How This Perth News Anchor Is One Of The Hottest Fringe Acts
“This is going to sound really wacky,” he said.
“I had a dream I was hosting a chat show for Fringe and Stephen Smith, the former foreign minister and defence minister, was my guest... and then I woke up and thought ‘woah, that was pretty funny’.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how one seemingly straight-laced ABC Perth News anchor made the jump to become one of the most sought-after tickets at Fringe.
Yep, Real Talk with James McHale started as a dream about a former federal minister.
“[On the news] You don’t get any time to flesh things out”
With this show, he does.
For instance, instead of just announcing a court decision as he would anchoring the news, McHale digs deeper.
“Over the years, I’ve thought ‘how do judges decide on a penalty?’…or 'does a reduced sentence, other than the maximum, really mean they’re being soft?'”
But don’t be mistaken, this isn’t by any means connected to his day job. Meaning, you don’t have to watch the news or be addicted to Q&A to enjoy it.
The late-night-chat-show-style show works by having two guests per show, which is broken up by a 5-minute spot featuring someone from another Fringe act - a Fringe show within a Fringe show.
Towards the end, McHale also gets personal questions thrown at him by the audience, where people have discovered how he was a ballroom dancer and had represented WA in inline hockey.
“One of my old inline hockey coaches came along [to a show] and he asked me if I was still as violent and ill-tempered a player as I was when I was 16… so I got him on stage and we had a bit of a chat about that,” he said.
(He’s not, he assured me)
But for a show that seems better suited to a more conservative venue, Fringe is a surprisingly perfect fit.
“The beauty of Fringe… the infrastructure is there, to an extent. It allows someone like me, who’s never put on a show, has no idea how to put on a show…and wouldn’t if I had to organise my own venue and marketing and everything.”
Fringe also gives him the opportunity to show who he is, not just the super serious side.
“I heard afterwards that people have said ‘oh I didn’t realise he had a sense of humour’, which is kind of puzzling, until you realise that whenever they see me otherwise, it’s me saying ‘good evening’ and then telling them a long list of reasons why it hasn’t been a good evening.”
This is another point of difference: his unexpected humour.
“Because your expectations are going to probably be low [laughs], I’ll surpass them wildly.”