TV

Tom Gleeson tells: "I feel responsible for Sophie Monk's heartbreak!"

We turn the tables on Hard Quiz host Tom Gleeson.

By Thomas Mitchell

For comedian Tom Gleeson, making people laugh is a serious business. With his deadpan delivery and dry-as-a-desert style, he's built a career out of being hilarious, but also hard to read.

It's this same formula that has seen the 43-year-old transform from celebrated stand-up comedian to one of our favourite TV hosts.

His "Hard Chat" segment on The Weekly With Charlie Pickering never fails to impress, while his ABC show, Hard Quiz, recently began its third season on air. Luckily for us, the success hasn't gone to his head – yet.

Sitting down with TV WEEK, Tom, 43, talks game-show rivals, Gold Logies, and why he feels partly responsible for Sophie Monk's broken heart.

"I do feel responsible for Sophie Monk's heartbreak," Tom admits.
"I do feel responsible for Sophie Monk's heartbreak," Tom admits.

Hard Quiz is now in season three. That's a long time in this day and age. Are you constantly looking over your shoulder?

I really enjoy doing the show. It seems to be working and it's really cheap, so it'll probably run for ages. If you can make a show that rates well and is cheap, it's rare that they get cancelled.

As far as game-show hosts go, how do you compare to Eddie McGuire, Andrew O'Keefe and Grant Denyer?

I'm probably the least well-paid of that group, because I'm on the ABC. However, I often outrate those guys, so it's an outrage. They're also giving away money, so really, it's unacceptable. At the ABC, we don't roll like that.

The contestants vie for the coveted Brass Mug.
The contestants vie for the coveted Brass Mug.

Of those three hosts, who's most likely to hold their own against you?

I know Andrew O'Keefe well – we went to university together. I used to do theatre sports and stand-up comedy at The University Of Sydney, and he was a big star. So I feel like I can be mean to him forever and he won't care.

I think Grant Denyer doesn't get fazed at all.

Finally, I've met Eddie a few times. He reminds me of a schoolteacher who's watching someone play up. He understands why they're doing it, but wishes they'd stop.

Have you been surprised by the success of "Hard Chat"?

I'm happy it worked, but I'm not surprised.

I actually owe it all to [former AFL player] Warwick Capper. Years ago, I was doing a gig on the Gold Coast [in Queensland] and he was in the audience.

He was being really annoying and I knew I had to deal with it, because everyone was watching him to see what he thought of the gig. So I started paying him out to his face, making direct eye contact. The more I did it, the more he laughed, and the more the crowd laughed.

I knew I was on to something.

Tom chatted to Sophie Monk, and credits himself for her *Bachelorette* season.
Tom chatted to Sophie Monk, and credits himself for her Bachelorette season.

Do you take credit for Sophie Monk becoming The Bachelorette?

Absolutely. We were joking about it during "Hard Chat". Next thing you know, Network Ten are on the phone to her!

Does that mean you're also responsible for her heartbreak?

Weirdly enough, I do feel responsible. In another weird coincidence, I went to high school with Stu Laundy [Sophie's ex from The Bachelorette]. If I had just given him Sophie's number, we could have avoided the whole catastrophe.

Ex-PM Kevin proved a lively guest.
Ex-PM Kevin proved a lively guest.

Who's been your favourite person to interview on "Hard Chat"?

I enjoyed Kevin Rudd, as he was in full fight. Because he was an ex-PM, he wasn't trying to win the politics of the day, so he could say what he wanted.

Has anyone said no to appearing?

Eddie McGuire has turned me down, very politely – he's one person you can safely say is too busy. I've asked Andrew Bolt [the conservative broadcaster and political commentor] a few times and he's said no. He said he can't see how it would be funny, which is exactly why it would be so hilarious.

You could be up for a few TV WEEK Logie Awards – both for Hard Quiz and for the Gold. Which would you rather win?

I'd rather win the Gold Logie, because when I accept the award, I could use the speech to rag on everyone in the room. I could give everyone a spray, thank nobody and then be on my way.

You have "Hard Chat" and Hard Quiz. How far can you push this Hard brand?

Well, Married At First Sight has done really well, so I think it's time for a dating show called "Hard At First Sight". Come on, Channel Nine – let's make TV magic!

read more from