Dave Hughes ready to push boundaries at Logies
OPENING the Logie Awards is a balancing act for Dave Hughes.
Returning for the third year in a row to deliver the opening monologue for Australian TV's night of nights, the comedian, TV and radio presenter doesn't plan on going full Ricky Gervais on the room full of A-listers.
"I'm doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival at the moment and part of that is I'm trying out some of the jokes I'll do on Logies night,” he says.
"I throw in a few jokes and go 'Okay that gets a laugh'. I've got some one-liners but I also have to keep in mind what's socially acceptable.
"I'm trying to fashion some material around the big stories and scandals while trying to ensure I still get to work in TV.”
That's not to say Hughes is afraid to push the envelope.
Last year, he ripped into Shane Warne and the 60 Minutes child snatching scandal.
"I've gotten into trouble with many people over the years,” he says.
"There have been a few awkward phone calls and angry text messages but I try to explain and say 'Look I do it more to myself than anyone'. I'm generally the biggest butt of all my jokes. The only way to overcome your problems is laughing at them.”
The awards themselves, now in their 59th year, are also fair game.
"By the time you get to the end of the night everyone's wandering around in a daze; it's such a long night,” he says.
"I don't know why they make it so long. Every year I go 'Why is it a three-hour show?'”
The most difficult part of the night for the presenters, according to Hughes, is the unruly room of chatty, boozed-up guests.
"With all the tables, everyone's wandering around; there is so much distraction in that room,” he says.
"In a theatre (setting, like the Oscars) they're there and they can't get away. They can't wander over to their mate at table 72.”
There are always a few unscripted moments, as Hughes knows only too well. Two years ago, he nearly missed the start of the show.
"I had my phone on silent and they (the producers) were panicking,” he says.
"I was up in my room going through my opening in my mind. I finally saw my phone and they're like 'Where the f*** are you? We're live in five minutes'. I had to run down and find the backstage.”
Hughes won't hazard a guess about who will win the Gold Logie, but he's chuffed for his replacement on The Project Pete Helliar.
After months of jokes about Helliar being the odd man out on the The Project panel - his co-stars Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly are the two most recent Gold Logie winners - the funny man is up against Aly, Grant Denyer, Jessica Marais, Rodger Corser and Samuel Johnson for Australian TV's highest honour.
"It's been a really fun narrative for me to play with,” he says.
"My reality is the two people to my left are the past two last Gold Logie winners.
"As a comedian, it's great fodder. We've really enjoyed playing that up and I have played the underdog quite a bit over the years.”
Helliar doesn't find his nomination or the idea of winning quite as funny as when he was the odd man out on the Project panel.
"It won't be as funny anymore; I'm comfortable with reacting to not being nominated (or winning),” he says.
"I'm feeling Grant Denyer is going to win it for some reason... he's great at what he does.”
Jessica Marais is the only woman up for Gold this year, something past winner Carrie Bickmore finds disappointing.
"I could list 10 women who I think deserve to be up there,” Bickmore recently told the Herald Sun.
"I am really surprised Lisa Wilkinson isn't up there, I've been a massive fan of hers for a long time.
"I know everyone says it is the public who vote, and I've been very fortunate so I'm not going to sit here with my violins out, but it does genuinely surprise me that there aren't more women.
"There are such a plethora of great women on television.”
It is important to note, as TV Week editor Emma Nolan recently pointed out, that 11 of the 20 most recent Gold Logie winners are women.
Aly is the bookies' favourite to win Gold for a second year in a row, with Samuel Johnson coming a close second for his acclaimed portrayal of family friend Molly Meldrum in Seven's biopic.
Johnson quit acting last year to focus on fundraising for cancer research, a mission inspired by his sister Connie's battle with breast cancer, and late last year shunned the campaign to get him a Gold Logie nomination.
In a Facebook post, Johnson also explained to fans how he doesn't want any potential Logies recognition to be a distraction from his fundraising efforts.
The 59th Annual Logie Awards air from 7pm on Sunday on Channel 9.