now he's in coughs. hapa. But, but he doesn't live here. I know this because he tweeted this morning. Yeah, but um, but john was finished a great interview with lace it probably about two years ago. He said he was drinking whiskey at the time. He said, Did you enjoy this? And he said, Yes, I did very much did you every minute of it.
That is how you end an interview.
Then you're the real deal. I'm looking at your phone right here. You're listening to Ken Burns, a master filmmaker podcast or is that a
video podcast? And you will laugh because it's Tim Ferriss. Yeah, I'm Tim Ferriss. I don't listen to Tim Ferriss a lot. But when he does have somebody interesting on I do want to hear what they have to say he gets good people Ken
Burns all I know him for was the transition effect where you would zoom in this way
here and seeing a real live fire alarm here the overload one of the least on fire buildings.
I mean, it's it's on fire because it's so hot right now.
What happens You Get the Perfect turn away building turns on fire.
I hope we don't have to
building habits. I appreciate dance. This is a mapping content King.
You are a professional. I mean, there's only professionals that listen to Kim Jones or just to even know who he is the transition effect guy yeah, I saw you first on hungry beast. Many many years ago. I remember when the it was almost like there were searching for the talent or the searching for the people to apply and I cook Docker, someone I know who who became a co host with you one of Melvin's
man, he's amazing what Tell us about that journey of entering into hungry based
hungry base was really interesting for me, because I kind of had a little bit of TV experience beforehand. I did a sketch show on channel 10. And then I was directing a TV show in in Melbourne, the Charlie Pickering and Michael Chamberlain's show on the comedy channel called the mansion was like a satire show. Then, I really want to do more stuff on camera front facing writing mine writing producing my own stuff. And at the time, I was making ads and content for Get up. And now like any kind of funny ads from the mid noughties, the other ones that I did. And this opportunity came up and I wasn't kind of sure if it was for me because they kind of said it in what anyone would experience. But I just really, really wanted the jobs. Tommy I really loved Andrew Denton and I really wanted to work with with really good people and really challenged so I put a put some stuff together and send it in. And at the time I was also being interviewed for jobs at the project that was just starting up the project was just brand new, hadn't even aired yet and they were crewing up and building this gigantic machine. And we always that 2009 2009 Yeah, 10 years ago, we've got a 10 year hungry based relationship. Next week, actually, oh, when this is four days ago, get a ticket in the past. And
how was the show?
We all got hammered. was just
always after people personal questions on a screen, it was very difficult. And I remember going for the interview and the interview is extremely daunting. It was like an hour long interview you you sat in front of a panel of really experienced producers Andy nail who has produced every amazing show the ABC has ever done, including the chaser, Paige Livingston. Andrew Denton was there thinking needed Jacoby was there too. And they just grilled you for half an hour. And then the second and then he has it looked like a fake interview with Andy Neil, being a politician. And so that was difficult. And then then you're given half an hour to sit in a room by yourself with a video camera with a bunch of props and make up a video on the spot. And then it was really strange. And
I was felt like I was under pressure. A lot for that interview. And it was um, yeah, very, very, very tough.
Do you think those audition processes trying to weed out? People that? What are the what are they trying to find like? Because I think there's people on TV that it should be quirky, that might not do well under that circumstance, but would be great for the show. So it's an approach and what do you think they're actually trying to do to you?
Well, I kind of think that they're looking for creativity, maybe and looking for people who can do can make stuff with not much. I know you would. You're talking to Kelly the lane lane. filmmaker. Eddie Kalia. Yeah, that was that was a really great chat. And, you know, it's funny, like techniques like that she implements. And that we all do as content creators online now. We're kind of just very, starting 10 years ago, because these platforms are just kind of new. So the thing they're looking for people who can create their own content, Adam, not much, and so tell a storey and it was gruelling, like it was very difficult. I really brought my a game, I was really happy with myself. And in the process of that same week, I was going for jobs at it at the project and they wanted me to direct the field stuff the project. I was crazy money. And I sent as approved as other films in email and I said, Oh, hey, I don't know web project called Project next back then. I don't know where project next is up to but I've just been offered a job at the project. So if there's if you know if but I'd rather do project next to the project.
So project next was hungry base
DIKE. I just kept it under wraps the name
Yeah, that was it was just, and I'm sure the project was called the project as a working title, but they just kept the name. So it was one of those things I was walking down Johnson street in, in Fitzroy, and my phone rang. And it was Andrew didn't and I said, Give me a second. Andrew jumped into like a really expensive furniture store. And he said, Hello, Dan. It's Andrew Denton here looks like Oh, hello, Andrew. Congratulations, I hear you've got a job at the project. And I said, Yes, I do. Don't take it. You're gonna join project next. And I was like, all right, fantastic. And so that started my 10 year career of doing really awesome things for not a lot of money. And I learned I made some of my best friends at the bed at hungry based and, and got to work with incredible people and learn a lot from not only Andrew but all the other senior producers there and leader Jacoby poor Kroger, john chasm out who's just this wonderful brain and Andy Neil was has is always an incredible support whenever you need when you ever get stuck in a tricky situation,
what was the learning from that experience, specifically, experience not just from the audition experience, but making the decision between one or the other, I guess it's a real fork in the road or one of those decisions which can really shape you as a creator,
a generally China when I'm picking things for level money, I'm always picking up. And I think I'm, I I'd like to be financially stable. But I like to create good things, and I want to create good work that, that I feel like, I don't like calling myself an artist, but in many ways is kind of like that, where I just want to create lots of really good things. So people can enjoy and people can be delighted and I can stand back and go oh, man, I've made some really good things. Yeah. And every now and then I'll get really sad and upset with myself and like I'm not doing enough or, or I don't have Mike my career might not be where I want my career to be or, or I just kind of missed those options entities or I fucked up opportunities. And but then when I am forced to write a bio or something or update my, my resume when I'm looking for the next job, I go back, I've done so much stuff like yeah, it kind of makes you makes me feel good about the kind of work I've made in the past. So right now, I put out a tweet, but I deleted it because the grammar was bad. But unlike the broken stuff pain in the long time, but I'm also the most creatively fulfilled a long time so and I get a comment like what was the shot I said I've ever been but I'm also the most creative credibly fulfilled I've ever been been alone kind of wasn't. I fucked up the grammar somehow. I was like, That's disgusting. Why
not even take to?
It was all the engagement was
gone. God. Man, I lost so much.
That's why I could have paid for this call, hey, I did.
I get to choose even if
you've got a baby, cut
my hands you speak what he taught me.
So I think it was like that, I think was the right decision. Because that that man I not only have built, made great work, but over the last decade, some of the people who I've worked with on that show, we are like, well, it's like we went to war together. Because it was so difficult. It was arduous. And Andrew is a tough boss. And but in what way, he's very demanding and has a need for perfect perfection and requires a lot on the table. If you ever get the chance to and I'm sure you will eventually get a chance to interview some of his contemporaries who have worked with him, you get a better understanding. But he's so generous and kind. And but you know, in a work in a work setting itself, he's got high standards, and he he really wants the best
Is it the best in regards to production value storey What is he what is it that he focuses, he doesn't
care so much about production value, he cares about ideas, and he's really all the best idea wins kind of mantra and, and executing that in a way that gets the idea across. And sometimes he would go and make us reshoot things to put on YouTube. like he'd say, well, we're going to put that to air. But you need to go and shoot a scene like this in a scene like this. So when it goes on YouTube, it's better forever. And I would begrudgingly go off Fuck off. Looking back, yeah, I don't resent that at all, because he's absolutely correct. And the stuff that had been on on the internet is the legacy really. And so it's it's one of those things where I go fact, you know, that is such a good lesson to learn. And I've kind of taken that with me with the teams that I've ran, like with tonight, way last year. And, and and smaller teams like fusion in America. And it kind of get, get the teams I run to kind of think about that. That kind of concept as well,
when these teams and some of these sort of driving this energy that can sometimes be stressful or feel negative. How do you as a team on the other side process of that, like if you've got a hard boss? Yeah, you know that their intentions are great. But it also feels a certain way to you. How do you how do you how do you live in that space? Or you know, but you within that space?
It's, I leaned into it, because I'd had TV jobs in the past, and I've worked with people who were as demanding, but nowhere near as talented as Andrew. It would be one of those things where
you tell me why I'm talking bad.
Let's reshoot it. Yeah, you're right. It does need 15 more jokes. Yeah.
Your audience that like your audience, rather than like, what do you think about him? More than the actual audience in regards to your filters?
No, I don't think so. But there will be times where I would come up. You know, Andrew was tough and went in hungry based is he said, he's a teddy bear these days. But it's one of those things where if you really fought for an idea, you could get it over the line if you fought hard enough. But sometimes you would, you could lose that fight. So that was that was doing at the end of the day would end it wouldn't be as good. And you say it's a mate, we should have done the way I wanted it. He wasn't he didn't find out enough. Well, fuck next time, I'm gonna fucking dig my heels in, get across the line that YO to do. So is
it respect the you have for somebody that then allows you to you respecting the judgement, even if it doesn't feel amazing?
I think so. Early because it's a medium. It's a medium that they're very familiar with. And they've worked in for a long time. So I didn't, I didn't. I didn't mind that. And also, they're much more successful. I've got no idea at the time, I had no real real runs on the board.
But now it's like,
in and when you have outliers, like Andrew, he's so smart and brilliant. That you can't help but go well, you know, he's right. Yeah. You know, it was one of those things. So you know, that was a real it was a real privilege to work with Andrew and Anita Jacoby brought a lot of the journalists sense to a lot of hungry based and Andy Neil brought a lot of the fighting spirit, Antonio, for people who people wouldn't know his name, but that definitely know, all of his work. He He was one of the producers of the chaser, and so many other shows, and just a brilliant brain, particularly when it came to getting things done. And getting getting around kitty around legal processes, but still playing within the law and, and being able to combat the network like he was. So he was like a wonderful transistor, or a capacitor between us and the network. So all the all the all the network nights would fly through him. And all the complaints from from everyday lyst viewers would go through him and he would reply to all of them and like not, none of that would touch us. So it was really, it was really fascinating to see him work, he just be maniacally laughing in his office at the next complaint that came through. So yeah, really, really fascinating, say, an incredible team that's built that the hungry, the white hungry basis built and, and, and all the people who I've come through with that show, the great thing after three stages of that is that by the by the third, third season, you implicitly trust every single person on that team. And you kind of know their strengths and weaknesses. And not everyone made it to the third season. And so it's it's one of those things where the team that you kind of end up with is super strong. Team of champions and now look at the legacy of where all the people from Hungary based on Yeah, it's incredible, you know, like this. You've got Walkley award winners. You've got palmed your winners, you've got Emmy Award winners in that team, but also
the people that that inspired as well. I remember growing up and watching Hungry basic and it was completely different to anything the bay on air before even
new and exciting.
Yeah, well, I remember like as a technology geek, the motion graphics one of those things that just you just sit and just be like how that you'd be stopping at midway and seeing the info graphics. From an a pre production point of view. How did you interface with with that motion graphics stuff and working it into the ideas.
So a lot of that credit direction came from Patrick Claire, who was the motion graphics laid in everybody wrote. So Pat wrote, Luke wrote another motion graphics guy, Duncan wrote, the other motion graphics guys, everyone was kind of in charge of their own scripts, think getting those scripts scripts through the through the production. And then other folks wrote stuff for them to do as well. So I need to sit down, you kind of envisioned what the ID might be, and you take time to develop what it might be so and the second from the first and second season of hungry based a lot of the base files as they became known as we're extremely complex. And the third season, we made them a lot simpler. Because they took they took like two weeks
to make they took a long time rendering time back then.
It was crazy.
Yeah. So the first season had extremely first and second, they've had extremely complex graphics, and then it kind of kind of dumbed it down a bit just to make it a bit easier for the graphics guys, because I was just being overworked.
Did it change, change lead times? And what did it teach you about being able to communicate your idea to different types of departments? And
I, I'm like a kind of, I kind of love that stuff too. Often. Patrick is one of the extremely special motion graphics, people who he's a director in their own right. And he's a storyteller within the world of which he knows, which is after effects, and 3d modelling. And you can go to him and say, Look, this is the script. Look, how do how do you think it will work? And it's a becomes like a partnership. Like, you'll be like, I reckon this could this this thing you like, Yeah, right. Can you do something? Let me see about, yeah, that's great. And then so kind of build collaboratively this idea. Often, I would write a script and just chuck it to Pat and go, Pat, fix it. Now you're talking to this guy, Pat. I don't know if any of you have watched the crown or Daredevil or True Detective or anything like that. He's done the opening titles of all that show. I
remember hearing True Detective that a busy guy did the opening scene. Unbelievable. So that's the Emmy Award when you said you haven't chased the money. You've done the things you love. You've you've ventured overseas. You've worked in the US. I know. There's been some, you know, storeys that have been written about your times overseas, where you may have lost a job.
Yeah, well, Tommy, Tommy and I to talk about it because it's one of those things where it's like, specifically within this industry, it feels everyone's jumping from place to place. You go from sci fi to Iran, you doing all the jumping around?
Well, you got I mean, yeah, everyone's good. Known every job last forever. Most you're not Dickie, welcome. Yes. 30 years at one company.
Yeah, I'm doing another podcast right after this.
up like stoking tax.
Yeah. So what was that experience? So you were paint the pitcher? What happened?
What went down? IJ. Plus was just starting. And let's
OG 00. Yeah,
at a San Francisco and they had really want to do, they kind of were extremely worthy. After nine months of prepping, they kind of went live. And then I kind of got a job there. As the senior satire person. I don't remember the job interview. I was just coming through the states and visiting. And I've got in front of the the executive producer there. And he's like, and we just finished. So irrational fears, my show. It's a podcast that I do. And it's a satirical comedy podcast. And we just spent a whole bunch of money making digital content online. Like we just spent 13 weeks of crowdfunded money with a great team of my friends in in comedians, just making digital content for 2014. And I was so close to getting it up on telly at the comedy channel. And we went through our like our fifth meeting at the comedy channel. Like we thought this is the one where they got a commission like we've been, we've taken in the Opera House, they've seen our show with the Watchtower content, they love it. We're going back again, we're going back with the second top guy, the comedy channel, at Fox tail. And he sat back and a half an hour maybe went for 45 to 90 minutes and then the end went look I'll be honest with you we spend our money for the next couple of years is like to mission the show called Open slather where they spent $30 million making 15 episodes
of sketch comedy.
And it was aggravating because my budget was 1.5 fifth episode. So I was like, well, that's
that's a real kick in the balls.
And so so despondent and sad about not getting that up. I really felt like it failure because I've been driving irrational fear so hard.
Why did you want TV? or Why do you think TV was the plan for that? Because
it sounds just like unsustainable to do what I wanted to do.
So do you think it's changing in 2019? If you're on the same path, I guess you would go to streaming services or, you know what?
I am on the same path. So I'm looking for, I'm looking for
I'm looking to buy a house in Sydney,
feed my family and my comedy. And it's hard to do without the kind of money that TV can provide or streaming service or network. I mean,
when you're trying to buy Russell Crowe's next door, neighbours
I don't know if I should tell the storey but a good friend of mine rented an apartment in this building where a famous person passed away, and he got extremely cheap in so don't you even don't even care that this person died? He's I know. Can I
get that people die all over the place.
The whole world's a bloody cemetery. Yeah, people die everywhere.
If I can give you one thing.
So you weren't feeling too good after you and
I you know, I went to then I went to America and and also stoked to kind of be accepted in America. And I pitched a pic kind of pitched Al Jazeera comedy, which is very funny in itself. And
context change that you have to do in regards to like is they love OZ. So I've got to apply it like I've got to change this part of my personality,
a lot of time in America. So I don't really, I kind of I kind of bought a used to think that first time I went like 20 years ago, just don't need it doesn't need it. Like it is people from all over the world. So the guy I was pitching to was Syrian. Yeah. And he's like, okay, dude. Well, you know, how do you make Israel and Palestine funny? And I'm like, and I pulled up a sketch which really, three weeks before at Splenda, where we interviewed drunk kids at splendour, about how to fix Israel and Palestine. And it was all Vox pops. It was all done with motion graphics. Not done by Pat Claire, but done by another brilliant artist, Alex Gabbert, and it was just the most hilarious Vox pop, with people often face at splendour, trying to fix Israel and Palestine. And he's like, okay, that's funny, man. You got the job. Sweet. So then I moved over the beginning of that year, and I spent five months working for zero making satire for them. And it was one of those things where they would just throw stuff at me and go, Hey, this journalist can't go to Media Day at the Super Bowl. Can you go? I'm like, sure. Yeah, I don't know anything about Super Bowl. So quickly looked up the baddest things about Super Bowl and kind of went and made, try to make comedy there, then I'll get thrown to see pack the, the conservative little political action committee, a conference in in, in Maryland, where I would go and interview people about, about Muslims in America, or I would try and bring them out, try and create a holy war get people to sign up to the holy war against Muslims, which is funny in itself. And I saw I saw Donald Trump speak, and he would have made about this far away from me
to this 2014 or that was 2015 2015.
And he would to sit in the room and he would go, I don't know if I'm gonna run that meta know, when people go, we're running, running. I don't know, should I run? Yeah.
And so I had to quickly learn, I had to quickly learn about the struggle for me was understanding American politics at the time, I had some idea. But that six months, I was thrust in it. And I had to learn real quick, because the people that were working there was so much smarter than me, had a much broader understanding of geopolitical machinations and Lego nation. So I had to learn real quick. So in that five minutes, I kind of it was like a real baptism of fire. So I got there. And then I just got an American agent. And he's like, you know, the Daily Show, we're gonna be looking for new new people. And I was like, awesome. So I wrote a couple of scripts and recorded them on the green screen at work and edited them and sent them off. And then someone saw me do that. So my producer, so help me do it. She got she had a nose at a place. It was like, Oh, you know, dance doing this. And then somebody else went, what do we what do you mean, Dan's doing that song? You know, that person called someone in Qatar in Doha? And then apparently, the prince of Doha activate. So,
It's like a big media organisation. You've got edit suites, where journalists are like constantly updating this show reels to get a job somewhere else or
them not understanding how the industry work too late. Or do you think were they so committed to you that they were upset that you were potentially turning your back on them? Well,
I don't think I think my boss had my back. My my bosses had my back, which is great. But then this person who was in the office was visiting from Qatar. They didn't like what I did. Yeah, they went above. They went above my bosses and got me fired while I was on holiday with my girlfriend in Manila. So I landed and I got fired. So Was
that it? What was that experience? Like?
I was horrific. My whole world just flipped upside down. I'd moved to America, my girlfriend, and I,
how about how long we NYU and only five months? Yeah.
So I like rented a house.
So then I had to pack up and go home. And so I did that. And and then six months later, did you find find it?
I couldn't find Yeah, I couldn't find it. Because it was came came from Canada. Yeah.
It what's the
that was that's the moment that's like the sliding doors moment for me where I'm like, apply that differently. I don't know if I could have been on the show. But, you know, maybe something else could have happened. But it was just funny. And I kept it on my hat for a few weeks. And then Allie Petroski from from a current affair was visiting San Francisco. And we went out to dinner and she posted Instagram and then pedestrian, right?
Yeah, wow. I mean, how do you get another job? Then? If you can't sort of do it within the Tommy using the equipment? I see. I see where they
did you go back to the office? Or that? Was it like yeah,
like when I just packed up my stuff and left and that was it. Yeah.
It's a real scene out of an American. Yes.
I mean, I think that you have someone that's
thirsty for opportunities, or someone that like you just look at everything that you've done, and you've done so many things. And you could look at that exam
hearing me your
attention. No, but no, I think it's like, you're extremely hard, hard working. And it's one of those things where it's like, I've followed along like, I went to massage my medium
That would have been was my 2010 or
2008 2009. So Mark and Elena I did message map. So we did make a super musical for the first three weeks of comedy festival, then the last week, we did message my medium. And every night, we had a special guest and it was like Mark Chanel and i doing a show about like a young person's media watch. We will kind of deconstructing media in Australia and like, where it might be hitting and, and how, like how fucking Australian media was so backward and how the internet was gonna revolutionise everything.
Because I just had no idea as a young person and like, went to a low socio economic school, like didn't it like how, okay, education, but it was just so many massive gaps. In my knowledge, I felt that like, this was my, I didn't go to uni, or whatever. And this was learning from all the content that you were doing. Yeah, I can, I can see how I've seen your career. And I've seen it. My point being the the opportunities in this, the amount of stuff that you've done is is incredible. Would you looking at the light looking at that lens? Looking at opportunity lens? Yeah. With the Daily Show stuff? What what other option like, Whoa, how could you have done it differently?
I don't think I could have done it too differently. Maybe I could have maybe I couldn't have maybe I just filmed it on my camera at home, you know, the other the other opportunity, which, which other people would have done. But when I was home, in my parents house back in Sydney, and the news came out that ronnie got the job. It made me feel so good. Yes. Is that a bad? Incredible? Ronnie is the best.
He's a friend of yours.
Yeah, yeah. Ronnie is like, lovely bloke. And it's just like, ah, He's talented and killing it. And then it's like, I'm so happy for him. So it was like, it kind of made me it kind of brought closure to that. And you know, just like, running takes me to the match was like, yeah, I'll just bring that bring that to a close. And it felt really good. I was just so stoked for him. So. And then so then I kind of had a few more tilts at the US. And now I'm back.
I think the the American people are more political and Australians.
Yeah, I think some I think some, it depends on the wealth gap. I think I think if you're slightly, if you are rich enough, you don't worry about health care, you might be less engaged, and those people generally don't vote. And if you're and I feel like there's a lot of folks there who have to think about the politics every day in America is politics. And particularly for your person of colour, it is in Australia, the same toe. But there it's it feels like so much more pronounced and everything, everyone's a little bit more on edge. And there wasn't a day when I was at fusion in LA for two years I work there, where I didn't talk about health care, it was one of it. Like in the office, there's enough people to talk about going to the doctor or something What a pain in the ass it was that it was a weird conversation to my ears to have all the time. Because in Australia, we don't have to worry so much about that. But there it's at the top of people's minds, it's this underlying anxiety about how much healthcare costs which doctor, you can go to how you can go to the doctor quickly, within a work hours, this new you within the network that you are paying for, and all this stuff. So super, super low level anxiety, about very basic needs that underlie everything in America. That's all to do with politics. You
can imagine what that does to a human. Yeah, living in a world where they have to think about these things.
What seems like one of those like obvious needs, like project aids or whatever.
It's like, it's so bizarre, like in guns is another thing, but less, less problematic in LA but but it's one of those things where willful republicans don't want gun control, maybe they should be for universal health care, so that when people do get shot, they can get fixed for free?
Yes, you did a bunch of like on the ground work. I remember saying stuff that was you shooting it very solo, the difference between the hungry based experience of being in a team and collaborating versus the difference between you with a backpack and a camera? What do you prefer?
In a team? I'm very collaborative. Yeah, and I don't often don't trust my judgement. So I like other people there to tell me to do it better. Yeah. This one of the things that I was kind of with the experience is great, but there wasn't the time they hadn't. And I was like, one of the more senior people there. So I had to kind of really rely on my own judgement. And I really didn't trust myself. And I really wanted to learn, I was really looking for an opportunity to learn more than I already knew, in terms of Comedy and Comedy creating, and at that point, I was there. I was like, Oh, I say I'm running this whole fake myself. So it's very strange. And likewise, with fusion, I thought I'd be running a team of a few of like, 1015 people to make stuff every day. But when I got there, it was a team of two was like, oh, okay, right. It's a fancy title I've got, but I'm done. Yeah, but I only got two people to do things with All right. Well, let's, let's give it a go. So yeah, I prefer a larger teams to kind of make right so if there's when I came home, yeah, instead of working on tonight, Lee, it was a real thrill to kind of run a team of 40. I was like, Wow, what a cool experience like to run a tip from Richard Tim iterating, a team of 40 really fat, fast, smart, fast, smart, funny, people who can turn things around every day. What is amazing,
what have you found, teams that have smaller can get more done or does a bigger team mean you can get lots more done a
big time engine get a lot more done. But tonight, Lee was separated into small teams and the small teams could turn things around very quickly, can write produce, shoot, edit a sketch all in one day. And the way that that tech the way tonight, it was set up, kind of in four separate field teams. So that was pretty thrilling to kind of see that in action and watch that flywheel effect to go through. And when I kind of took over, I kind of just all I did was kind of step out of people's way, and let them kind of develop their own sense and kind of patched things up as they went along. So it was really, really cool experience is only a small, small teams can get things done pretty quickly. And what we were doing on tonight, it was just phenomenal. How much content we make. We
make sense teams within teams. It's intense, yes, this little operation that the three of us is sometimes more than what I did when I worked in the big stations with 10 people in the show, you
know, super focused and everyone I think it's that because we're doing it every single day, similar to what you were talking about with the hungry based stuff, we've sort of radically had to work out what we're good at what we're not good at, and then pick up the pieces. And also like
this kind of stuff, which you do every day is a muscle. So and you're working this out every day and bombshell by your 50th episode, you can do another one,
the body on Mr. 97 written record and he doesn't even go the gym. It's just this
talking small teams. I was watching old videos that you did with Brad blanks. In the US what I love about Brad, and also your content is the sense of adventure. And just the fish out of out of water staff. What was it like working together?
So Brad and I met at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. And this was a guy who was like, hooked on radio. He's storeys phenomenal. And you know, I know you've interviewed him, going from the Sydney Olympics, reporting for WPOJ. And then two years later, I met him in Salt Lake City, like pretty much at the beginning of his of his radio kind of journey and Erica, and he was just like, Oh, can I go to the interview with this gymnast all good.
And we were fresh, we were going to parties like brand new, where all the parties where he was so connected. And then in the Athens Olympics, we got we got even tighter because Brad got got us all into the sport illustrated parties every week. And there was just chock full of celebrities, and which is fodder for him because of his radio show. And it was just phenomenal those early days with Brad and then then we started making content together. So we kind of at the time, I got back from the Olympics and was mucking around with Ronnie Johnson channel 10. And then I started working at Fairfax after channel 10 making video content for them. And then I kind of pitched video content to Fairfax digital back in the day. This is when you know SMH had money to make videos. I was like so we've got this May, Brad in America, I reckon we can make a little series out of him and I'll run around with him and and go to these big events like Sundance and the SAG Awards and, and the Super Bowl and and just you know it's an Ozzy country rz blog in New York City trying to meet celebrities to check out America. And they're like, great, go do it. And I can't of how much did they give you?
Yeah, we had to work out the budget. It meant like,
like five grand. And so I I had enough to me to buy a ticket and borrow a camera and spend some time over there.
Like it because I noticed over the years I've undersold myself based on this is a fucking great idea. If I if I get this cross a line, it's a win, like yeah,
at the time, I was, like 2008, I was like 27. And I just thought this would be the best fun ever. And I didn't think about you know how much money I need to live over there. And at the time, I was video editing. So I was making lots of money, being a video editor on stupid, hourly, right to make terrible corporate videos. So had lots of money saved up. It was just like, Well, how about how would you like these videos? Do you have 5000? Great, let's go back it. That was great. And then later on another another series for Fairfax, where I got 2500 from Fairfax and 2500 from a company called heavy calm and made content as a co pilot with them. And so Brad and I would just travel around and do these zany videos. Brad was always bad at being structured. So what I kind of brought to him was a little sense of like storytelling and structure for those videos. I was like, okay, Brad, this is what we're going to set this up the solution. Let's get through it. Tell me what you think you tell me what you think you tell me what you thinking. Maybe say a lot of this in a bit of a funny way. It is like Yeah, great. God, this is great. Dan, this is great. Yeah, we refresh it. Yeah, we were just like, we became brothers. And it was, um, Brad's one of my best mates. And I was, uh, just making crazy content with him all over all over the place. And one of those clips we did at Sundance, and it was great. We're making these talks about videos with with people in the red carpet and, and it was all crammed into like three weeks, so SAG Awards, the adult video, the porn awards, the Super Bowl, and Sundance. We're all kind of in the space of two weeks, and then Brad would fly us all over around the country to get to film it. We're at Sundance, and we're at this party, like two o'clock in the morning and had it was the party for the wackiness and Mary Kate Olsen was in it. And and I use before six years before was a ski locker room attendant at the deer at the storey arcs and lodge where I put her boots on her feet. And a new new tab that's like Oh, Mary Kay, remember me? Dan from the locker room?
No, go away.
And Brad and I were totally stockbrokers who financed another film at Sundance, and they know Brad crispbreads, like a celebrity in radio circles in New York and they're like, hey, Brad, how are you getting home tomorrow? Brad's like oh, I gotta VW Matthew Perry tomorrow so you know we're going to get the red light red Helen tomorrow. And they're like, Hey, don't get the red eye. Come on with us. We got a corporate jet and we got space come on and we great now now and I got a new Matthew Perry in the morning. And I better not walking through the snow home and to our apartment. And I was like Brad
what do you what do you do?
You're gonna interview Matthew Perry 10 years after friends is finished. Or you get to fly home from Sundance in a corporate jet
with daddy's blackberry the time and cold called the
still has that we saw in last.
And he called he called Dave the chief he's like chief chief. Do you have two seats? Great. We'll see you there 7am all right great right it's like Trey I'm so we slept for a couple hours get the taxi dab of Salt Lake and we're waiting it's fine corporate is amazing. Like there's no lines there's no tickets there's no there's no nothing it's like you turn up and get on the plane you leave
you need your passport.
Tommy said flying before
you show some form of
ID I can't even remember doing that because we just turned up Dave that stock market and I was like come on boys. This guy is on the plane but as we're waiting there Brad's like starving. And he's there's like a vending machine with noodles and he get some noodles he sitting at eating his noodles. There's just such topic. Oh, yeah. This is great. And Dave walks It is like Brad, what are you doing? We've got food on the plate.
Oh fuck you rock you rock
line and we're we're flying and dive like so you know treat yourself we got magazines DVDs you know whatever Cheryl cookie something whatever you want blah blah blah. There's drinks just you know have a good time. And and then the guy there was this guy called Jackie the joke man from Howard Stern Show he was on the plane to and he's like, why would you Why would you want to watch a DVD when you get listen to an old man regale you of radio past so that he was telling storeys about cocaine and strippers and how howard stern? And
I guess he probably would it like he was off howard stern at that point. He was
he's got an email list you can subscribe to and he sent you a list of terrible jokes every day. And that was amazing. And we're like, Jackie, the joke man just got these incredible storeys and hate many calls. It's like,
we landed, we land in New Jersey and and we're all trying to organise a taxi and guys, like, Don't worry, we got you got your car, you know, get your car and just hop in and go to your go to your home. So Brad at the time was living in Pennsylvania. And
in he kind of goes down right it over the years. The first time I visited him was would have been 2002. And he was in the presidential suite at the hotel Pennsylvania because the hotel Pennsylvania was a sponsor of WPOJ radio station,
those sponsors he talks about deals that you had
the biggest night and the hundreds of it and I looked after that was that was part of his deal. Yes. And then. But by 2009 he was he left a little room. But still. And so when they a day early, we didn't expect beta we thought would be there the next day. And so we're trying to figure out what our content we can do when you get out USA was happening. And it was happening up at the Lincoln centre. And Brad lived down at Madison Square Garden. So Midtown so we're going to have a shower, put on our suits and head uptown to go and interview rz celebrities today USA me john travolta and other people going to be there too. And then I'm in the shower. And I hear Brad in the bedroom going What? Ah fuck. Fox. Fox shit. All right. Thanks, Mike. Like Dan, hey, glitches did was like Wow. So we try to figure out what we're going to do. We hop in a cab,
we always hate ledger at the time,
New York City. He was in Greenwich Village. He just it was just after Batman. And we didn't know where he lived in Greenwich Village. We just knew he lived in Greenwich Village. And so that guy on the phone was a guy who at the time was just finishing, having sex with the Chief of Staff of the New York Post. And as rz blush. And so he the first person he called after, after he had a conversation with this guy was Brad. And so just by fluke we found this out. We're right. So we're racing down to Greenwich Village. And it's about eight o'clock in the morning Australia time. So I stopped will CD Tom so I stopped calling Sydney Morning Herald and was like explaining what we found and how we're just gonna go down and check it out and see if see if we can find anything else out and, and running around Greenwich Village trying to find hates house and so on you this cup of tea bags and then knocking on the doors. At this time. It was probably about five o'clock in the afternoon.
How are you trying to reflect it? What are you thinking about? Like, Is it someone down the street that saw him the day before? Or what do you what are you looking for in that moment?
Yeah, where I just I'm just looking for answers. That's it trying to find any clothes. Yeah, no idea where Yeah, I just know he lives in the village. And so there's Ozzie bows and then I went to Craig and asked them there's another OZ cat. I asked them couldn't find it. Then I saw news and got around the corner. So I'll maybe I'll just follow that news fan. So I like running after this news fans, ABC News. And the news and pot right at the front of a house with cops out the front. I was like well, this could be this could be it. So I just stopped filming. And then I call Brad and tell him where we are, where I am. He comes down and joins me and and then we start filming and we kind of just kind of we didn't i didn't know what the hell I was doing. I wasn't really a journalist back then. I was sort of camera we using like a
7170 or something. So
I had hired or borrowed a very expensive Sony HDV camera from my mate Brendan Smith who's a came out CHANNEL SEVEN one or something. He said one that is nice. But on the plane to Vegas, it's smashed and broke Na Na in in when we checked it in so we were using Brad's shitty one chip canon, Canon camera, shooting on mini DV. And Brad came and met May we kind of were just getting a roll of stuff. And no one was really speaking. There was no other journalists. There was an AP photographer, ABC News man, the AP photographer took a photo of me at the front of his house. And that photo. He's on the Sydney Morning Herald article about a Heath Ledger's death. And in the front, you can see me in my backpack filming. And so Brad turns out and I said Brad, can you just hang here with the camera? I take my laptop, I FireWire, the footage from my camera to my laptop, give the camera to Brad and he said sort of bread you just keep filming get what you can. I'm going to be at the Starbucks two blocks away. So I run to the Starbucks and upload the footage to my FTP
by have to pay server
you're talking Mr. 97.
File Transfer so that you use like a web server, like Dropbox or you own it. And so, and I call Fairfax and say look this what we just what we know this you're at will have more information. So they're they're downloading the footage. And because I'd alerted to them what had happened. They started writing the storey. And by the time they were ready to hit publish on the storey they needed confirmation. Brad came in the Starbucks and he's like, Damn, I got it. I got it. So he was while I was uploading my B roll. He got confirmation from a cop about what happened. And I quickly jammed the camera into my laptop at Starbucks and downloaded the footage and uploaded the conversation over the Starbucks Wi Fi and Fairfax got it ripped it turned into video confirmed the storey they were the first to break it in the world. I think Perez Hilton bitten by like 10 minutes or something like that with the first news organisation to break a comeback Twitter really wasn't a thing. It was new. And then we ran up town to interview the celebrities on the red carpet and they had found out at that point. And so we were out. We've interviewed all these all these celebrities ran downstairs in the Starbucks on the nice then download the footage and uploaded footage to to Fairfax. And so we kind of broke we kind of were the first to kind of break this storey It was like kind of this confluence of digital digital storytelling kind of makes journalism in a real really tangible way. It was it was the first time I really, really kind of was a was a journalist rather than a comedian. And it really was super interesting. Time and you had a certain rush it was a very sad storey but the same time. For me. It's it's at the time I was extremely satisfied. It was it was it was thrilling to kind of be in that space.
Well guess that's why there is saying it. There's There's 24 hour news because there is it is an entertainer like it is a form of entertainment for many people.
Yeah. But you know, but we're also trying to break it first and bracket right? Yeah, all that stuff. And it was it was a really strange experience to be in, in a taxi token to editors, Morning Herald and, and uploading footage and all over the places like before there was for JE or any kind of wireless and so
we think about how do we do this tastefully? Like when you from the Jed? Yeah.
Well, I mean, that was that was one thing like the one of the editors this morning heroes like in denim, someone said that Mary Kate Olsen was with him at the time because he was literally dying. And I said no, that's not true. I was with Mary Kate last night at the Sundance Film Festival. So that was absolutely not true.
I remember that though. People were saying that she was.
And so I got to I got to debunk that. Because I was with Mary Kay that night. They've
heard like the news thing, because there's people who have a whole career chasing that and doing that
as I really find it was the US correspondent the styling was there. And and I didn't meet any of the local Fairfax people because I was just it was just an idiot. And, and Brad overheard them. He said, Dan, that's the Australian guy. This is a nice cold guy there. He's really pissed off. He said he said this fucking cunt got it foot before us. was like,
I mean, they totally de sensitise you guys had come from like a, you know, outer space and followed it and you know, I treated it like you did. But the job is to be pretty black and blue.
Yes, storey go get it? Yeah, get it done. Got it was it was a it was a big storey. And I think from for me, it was no skin like I had no skin in the game as to whether we broke it or whatever. But for him and the other journos there that were from Australia, that I didn't have didn't have given I would have probably been raked over the coals for not
getting it first. It's an interesting case study in that the new media and that different way of doing things. I feel like at that time, citizen journalism was just becoming that sort of big thing. And people being able to use, you know, their devices to capture that stuff
in the media websites and stuff like that. That was kind of a big thing back then. And it was still all new. As your new Fairfax issued. Journalists with awful smartphones that could record video back before the iPhone was was really a thing and things like that as well. So yeah,
it was what is your thoughts on sort of the shallow media or that the media that's just doing stuff on the surface versus the that sort of more feature content, where they're going in and really reporting on something for a long portion of time? What do you mean? So I guess, with Twitter and those, those sort of being able to be quick to a storey This is giving the detail of a storey I think
you're going to be I think you have to be if it comes to the battle between quick and right, I think it would be right. And you want to make sure the storey is correct before it goes out. Because that's what you do as a journalist you want to you want the truth. So if I was already on falling fast, or falling smarter, fall smart. And make sure you have all your ducks in a row. So yeah, that's that kind of what I think Yeah. And then I think you need a mix of both. I think you need breaking storeys in bite size chunks. And then you can with hindsight, you can look at a bigger picture. We're talking bit more in depth. And I think both both things have a place.
spending so much time in the US. How does it change your perspective of Australia?
Generally, I think we're doing some really good things. But I think the media market here is six years behind.
Why is that? I mean, we're pretty far away from the States.
I think knowledge, I think scale scale of audience is a big thing. So we're all battling for a small audience in Australia. And I think I think there's a reluctance to experiment with new forms. When it comes to digital storytelling or digital products. There's no reason why in Australia, we don't have a, in my mind, there's no reason why we shouldn't have a great Vox style broadcast or publisher in Australia. We've got some experiments going junkies doing moving into that space, which is great pedestrian, and moving into the pop culture version of that space. And they've got money from platforms like Facebook to make video content. So you might see more of that from from junkie, but there's no one doing. There's not I don't think there's anyone doing it in a more serious fashion in a more scalable fashion. So it's, it's hard. It's really hard in Australia to kind of make that make that work because we just don't have the audience to get the money from a brand or appetiser. Right right now brands still pummeling so much money into TV. And but the audience is disproportionately not there. So the audience isn't in television, but brands are still piling so much money into it. The audience is shifted online in a major way The only people that are watching TV are boomers, and bless them. They watch stuff which is great. But young people anyone under 40 doesn't watch TV as much. Yeah.
What's your favourite medium?
I really like this all the phone. I think
it's a good Tambor,
could you break a big storey
map then followed by paper mache a really
I love I love podcasts. And I love radio. I've hosted a lot of ABC Radio in Sydney. And that was that, right? Like hosting breakfast and city was one of the highlights of my patchy career because it you feel like you're you're driving the city. You know, like you're in charge of the city for the days when were you doing that to the 2014 for I went to the States, I was filling in a lot on seven. All the shifts. And when I filled in for breakfast over summer was just great. It's quite fun. Getting up at like 4am. And
if you actually enjoyed getting up bed early, I loved it last week got up early the other day and I was thinking about our friend Jace Hawkins who does breakfast in Melbourne and just thinking about our that's his every every day, which I think would be pretty intelligent
been 14 probably 330. So yeah, if you go to the today show,
can I say Ben it's great to see you moved a neutral bullet to the office
doesn't have to listen to your
smoothie making it for I am you selfish
thing you could do is like you can only pick one that the medium, is it audio, is it video, is it written.
And I think
I think audio is pretty special. Like what you what you guys are doing now is really special. You're building an audience from from what you're doing. And I'm sure your audience is very appreciative when they join you. Because they think you're it's very intimate. You know, you're you're talking directly to your audience. And you're building a friendship and a relationship with that audience. And that's really special. And I think you can build good audiences with audio. And that's why I do the podcast. That's why do irrational fear, which is a great vehicle for not only for comedians, but for to have real discussions about not only for comedy, but several discussions about real issues in the world. So I kind of enjoying, I've been enjoying building that up, like our audience has grown 10 times this year, since we've started it back up again it, which is really cool. And we've taught all around Australia with it. And people turn up which is great. We just did a show in camera couple weeks ago. And it was like this full show photo people filled with people who wanted to hear irrational fear. And I was like, Wow, this is so good and so loud, I think in camera because they're so thirsty for entertainment,
But it was such a thrill to kind of go there and be appreciated by the audience. So yeah, I think audio is really is really a great vehicle at the moment. And people people joke about how there's so many podcasts and everyone's going to podcasts. But the listening isn't anywhere comparable to radio. And there's such an opportunity there to kind of move those listeners over definitely to podcasting in America. Why
don't you tell us about this audible deal that you've just done?
Oh, yes. So for the last year, Mark Humphries, Evan Williams in KC ending and I have written a show
audio sitcom for audible. And
it's roughly the breaking bad of a conservative commentator. It's a late night irrelevant commentator, who calls it a show at midnight, all of a sudden, gets thrust into the breakfast slot and learns how to be racist and becomes really popular. And, and then starts a has started an event, which sees him having to go into exile overseas. And I'll just say that he's in exile overseas. And then he ends up having to, he ends up saying, it sounds so dumb. Just go scuba diving, the boat disappears, and he ends up having to come back to Australia by an asylum seeker. But there's more. There's more to that storey, but it's icon half hours. And we're doing a final jog past this week on the scripts. And they are so funny. And I'm really proud of it. And I can't wait to get a production at the end of this month.
What's what surprised you about dealing with audible? versus say, the traditional networks? Or is it the same
or living hands off to a large degree, they've had notes when it comes to legal and cultural things. So all of our scripts went off to the UK to be edited and the UK guy, and I were really good for most part. And then it comes to stuff like references in the script to walks as someone who's Lebanese and Serbian identifies a word. So it's totally fine for me to do that. He's like, he can't say that. That's as bad as the N word here. I'm like, What are you talking about? Like walks out of work.
Australian culture like,
here's what's happening in Australia. He's like, I can't believe
this is how it works. I know we had a joke. We had a fake sponsor in the in the in the show, but we had this fake ad. And it was like,
such a show was sponsored by Koon cheese, it's a family night and get over it.
And he's like, you definitely can't have that you can't YB races for the sake of being races. I'm like, it's a name of a chase.
I can't believe you didn't like this, why we put it into because its dominance.
So we have to get rid of that. So it's funny, like the cultural, the cultural stuff is interesting. And we are playing to a global audience. So we kind of want to make sure that it's funny enough that if you if you are in America, or the UK, you could enjoy it. But if you were striving to have another level of laughs
can't wait to binge Listen, is it going to be something where it's all available at once? Or is it going to come? Like
it should be? Yeah, we haven't said production yet. So it's I've never made an audio drama before. And I understand it's very difficult. So it's going to be very interesting.
later on this year, how do we end it? I know that we're going to be with you.
Well, I want to quickly get clarification you talking about being a walk Dan lake or Dan Village. Okay, so
I've kind of gone between the two. Yeah, I used to be a witch. And then in high school, people just started calling me Alec, because that's how you say it phonetically said I was elect for a long time. And then, and then media, it was easy just to be like it was people didn't. People couldn't understand the silence. And no one called, like, for instance, Carlos to find out which would never win a gold lady. But how called Stephen Avik. So I was thinking maybe career wise, I'll just colonised my name,
maybe a ledge.
Radio, I changed it on a ledge. Because that way I could be seen as a diversity Hi. Well, it hasn't really worked. I'm still not employed by the NSA on radio there. But it was I was a witch for a while. But now I'm engaged. And my fiance is white. And she's like, you just I just can't be. I just can't be Mrs. Ilitch. I have to colonise My name again, because it's easier. So I will accept both. And if you ever listen to the podcast, I introduce myself because
that's where it was confusing. It's funny because I normally would just be like, the easiest thing to do is just hear them say their name. And then you hear it a couple of different ways.
I'm playing them to audiences, I'm playing to my dad and then the rest of the babies
then lick, flush it which
grant I mean, which.
Thanks so much for coming out. When you're in Melbourne. It'd be great to have you in studio as well. You've got some epic storeys, and it is one of those things where it's like podcasting has actually been around for ages. And I've seen you doing so much of the shit that everyone's only talking about now. And so I'm really excited for the next chapter for you because you were doing the shit that now people are finally fucking talking about. So I
just enjoy my Tick Tock. It's the future.
Did you enjoy this?
Yeah, thanks so much for coming on. Good to be with you.
asked me if I
did you enjoyed every minute of it.
It's a daily talk show. Please leave us a review on the apple podcast app if you enjoyed it. Otherwise, Go fuck yourself.
You said to my swearing on this podcast.
Maybe you can you
guys catch you