Laura Imbruglia Admits She's "Not A Very Good Host"

20 August 2015 | 4:11 pm | Cyclone Wehner

"Rather than just watch TV and go to the pub, I decided to give myself another creative project to stay active."

Laura Imbruglia

Laura Imbruglia

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"We have nothing," Laura Imbruglia declares on the subject of TV variety shows. "We don't have any shows for touring artists or musicians or comedians to go on." Her solution? She's launching a web-based program, Amateur Hour (go to amateurhour.tv).  

Imbruglia (yes, Natalie's indie-cool younger sister) had been seeking a fresh challenge. She "wasn't feeling" the prospect of prepping another album this year. "Rather than just watch TV and go to the pub, I decided to give myself another creative project to stay active." Imbruglia developed Amateur Hour on days off from her part-time admin job in an architectural office. Her initial dilemma was that she had no experience producing a TV show, let alone a network to back it or a budget. Imbruglia had acted, appearing in Foxtel's Crash Palace, set in a backpackers' hostel, but that was in the early noughties. "I wanted to do [acting] when I was younger — I don't think I'm particularly good at it, which is why I stopped doing it. I made a choice at some point to just focus on music."

"Just getting everyone to turn up at the same time and not have anyone flake out on you when you're not paying them is really hard." 

She proceeded with Amateur Hour regardless. "I just had decided I would make something, even if I had to make it myself — even if I was filming it on a phone." Imbruglia posted a concept on Facebook, soliciting volunteer helpers. "I was just saying, I've got an idea to do this show — I wanna do, like, a Wayne's World crossed with [the ABC's defunct Dylan Lewis-fronted] Recovery crossed with Saturday Night Live kinda thing." Imbruglia was encouraged by the response from friends — and those with specialist industry skills (and, later, students). And she harnessed GoFundMe. Imbruglia has shot six 30-minute episodes to go online fortnightly from 1 Sep. She touts it as "a pilot season".

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Amateur Hour has an indie twist. Imbruglia is an engagingly droll host. She's also written and acted in skits. There are hip guests, largely from the local entertainment scene, and suitably eccentric regular segments — Hard-Ons' bassist Ray Ahn sharing tour stories while illustrating them, Laura Jean cooking and Ben Salter interviewing... cats. The series was filmed utilising Melbourne's venues. Above all, Amateur Hour looks super-professional, not DIY.  

Imbruglia has enjoyed assuming the role of producer. "Nothing really stumped me too much," she laughs. "The scheduling is the hardest. You're finding once you get a venue locked in, just getting everyone to turn up at the same time and not have anyone flake out on you when you're not paying them is really hard." She hopes a network, or a streaming company, picks up Amateur Hour. "We purposely made the season by ourselves without approaching anyone so, in case there was interest, I feel like you'd have more creative control if you've made something and proven that it works your way before getting involved with networks that will try and mould it into what they think people wanna see."

Though she'd like to stay on as producer, Imbruglia, who admits to being her own "harshest critic", is unsure about presenting. "I'm not a very good host, maybe I would get better if I kept doing it! [But] I think it has its own charm 'cause I'm generally pretty awkward."