"Last time I was on Q&A, about six months ago, I went away thinking, 'Well, as expected, that was quite unpleasant. I'd better not do that again.'
It was lovely to meet John Waters and to hear him explain the intricacies of tea-bagging to Tanya Plibersek and Christopher Pyne in the green room after the show. But besides that, it was awkward and weird and confronting and not at all an appropriate place for a non-political songwriter like me.
Then, about two months ago I had a request from the producers to come back. My first reaction was 'no fucking way'. But they were going to let me sing my song, and that made all the difference. I still felt conflicted and tormented about it, but it was my song, my music, my new record, so I said yes.
I'm a musician. I want people to hear the songs I write and sing. Opportunities to play songs on TV in Australia are scarce. It's pretty much morning television or Gordon St Tonight (which has finished for the year). Or Q&A.
I'm a fan of Q&A. Nearly everyone I follow on twitter live-tweets the show, and for that hour, it genuinely feels like I'm communing with the rest of Australia. It's like gathering around a television with 40 of the smartest, funniest, most articulate people in the country, (nearly everyone I follow live-tweets Celebrity Apprentice too, but fuck that, I have my limits).
I suspect that nearly everyone who live-tweets Q&A harbours a secret desire to be on the show themselves. They think they could do a better job than the people on the panel, and that adds spice to the whole thing.
Also, Tony Jones is one of the most brilliant and charismatic people alive in the world today.
But I digress. In the weeks leading up to the taping, I had an anxious tangle in my stomach. I told Clementine Ford that my anus was quivering a little bit. She agreed that that is the feeling you get before appearing on Q&A.
Then, a few days ago, I found out that the theme of the show was the upcoming budget. There would also be discussion about interest rates and Craig Thomson.
I asked my manager to call the show's producers, to ask them WTF. What meaningful contribution did they expect me to make, exactly? They assured us that the budget would be just one component of the discussion, and that there would still be opportunities for me to talk about social issues and the arts.
They said I would take a question from an audience member about singing. There was also to be a question about bullying on reality TV shows. (They don't tell you the exact questions, but they give a broad outline about what topics are likely to come up).
I was hoping to talk about marriage equality and refugees, but those weren't on the agenda. I've also done quite a lot of work with an anti-trafficking organisation in Asia, and I would have loved to speak about modern slavery. Still, I felt fine talking about singing and reality TV bullying.
The budget stuff, well, I didn't know anything about it and I wasn't going to pretend I did. Should I have bluffed my way into some half-baked stance about why the major banks don't pass on interest rate cuts? Maybe, but I felt weary and dishonest just thinking about it. Why would anyone care what I think about that shit anyway? I figured if I just said I didn't care, then we could move on and talk about more interesting things like singing and tea-bagging.
As anyone who saw it knows, we didn't move on and the entire show was about Labor and unions and budgets and interest rates, and I felt about as useful as a waterproof teabag.
And then I did the song.
So there you have it. Thanks for listening. It was good to get that off my chest. I'm now going to put on Anthony Callea's new album while I cry quietly in the bath."
Also, Anthony Callea's management contacted theMusic.com.au to say that he would be making no further comment.