As the new host of Australia’s Got Talent, Dave Hughes is well aware of how tough it is to be a young performer getting judged.
“I auditioned for Red Faces twice and missed out!” he explains.
Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes may have been on our TV screens for years in shows such as Before The Game and The Project, but AGT is his first solo hosting gig, it’s a role he is naturally suited for as he interacts and shares a laugh with contestants from all walks of life.
“I am always happy to hear what people are up to no matter who they are. This show is perfect for me.”
For the auditions I'm side of stage, I'm there to hopefully make the contestants feel better, maybe I was just annoying them, I don't know. Really, they are all so serious, even if their talent doesn't match their desire. Every contestant wanted to make the most of their moment.”
The show attracts contestants from all genres, but there was one group of performers Hughesy was particularly keen to look after, the comedians.
“That sort of forum's very hard. I would say to the judge’s in-between takes, this guys doing stand-up comedy. It's really hard to do stand-up comedy!"
No act is too big, or small for AGT, the first episode will feature speed eater Col the Conqueror who will attempt to consume two whole pizzas in two short minutes. Dancing taxi driver Pardeep who hopes to dazzle the judges with his Michael Jackson routine and 14-year-old speed drummer TJ Krause who, having being adopted out of Ethiopia as a child, will dance with a performance inspired by his African heritage.
As is now the norm with these formats, the judges on AGT get as much screen time as the contestants. “I think all the judges worked well together,” Dave tells me,
"Dicko's a lovely guy who genuinely wants people to do well; he's an absolute treasure to work with.
Sophie Monk makes me laugh. She's very funny, honest, open and kind-hearted. I love working with her, she told me some great stories backstage which I can't repeat, some really good stories actually.
Kelly Osbourne is a larger than life character, but has a heart of gold, very quirky, yet absolutely memorable.
Then there’s Eddie Perfect, you might have thought he'll be too cool for this show, but he really brought all his energy to it. He had fun with his role, but also took it seriously and gave some really good advice to people."
At the end of 2013, Hughes walked away from his TV and radio commitments to spend a year on the road travelling with his family and performing his first love, stand-up comedy.
“We had a ball. We went overseas and I did stand-up in bloody America, England, Edinburgh and Montreal and absolutely loved it. I want to get back over there to be honest.
It's just the most pure way to perform. There's comedy all around us, you just need to keep your eyes open. I will be trying to organise stand-up gigs in my nursing home when I'm eighty. I'll never stop doing stand-up."
As well as hosting Australia’s Got Talent this year, Hughes will continue to appear on the AFL Footy Show, as a former panellist on the rival Before The Game, he admits he had a few nerves upon moving to Nine.
“They were really accommodating to me, I certainly felt like an interloper when I first joined, you don't want to step on anyone's toes. It's a show that's been on air for a long time doing its thing. I'm just happy to play my role and get some laughs.”
Australia’s Got Talent is an important production for Nine this year, the Monday timeslot will see it compete with ratings blockbuster MKR and the much hyped I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Dave is looking forward to the reaction from viewers.
“It's a family show, I've got three little kids now, and this is probably the first show I've ever done where they're excited to watch. All of a sudden I'm the man about town with all these six-year-olds and five-year-olds going, "You're the guy from Australia's Got Talent." I'm like, "Yeah, that's me." I'm getting some credit in the playgrounds!”