Andrew Denton surprises The Chaser during podcast launch

Former Publisher

“I’m just talking to a whole lot of f*ckwits from the advertising industry,” yells Charles Firth, after knowingly forgetting to mute his mic during the launch of The Chaser’s new podcast.

And so begins a 30-minute “virtual wine and dine” on Zoom, in front of a flock of journalists from trade media outlets like this one, and important people from the agency world.

Important, because The Chaser’s new home is now NOVA Entertainment, and the network will be looking to recoup their investment from some of the adland VIPs in attendance.

“Unfortunately nobody has any money to advertise anymore, so this is just an excuse to get pissed,” Firth told the room. “So everyone just drink up, and ignore the hard sell.”

Andrew Denton pulled a Hamish Blake and took everyone by surprise. Nevertheless, it turned out he was actually looking for The Hamish & Andy Show, not The Chaser Report.

There were, however, a few obvious no-shows from the star-studded invite list.

With a new book out, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull hoped to join, but his NBN was “playing up”. Shock jock Alan Jones sent his apologies too, “which is actually the first time he’s apologised for anything”.

The Chaser kindly schooled attendees on Zoom etiquette: “I’ve noticed a few of you facing your camera down low. No one wants to see the inside of your nostrils OK, don’t do that.”

By all accounts, it was as hilarious as you’d expect from Australia’s favourite satirical team, and a clever way to launch something new while bans on mass gatherings force junkets into hiatus.

So what did we learn about the new show? The Chaser Report is a weekly half-hour comical current affairs program with a new episode every Friday, and promises a short and sharp look at the week’s top news.

And their timing couldn’t be more perfect. Just about every network has reported significant spikes in podcast downloads as the Aussie population self isolates and reengages with audio.

In the first episode, which debuted in the Top 10 on iTunes, Andrew Hansen and Dom Knight vowed to make the podcast totally free of coronavirus talk. Sadly, the gang immediately launched into a chat about the panic buying phenomenon.

Hansen also unpacked the varying ways that celebrities are connecting with fans in isolation, while Knight examines some of the unique ways different countries are handling the crisis.

The Chaser Report is available now on Acast, iTunes, Spotify and your favourite podcast app.

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