Thursday, December 18, 2008

Andrew Denton

I thought my first encounter with Andrew Denton and his Enough Rope show occurred last week when I was researching Natasha Stott Despoja. But last night, while playing around on YouTube, I realized I had seen clips of his show before. I had seen part of his interview with Heath Ledger.

 I guess I wasn't exactly playing on YouTube. I was doing preliminary research on Denton. I figured it would be odd to write a post about him without actually seeing some of his show. I watched various clips. The highlight was finding out that Hugh Jackman peed in his pants during his performance in Beauty and the Beast.   Fantastic story there. I shared it with Jack, telling him if he ever pees in his pants, he doesn't have to feel embarrassed. The same thing happened to Hugh Jackman.

Three people recommended that I write about Denton. I take that to mean he's either well-loved or extremely fascinating. OR maybe he's a bit of both.

He was born on 4 May 1960.

Birthday website time

He's 48. That's close to fifty. In Astrology, he's a Taurus. I don't think I have a Taurus in my life. I know nothing about it.

I better check it out.

This website uses terms such as patient, reliable, loving, persistent, jealous, possessive, self-indulgent, and greedy to describe them.

The website says, They are stable, balanced, conservative good, law-abiding citizens and lovers of peace, possessing all the best qualities of the bourgeoisie

Denton has the same numerology number as me. 7!

The 7 is all about learning.

Interviewing people is an excellent way to learn.

Denton also has the same Chinese Astrology sign as me. The Rat.

Denton has a famous daddy. Kit Denton. Daddy Denton wrote the book Breaker which became the movie Breaker Morant. About a week ago, I started reading a book about Daisy Bates. It turns out she was married to this Breaker Morant guy at some point. I didn't finish the book, by the way, because the author said Daisy Bates was a liar. The whole book seemed to be the author trying to distinguish between the lies and the truth...filling in the blank spots with fiction. I don't like that type of thing.

Anyway.... Let me get back on track.

It seems Denton spent his childhood in the Blue Mountains. Lord Wiki says he went to the Blue Mountain Grammar School in Wentworth Falls.

The school still exists.

It's not a selective school. I'm guessing that means anyone can get in; or at least it's less competitive than a selective school.

The class size for the younger years is nice....only fifteen students. I'm definitely a big believer in small class sizes; especially with younger kids.

It's a Christian school and religion classes are required. I'm not sure if the classes succeeded with Andrew Denton, because Lord Wiki says he's agnostic.

At the school, Denton was known for public speaking and debating. I'm bad at public speaking. I guess probably I'm best at private debating. I fight privately within my own head...quite often.

After the Blue Mountain School, he attended Guildford Grammar School. Lord Wiki says he also attended a number of religious schools. Okay, there's quite a mystery here. This is getting exciting. Why all the religion schools? Why did he even change schools? Blue Mountain Grammar looks like it goes up to a high age. Well, it goes up to years 9 and 10. So, I guess he needed a school for those last two years. Maybe he had trouble finding a new school that fit him well.

I've heard of such challenges happening here. Some private schools go up to only 8th grade. Then these families have to struggle to find a school for 9-12th grade. I'm sure it's not always easy. If you go to public (government) school, your elementary school usually automatically feeds into a middle school and a high school. For the most part, you just move up to a new school and have pretty much the same classmates. But with private schools that end in 8th grade, it's not as easy as that.

It looks like Denton moved to Perth, because that's where Guildford Grammar School happens to be. I wonder why they moved. His dad was a writer. That career usually doesn't dictate a change in location. Or maybe he wasn't yet a successful writer and had other jobs. Maybe they moved for the mother's job?   Or maybe they needed a change in scenery?

Lord Wiki says Daddy Denton died in The Blue Mountains. So, it looks like, if they did move, he eventually returned. Or...perhaps Guildford is a boarding school.

Heath Ledger went to the school! I wonder if they talked about this in Ledger's interview. I didn't see the whole thing; just a tiny clip.

The school does offer boarding, so maybe this is what Denton did. Or perhaps the whole family moved to Perth for awhile. I can totally imagine sending your child to boarding school. I have a harder time imagining sending them so far away. It seems like there'd be just as good of a boarding schools near Blue Mountains. Although perhaps there was something about Guildford that really appealed to the family.

Well, maybe I'll figure out the answers to these perplexing questions later.

For his University years, Denton went to Charles Sturt University. Lord Wiki says he majored in media and communications. That actually fits his career. I feel that often celebrities have majors that have nothing to do with show business--stuff like law or marine biology.

Lord Wiki says Charles Sturt has campuses all over New South Wales, including Dubbo where my friend lives!

Oh! Lord Wiki also says that the school is KNOWN for media and communications. I'm glad Denton picked the right school. Lord Wiki provides a list of alumni. I don't personally recognize the names, but it has a lot of journalists and news broadcasting folks.

The school also seems to be known for distance education.

Denton went to the Bathurst campus which is the one that has its own radio station. Denton worked for it and then later graduated to national radio. He worked on a show hosted by a guy named Doug Mulray.

Denton's career continued to expand. He starred/hosted in a handful of series: Blah Blah Blah (I love that name), The Money or the Gun, and Live and Sweaty. All the shows were comedies, and they were on ABC. This was during the 1980's and 1990's.

In Blah Blah Blah the running joke was that the real host was missing and Denton was just filling in. Finally, on the last episode the "real host" showed up. That's pretty cute.

On each episode of The Money or Gun, a famous musical guest would play their own unique version of Stairway to Heaven. Guests included.....Oh maybe they're not so famous. The only name I recognize really is Rolf Harris. Although I don't know much about music--Australian, American, or whatever. It seems though that many of the guests were impersonators. Beatles....Elvis.....The Doors....B-52's.

On Live and Sweaty Denton challenged the then Prime Minister Paul Keating to a game of bowling. Keating never met the challenge, but did finally agree to a live interview. The show is also known for the parody song As Long as We Beat New Zealand.

After the three ABC shows, Denton did a show on the Seven Network called Denton. It seems the show had well known singers (for real this time) singing songs made famous by other singers.

Here's something exciting. Denton had some kind of issue with a wealthy Australian fugitive named Christopher Skase. He wanted to hire a bounty hunter to catch the guy. Was this a joke and publicity stunt?  Or was he seriously angry with this guy?

Enough Rope with Andrew Denton hasn't been on as long as I imagined. It started in 2003.

I guess the show was popular, because in 2004 a survey showed Denton as being the most recognizable and most liked person on TV.


He made a documentary called God on My Side. I think it's here that he revealed  his agnosticism.  Lord Wiki says that Denton claims the film was not anti-Christian. I have a feeling this isn't exactly true. Well, it might not be anti-Christian. But from what I'm reading, it seems to be critical of Christianity.

Oh great! Guess where he went to interview the Fundamentalist Christians. Texas!

I'm watching a short show about the documentary. It looks like something I'd be very interested in seeing. He says something that I absolutely love. I think it's a lot how I feel. I have great respect for people's faith. I may not like where it takes them politically. But I think faith is such a personal issue.

I think this is one of the thing that separates me from many of the atheists. I admire faith and I take it seriously. I think many Atheists do NOT admire faith and see it as foolish. We should believe only in what can be proven. I think the beauty in faith is you can believe without proof. I believe in a lot of things and have no scientific proof. I have no problems with Christians having complete faith in the Bible. I have no problem with them denying evolution and believing in Creation. What I do have a problem with is when they push those beliefs on others; whether it be by preaching on the streets, doing missionary work, and worst of all trying to manipulate government policy.

Oh! Here's something I didn't know. Denton produced the Gruen Transfer. This guy really gets around. He's also hosted the Logies and has been nominated for a few himself.

Time to leave Lord Wiki who failed to tell tell me that Enough Rope is....well, out of rope. The show has ended. I think someone in comments mentioned that to me. I'm too lazy to go find out who. If you want credit, speak up now!

It looks like his last guest was Ben Stiller. I guess that's a good note to end on.

This site talks about a show he did in the late 1990's. Lord Wiki talked about it, but I was confused and therefore ignored him. Now I'm thinking it may be important enough to mention. The show was called The House From Hell. It involved locking incompatible people into a house and seeing who could last the longest. The website says it probably inspired future shows such as Big Brother and Survivor. MTV's Real World though first came out in 1992. So, maybe The House from Hell was inspired by that.

Denton's next show is something on the ABC called Project NEXT It's supposed to uncover new talent. Yes, because the world does not have enough search-for-talent shows. Denton claims it will be different. He says, it's about finding a bunch of original thinkers, movers, mischief-makers and cage-rattlers and enticing them into a room to create an irreverent program about serious things. I'm not sure I understand quite what that means. Hopefully, it will end up being good.

Here's a lovely editorial on a site called Sign of the Times. It looks like a Christian site, and me being admittedly a little prejudice made the assumption the piece would be negative. The editorial starts off asking why an atheist is on the cover of a Christian magazine. I figured this was some kind of angry attack. But it ends up the writer is supportive of Denton. At the end he says, Can an atheist like Denton teach believers about God? Yes. Denton reminds believers that violence done in the name of religion insults God whether his name is Jehovah, Allah or Father. Denton’s respect for faith leading to deeds of compassion confirms how hollow is a religion that isolates creed from conduct. Christians should walk their talk, and make sure their talk is true to the God of love.

I feel warm in my heart when I hear about open-minded and loving Christians. I know there are a lot of them out there. I just forget sometimes. Sorry.

Here's a website with Andrew Denton quotes. My favorite is: I have deep respect for people's individual faith, but when faith gets connected to the machinery of state, or the machinery of hate, I find it very confronting.

Hey, Andrew. Thank you for taking the thoughts from my jumbled mind and turning them into something that sounds coherent. You're awesome.

He really did say it very well. It kind of rhymes too. Hate. State.

There was some controversy in 1995 about Denton's interview with Mark Latham. For some reason, the Supreme Court ruled that the show couldn't be aired. It had something to do with some legal matter involving his newly published memoirs. But I guess eventually it was aired. This site has the transcript. I wish I had scene this when researching Latham. I'm skimming through it now. Apparently, the issue between Beazley and Latham involved accusations of sexual harassment. The interview definitely spreads insight into Latham's character.

This article talks about how Denton makes people get all emotional during the interviews--sometimes making them cry. In America, Barbara Walters has that job.

I read that one of the differences between Americans and Australians is Americans are more open about their lives. We kind of tell it all--sometimes to complete strangers. I remember reading a joke somewhere. An Australian eavesdrops on two Americans talking on and on, revealing intimate details of their lives. Then they later part ways by saying something like Nice to meet you.

 I have a feeling this difference between Americans and Australians is not as big as it used to be. I'm not sure if it's there at all. Just by judging some Australian blogs I guys are pretty open. My Australian friends talk about their lives almost as much as I do. And if you do it almost as much as I do....well, that's a LOT.

Maybe though there's a difference still in how fast we open up to people. Perhaps Americans are more likely to reveal stuff earlier. Maybe Australians wait until they can trust someone more?

It's all generalizations though.

Anyway, I better go now.

Thanks to those who suggested I look at Andrew Denton. I enjoyed it!


  1. great post! a smart, clever, funny guy who does great interviews.

  2. I love Denton. If I had to be interviewed by the media for some reason then Denton would be the guy I'd choose to be interviewed by. He is intelligent and funny and kinda cute, what more could you want in a guy :)

    Found your blog via Jayne over at Great Southern Land. Nice place you have here, I will be stopping by again.

  3. Hi Dina.

    I liked today's post. I used to work with Andrew's sister - they're a brilliant family.

    I'm on holidays (yay) for two weeks in two hours' time.....looking forward to catching up on two weeks' worth of your research in January!


  4. Denton is a brilliant researcher and interviewer, getting his subjects to open up about things they've never discussed before.
    A really good show he did on mental health is Angels and Demons.

    Daisy Bates wasn't so much a liar as more of an exaggerator to generate funding and interest in Aboriginals to both protect them and ensure their survival.
    The big problem people have with her writings is the cannibalism, which did happen.

  5. Hi Dina he si a fascinating subject and I did not know that his father was the author of Breaker Morant. You could probably find the film footage of the Denton and Latham interview on the Enough Rope was fascinating. The Christopher Scase thing...well do you do posts postumously? He was like one of the Ceos of some of your top companies who go bust and skip the country and gaol and live the high life overseas and when they try to get him back gets into a wheelchair. Nobody knew whether he needed the wheelchair or whether it was a scam ....interesting case especially as he owned one of our major television networks, channel seven just before that if memory serves me the industry really went for him when he skipped the country and his debts.

    The boarding school thing with Denton was interesting as were the Grammar Schools....they are good private schools usually linked to a Christian denomination but not Christian as in the way of some fundamentalist schools nowadays

    He has had a long and varied and successful career and was vitriolic about Bush and the invasion of Iraq from the outset....he always told it like it was and rarely stood for bullshit in his interviews

    Have you thought of Jane MacGrath for your interviews? Denton has the most incredible interviews and they are on the Enough Rope website and also I did an RIP on her her...

    she was a remarkable woman and incredibly going to see about her charity for my quilts...would be good as it is for women and women usually like quilts or pretty things

  6. Louise: Thank you!!

    Marita: He IS kind of cute. I often imagine I'm being interviewed for things--especially when I'm in the shower. I don't know if I ever imagined who was interviewing me. I'm always so focused on myself and the amazing brilliant things I'm saying. I also rarely imagine what the hell I did to deserve an actual interview.

    Thanks for coming by and I'd love it if you returned!

    Gina: Have a wonderful holiday!!!! I'll miss you.

  7. Jayne: The Angels and Demons thing looks good. As for Bates, I never got to the part about the Aborigines. The part I read was about her childhood and earlier days. The author talked about their was conflicting information regarding her biographical stuff. I probably just got the wrong book about Bates. I would love one that talked about cannibalism. That's one of my favorite topics. The book I started to read might have talked about it, but I didn't get very far into the book.

    Magikquilter: When you say posthumously, do you mean after the subjects die or after I die. Because I'll say this right now. I have every intention to continue this blog when I die. Death is not going to stop me! Plus, I'll be invisible so I can spy on my subjects. I'll actually know MORE than Lord Wiki.

    No, seriously. I've written about dead people before. Well, one dead person. Arthur Phillip. I'm happy to do more.

    I'll look into Jane McGrath--starting with your blog entry.


  8. Great post, Dina! Really interesting - I love bits of people trivia. And Denton stands out, that's for sure. He's sort of Australia's answer to Parkinson 'eh. He has class, which is saying something given the crap that makes it onto TV.

  9. catatonickid, Thank you! He does have class. I enjoyed reading about him. I want to watch more of the interviews sometime.....

  10. Oh I love it when your research and my world collides!

    Collision 1:
    Andrew Denton's son Connor was at the same school as Toto (not our current school) and Andrew and I occasionally kicked a ball with our kids in the school park on weekends.

    Collision 2:
    My very very good friend was (I'm so sad the show is over!) the audience warm-up comedian for "Enough Rope" for the entire series.

    Collision 3:
    Andrew Denton's son is now at the same school as my nephew and he and my brother have chummied up at the edge of the cricket field.

    He's not retiring from the industry, just from being in front of the camera.

    He really is a brilliant interviewer.

    I think that "talking about oneself" IS a major difference (generally speaking) between the US and Aus. There will always be those of us (like me) who open up on the interweb... but even I find it very difficult and uncomfortable to talk about myself in real life.

    I think it's reflected by our media... our telly programmes... our sense of personal space.

    Of course there are good things and bad things about both sides of this coin, but I experienced some wonderful things from American strangers that I met who told me their life stories, and showed me great kindnesses (outside of major cities).

    I suspect (but don't know) that Australians would be kind, but not very open to discussing their own lives with strangers.

    I'm generalising, of course. Just an obvservation.

  11. Fe,

    These collisions are fun. I hope we never have a bad one--where I say something really bad about someone and you say "She's my best friend." Although I probably wouldn't say anything that bad about someone unless they're like Pauline Hanson. And I don't picture you being best friends with someone like her. Maybe I'm safe.....

    Most of my friendships with Australians are online. I don't really notice a difference between them and Americans in terms of revealing stuff. I think you're right though. Online might be different from real life. My friend I met in Sydney was pretty open, but she spent many years in California. That might have changed her.

    And then again, there are always exceptions.

    I don't think I open up to strangers in real life. We might share general information, but I think it would be rare to get really personal. I would have to feel some kind of instant magical bond with them.

  12. I reckon Denton is the greatest thing in Australian TV ever. Including the supposed "King", Graham Kennedy.

    I'm ripped to see Enough Rope going. It was brilliant; better than anything David Frost ever did and better than most of Parkinson.

    The Money and the Gun was a great example of Andrew's devastating use of irony. He never attacks anything; he damns it with outrageous advocacy. Gun control was a recurring theme on the series and he used to appear on set wearing a camouflage-pattern tuxedo. Once he gave an energetic speech in support of guns, finishing with, "We need guns! We need them to protect ourselves from Man's natural enemy -the duck!! (At this point he held up a wooden decoy duck to illustrate the point.)

    I still laugh over that one. Still, I'd never be game to let him interview me. He's bloody dangerous.

    Oh yeah, did anyone mention "The Year of the Patronising Bastard"?

  13. Retarius,

    You're the second person to mention Parkinson. I'm embarrassed to say I have no idea who that is.

    I HOPE he's not American. That would be REALLY embarrassing.

    I think Denton has it totally right about the duck. I think it's sad that so many people underestimate their danger. I noticed that was especially true in Australia. You guys talk about spiders and a deadly octopus. Yet, you totally ignore the duck.

    What's the deal with that?

    I have not yet heard of the Patronizing Bastard thing. What is it?

  14. "Year of the Patronising Bastard" was a programme Denton did on how the disabled are discriminated against. Just Google the title and you'll see.

    Those ducks...yep they fly under the radar here.