Words by Julia Friend
Five twenty-something’s bagging out Eddie McGuire is nothing new. But five men totally unhinged, totally improvising, and totally asking for heckling from their audience… now that’s something else. The boys of Footy Couch say exactly what they want, and they want you to do the same.
“We’ve got no connections,” Jared Nash, one-fifth of Footy Couch, tells me. “It frees us up to say the sorts of things that other people just think, and that you want to say, but traditional commentators can’t say,” he says.
There’s not much Jared won’t say. Though he keeps mum on the special guests appearing at some of their select shows as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, he tempts me by constantly alluding to football industry secrets. “Let’s just say there was a coach last year who was probably on Tinder most of the time he was in the box. And that’s probably not the only box he was in,” he jokes. When I grimace at this, Jared laughs it off casually. “That’s an awful comment – but that’s the kind of thing we say.”
Footy Couch started because of what people weren’t saying. Jared says he believes a lot of football fans are often disillusioned by the lack of honesty from the commentators on major media networks. “They are so curtailed in what they can say.” After hearing a similar radio show based in England for cricket, two of the original Footy Couch guys got together in 2011 to make it happen for AFL. Having performed as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2012 and 2013, two of the members, Scott and Michael, are now doing solo stand up.
There’s definitely no shortage of AFL celebrities the Footy Couch boys will have a go at. “We try to have one of us on each team’s side. We’re biased, but we like to even out the bias,” Jared says. No players are too good for their ‘Worst Player In The League Award’ on the Footy Couch Facebook page. “We like to discuss the ‘hateability’ of players,” Jared explains. “Sometimes we revert back to the ‘old goodies’ that people love, like ‘Demetriou is fat’, or ‘Fletcher is old’.”
The fact that Footy Couch is held in the pub should be appealing to most comedy festival goers. Jared suggests the show isn’t just for diehard footy fans, and they aren’t afraid of the weeks when fate deals them a lousy game to commentate. “We’re just helping people watch the football. We can talk about how people’s meals were, what they think of the players and their haircuts, current events… half the show is interaction with the audience,” he says. “If you think we made a bad pun, there’s going to be a roaming microphone.”
I do worry intermittently, throughout our conversation, for the Sydney versus Collingwood game this Saturday, which Jared believes will be a busy show due to Collingwood playing an away game in Sydney. We joke about the fact that Footy Couch might have to fend off angry Collingwood fans who come for a heckle. “Bring it on,” he laughs. “If they want to give it back to us, we’re more than happy to take it.”
Footy Couch is performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on 28 March, 29 March, 6 April, 12 April, 17 April, and 19 April.
Farrago is giving away free double passes to each show. For your chance to win one, write “I want free tickets to Footy Couch” on Farrago’s Facebook wall.