Gleeson’s abusive call to Karl
IF THERE'S one segment on Aussie TV that always delivers, it's Tom Gleeson's Hard Chat.
The popular comedian, who is currently touring Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney with his new stand-up show, has grilled some of Australia's biggest names in the hilarious segment which airs during The Weekly on the ABC.
If you haven't seen it, Gleeson sits there with a deadpan expression and asks celebrities brutal questions.
For example, he asked James Blunt: "At the end of the music video for You're Beautiful, the character kills himself. Is that because he'd just heard the song?"
He said to Steve Price: "You ate some disgusting things in the jungle [on I'm A Celeb]. Was it worse than the disgusting s**t that you feed to your listeners on 2GB?"
And he said to Sophie Monk in April last year: "You started out as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She died when she was 36 and you're 37. Is that why you're career died a year ago?"
Speaking to news.com.au, Gleeson said that it was the latter star, Sophie Monk, who helped turn Hard Chat into a viral segment.
"I feel like she really put the segment on the map," he said. "She's really funny. In another life she could have been a stand-up comic. She's got good timing and she delivers lines with so much sincerity, even when they're patently absurd."
In Monk's first appearance on Hard Chat, the former Bardot member joked that she'd like to appear on The Bachelorette one day, which of course we all know ended up becoming a reality.
Gleeson said he "absolutely" takes credit for Monk landing the role on the reality show which rejuvenated her career.
"When things start going viral and getting millions of views, networks notice that kind of stuff," he said.
It's been much easier for Gleeson to book guests since Sophie Monk "put the segment on the map," but in the early days it was harder to convince people to take part.
He once had to resort to an expletive-laden voicemail to convince an Aussie star to say yes.
"The way I got Karl Stefanovic to do it [in 2015], I sent him a message and he was happy to do it," Gleeson told news.com.au. "But then he just kept dithering. I could never pin him down to a time to actually do it."
Fed up, Gleeson decided to call Stefanovic and ask him once and for all if he was ever going to do Hard Chat.
"So I rang him and I thought, 'This will either make him do it or it will make him never want to do it,' but it was worth it because he'd been stringing me along for a little bit.
"I got his voicemail and I was really aggressive, I was yelling into the phone. I said, 'Karl, you were right not to do Hard Chat because when I was finished with you, you would have been so f***ing depressed ...'"
Gleeson said plenty of other things in the heated voicemail, but they're a bit too inappropriate for us to print.
"Karl being Karl, he found it hilarious," Gleeson said. "That made him want to do it."
"Also, I think Karl was in the middle of contract negotiations so I think half the reason he did Hard Chat was to cause trouble," Gleeson said.
Some of the comedian's other favourite guests include Kevin Rudd, who he said was in "fight mode" when he recorded the segment.
"It went for half an hour and we could have used the whole thing," Gleeson said. "It was just so good. He's obviously a smart man and he's very quick."
And he also loved The Veronicas, who he thought it would be funny to have sit in the same chair for the entire interview.
"We had to find a chair that would fit both of them in," he said.
"One of the producers scoured the ABC and they found two purple chairs - one was slightly wider than the other one. I said, 'Where'd you find that chair?' And the person said, 'This chair actually got made for Enough Rope for when Amanda Vanstone was on, because they wanted her to sit in a chair and for it to look the same as Andrew Denton's chair.'
"If you've ever wondered how big Amanda Vanstone is, she's two Veronicas wide," Gleeson joked.
The most recent celebrity to voluntarily subject themselves to Hard Chat was 2DAY FM breakfast host, Em Rusciano, who copped an absolute battering from Gleeson about her lacklustre radio ratings.
Gleeson went into the interview with a less than favourable opinion of Rusciano after learning that she'd banned him from appearing on her radio show.
"I got inside information from Harley Breen [who hosted the 2DAY FM breakfast show with Rusciano last year]. One day I was doing a whole lot of radio interviews and it was awkward because I was at Southern Cross Austereo doing every other show except theirs.
"I saw Harley in the corridor and he said, 'I'm sorry that we can't do you,' and I said, 'That's fine, I really don't care plus your show doesn't rate.' We laughed because we're friends ... but later he told me that Em blocked me from being a guest."
Gleeson raised that story with Rusciano in the segment but by the end of their chat, he was a fan of hers.
"I gave her an absolute hammering and she won me over," he told news.com.au.
"She even said at one point, 'I'm winning you over, aren't I?' And I said, 'Yeah, it's really annoying.'"
Gleeson let us in on a secret and told news.com.au that next week's Hard Chat victim is Nick Giannopoulos. But there's one person in particular he's still desperately trying to lock down for a chat.
"I'm still trying to get Malcolm Turnbull," he said.
"We've contacted him several times and the truth is he's really witty. I think he'll do pretty well. But maybe he's right to be scared. I am going to hurl some s**t his way, that's for sure."
Tom Gleeson is currently touring his new stand-up show, Sure Thing. His tour dates are:
Canberra - May 5
Melbourne - May 10 and 11
Sydney - May 18 and 19
Go to comedy.com.au for ticket details.