Green Guide 21 Aug 2008


When a network put the squeeze on me

August 21, 2008

Adam Richard took the Hole in the Wall challenge, and belly-flopped.

IT'S FUNNY because I'm fat.

Sometimes, I think I'm a very good comedian, with sparkling wit and a nice line in caustic put-downs. Sometimes I get asked to be on one of those dire "celebrity" shows, and think, "this will be the perfect vehicle for my outrageous innuendoes and camp malarkey".

As was the case with Nine's re-mounting of Japanese game show and YouTube phenomenon Hole in the Wall. Even the title had me salivating at the various ways I could pervert it with just the arch of an eyebrow.

Then I got to the studio, and realised they had no interest in my wit, my personality or even if I was an alleged celebrity. They thought it would be funny to see fat people get pushed into a swimming pool.

The first sign of trouble was the fact that my fellow teammates were the equally corpulent comedians Jono Coleman and Jordan Raskopoulos. Our team name was the Couch Potatoes and we were being pitted against needy sports stars like Hawthorn's Shane Crawford, diminutive diver Loudy Wiggins (nee Tourkey) and the swimmer so desperate for fame he married a Newton, Matthew Welsh.

The show is sometimes referred to as human Tetris, and the format is simple, yet alarmingly convoluted. Your team stands in front of a swimming pool as a pink wall of polystyrene drives towards you. A shape has been cut out of the wall, and the contestant must adopt that shape and attempt to get through the hole to win a point. If you don't get through the hole, you go in the pool. Simple. Hilariously, all of our holes were impossibly small.

Aside from the hilarity of fat people being pushed into the water by a pink wall with a hole in it, there is the costume. Contestants on Hole in the Wall are sensibly required to wear a safety helmet. Somewhat less sensible are the glittery knee and elbow pads. Not at all sensible is the silver jumpsuit. While the shining Spandex stretched across Shane Crawford's sculpted buttocks like a latex glove, Jono, Jordan and I looked remarkably like three animated Easter eggs with legs.

So, we're fat men, wearing helmets and skin-tight silver Lycra, being pushed into a swimming pool by a pink polystyrene wall with a hole in it. That's going to look superb on my CV sitting alongside "Award-winning Stand-up Comedian" and "Number 1 FM Breakfast Radio Presenter". Some people might say my appearance on Hole in the Wall sits perfectly alongside my starring role in Celebrity Dog School, where I was once judged by Amanda Vanstone (who would have made a great teammate on Hole in the Wall). I consider my casting in Dog School to be a triumph, because not only am I not a celebrity, I did not own a dog at the time.

Hole in the Wall is hosted by Getaway reporter Jules Lund, due to the fact that Nine has a pathological fear of holding auditions, and would rather just get someone already in its employ to host its shows. That's why we see so much of Catriona Rowntree and Eddie McGuire.

It is produced, in typical Nine fashion, in an outrageously large studio with millions of cameras, and a girl in a bikini standing around for reasons that can only be described in court documents from Christine Spiteri's wrongful dismissal claim.

It is absolutely mindless television, but you can't tear your eyes away from it. The moment a boombah like myself hits the water is captured in frightening detail from numerous unflattering camera angles, some of them under water.

Hopefully, due to the show being aimed at a family audience, the editing will remove what Seinfeld viewers would know as "shrinkage". I'm especially afraid of the final edit, because I'm not terribly well endowed, and my shrinkage looks like a second belly-button.

Hopefully, Nine will make use of its new technology and show my gut wobbling in glorious slow-motion high-definition as I try to extract myself from the pool, looking for all intents and purposes like a whale attempting to beach itself. Look, it could be a lot worse. I could have been wearing a tu-tu.

If you think Hole in the Wall sounds stupid, it is, but there is one thing you are guaranteed never to see if you watch it - you won't see anyone's "amazing journey".

There are no tearful rehearsals as celebrities realise they are out of their depth and incapable of singing or dancing, no protracted thanks and insincere congratulations to singing mentors or dancing partners.

My episode of Hole in the Wall is pretty much half an hour of porkers standing stock-still while walls are smashed into misshapen lumps of polystyrene by our immovable girth, with the occasional obese bellywhacker into an indoor pool. Besides, we gave 10 grand to charity. Surely that counts for something?

Hole in the Wall screens Wednesdays at 8pm on Nine.

Originally published by The Age.