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Merrick & Rosso Interview
On Life
Taken from CitySearch - October 99
by Merrick and Rosso (as told to Sacha Molitorisz)

Two cerebral celebrities

Merrick Watts and Tim Ross, aka Merrick and Rosso, are stand-up comedians. They're also broadcasters on the ABC's "yoof network", Triple J. Plus they've done TV shows for Foxtel. But you probably knew all that. What you probably didn't know is that the pair are also philosophers, a pair of deep thinkers who unceasingly ponder the big questions confronting us on the eve of the new millennium. Here are some of their pensees on success, the future . . . and ponies.

On their big break:
Merrick: The big step, as far as Triple J went, came when we'd both decided to take a month off from doing stand-up and go overseas. Just before we left, Triple J decided they wanted to do a top-of-the-hour campaign. Every time the news ended they wanted to have a short segment - about the Real Appeal, the Big Day Out, whatever - and they just said, "Why don't you guys write some?" So we said, "Ok, we'll do Grouse Aussie Icons". We didn't really think about it all that much. Then we went overseas, and when we came back, we discovered our spots were very, very popular. People were going around quoting them. That was pretty strange. And that was when the powers that be decided they were willing to give us a shot.

On how they came to be working together:
Merrick: We don't like talking about this, and that's why it's never in the press. But I'll tell you. We met in a correctional facility years ago. We were young and stupid and did some dumb things . . . We hugged some ponies that were underage.

On careers, ambition and rapid-fire success:
Rosso: Actually I thought I was going to get the job as managing director of the ABC by now.
Merrick: Me, I wanted to be Premier.
Rosso: No, our dream is to make a motion picture . . . about men who love to hug ponies.
Merrick: Yes, it's called Hug me, Hug me ... But don't hug me too much.

On that red-headed conservative from Queensland:
Merrick: We don't mention Pauline Hanson's name on radio. We figure that if you ignore her, she will go away. Anyway, there's nothing funny about it all, it's just wrong. And there's enough comics doing politics. I think we know our audience well enough to know they don't want us doing that sort of gear. And what we're doing now seems by all measures to be working, so why change it?

On Martin and Molloy:
Rosso: People don't actually make the comparison often, but you are always on the defensive.
Merrick: That might actually be because we're not like them. I don't think it's wrong to compare us with Martin and Molloy, not on the content of humour, but just because we're two blokes doing the drive shift and making people laugh.
Rosso: The main difference between them and us is generational. Those guys are just a bit older, and their humour sits in a different generation.
Merrick: And they didn't do stand-up.

On Super Planet Merrick and Rosso, the TV shows commissioned by Foxtel:
Merrick: We're happy there, they give us an enormous amount of freedom. Actually, we get an offer probably once a fortnight for television.
Rosso: Yeah, I got one just the other day. Some guy from Optus rang me up. He wanted to put cable in. It was a great offer . . . but I thought, no.

On the future:
Rosso: I would think our next step would be televison. But for as long as we do radio I would think we'll be doing it on Triple J.
Merrick: Everybody expects Triple J to be cool and laid back and fun, and that's exactly what it's like. It's a big happy place and you don't have somebody running in and saying, "Right, in 30 seconds you have to do a Coke ad". Instead they run in and say, "Right, in 30 seconds, you have to do cocaine". (Extended pause.) Um, that's a joke.


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