I would hope that most of you here in Australia would be aware of the comedy duo known as Hamish and Andy. For those of you that don’t: look them up. Hamish and Andy are best known for their radio show ‘The People’s Show’ (not its actual name but it might as well be) – now going on six years on air – as well as various antics and appearances on TV. Recently, they began a ten part TV series called Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year, which kicked off on July 28. After watching the first two episodes, I wondered what it was that made these two so funny and, after great deliberation, procrastination, and admittedly limited research, I believe I have a well thought out explanation.
BEFORE YOU READ ON: Keep in mind that I have only been in Australia for around 8 months as I am writing this. What I have written is done so from the viewpoint of an American with 8 months’ worth of exposure to Hamish and Andy. If you find this post lacking in any way, feel free to add your thoughts via the comments section below.
I started by looking at the chemistry of the “entity” that is Hamish and Andy. On the one hand we have Hamish: generally the freer spirited of the two, noticeably more relaxed in personality and, in general, responsible for the variety of one-liners and silly humour found on the show. On the flip side we have Andy: easily the more serious of the two, usually pointing out flaws in Hamish’s plans for grandeur (Fred Basset on the Radio, the drum machine, etc.) and he generally seems to be the more responsible of the two. Hamish and Andy have made excellent use of what I will refer to (probably only once) as the Comedy Duo Formula (or CDF, because I’m that lazy). The newly proclaimed CDF states that a successful comedy duo requires two personalities that contrast in such a way that doesn’t prevent the duo from getting along, but gives enough difference to provide a good balance and variety to cover all bases of comedy (and keep the audience entertained). Generally, a good contrast to use (according to the highly notable CDF) is that of the serious versus the exuberant personality, as shown with Hamish and Andy. Another duo that backs up the highly credible CDF is Simon and Lewis of the Yogcast, recently well known for their YouTube videos covering their adventures in the great “indie” game Minecraft.
After I had established the CDF, I couldn’t help but wonder what else there is to Hamish and Andy that sets them apart from the rest. Also: would Hamish and Andy be the same with two different people? What if, instead of Hamish and Andy, it was two completely different guys who met at university? What if they weren’t Australian? How would that impact the show? In my opinion, trying to be completely un-biased, I believe that the success of Hamish and Andy comes down to something a bit deeper than the infallible CDF. I believe that without the two unique personalities of Hamish and Andy, the show just wouldn’t have that special flavour of comedy that it does now; the kind of comedy that provides its share of quality entertainment - while at the same time being willing to take part in some cheap laughs. I for one have not met or witnessed anybody else with their style of wit and comedy. That being said … of the two of them, I would have to say that Andy is the most replaceable (sorry Andy) simply because, and this is just my opinion, the role of the serious personality is easier to do than that of the exuberant personality.
Another factor that I think goes beyond the marvels of the CDF is the fact that Hamish and Andy are Australian. After having spent about 8 months in Australia so far, being able to observe and note the various customs and cultural differences as compared to America, I feel safe in saying that there is something about Australian humour that places it above most others. I get the feeling that if Hamish and Andy were from America, they simply would not be as funny as they are now.
So, what do you think? Does the CDF have any merit? What about your thoughts on Hamish and Andy: are you a fan? More importantly, what do you think makes Australian humour different or better than other countries’ such as the USA? Comment below!