Behind The Audience Part 2 – Santo Sam and Ed’s Total Football

SSETFtableOn Sunday March 9 I travelled to South Yarra, Melbourne to be part of the Santo, Sam and Ed’s Total Football studio audience, shown on Foxtel. Unlike the day before where I attended the Have You Been Paying Attention? audience at Channel 10 studios, Total Football is produced live and uncut.

Total Football is hosted by Santo Cilauro, with co-hosts Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee. The show originated during the 2010 World Cup, shown on SBS. The show was such a success, once the World Cup had finished it moved to 7Mate and spun-off to cover all sports in general, under the title Santo, Sam and Ed’s Sports Fever! in 2012After a 10 episode season, the guys disappeared from the screens and popped up in podcast form as simply Santo, Sam and Ed, creating running for 24 episodes before taking a break and popping up on Fox Sports as Santo, Sam and Ed’s Total Football to report on the A-League.

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Fox Footy studios

Fox Footy studios

I turned up about 30 minutes before call time of 6:30pm at the Fox Footy Studios in South Yarra, located in a nice quiet modern suburban city area. Hovering around the entrance, a small crowd eventually turned up, with some wearing their favourite A-League jerseys. At 6:30pm the front door opens and we were handed a Terms & Conditions form we had to read in order to be allowed in, which is stock standard at any audience taping/filming. We had our names marked off and waited in reception, where we were treated to beverages and snacks. The group was a little quiet until our minders generated a bit of chat and laid down the ground rules, making sure we’re following the guys on Twitter and Facebook, as well as being able to get photos with the guys after the show has finished.

The time hit 6:50pm, which gave us 30 minutes to get into the studio for a 7:10pm start. The crowd was guided in by the lovely Working Dog staff, in a singular line. As I walked into the studio door, I was amazed at how compact the room was. I’m sure it was large overall, and what appears that it may have been a heavy black sound absorbing curtain separating another part of the studio behind the seats, but it was nice and cosy. The main camera was smack-bang in the middle of the audience seating, and cameras to either side. Cilauro, Pang and Kavalee walked in and greeted everyone, and explained that the show might start early as one of the matches had finished earlier than expect. Cilauro started with a warm-up quiz which the correct answer would win a Diego Mara-donut (a joke from the Cup Fever! days). The video explains all.

I barely knew any of the answers but I nearly answered the Jim and Terry question (I explain later below to Cilauro). The mic levels were checked and the show began – live.

Inbetween breaks, bowls of jellybeans were handed out (aniseed flavour, we meet again…!). The person to the right of me grabbed a handful, with Producer Michael Hirsh turning to them saying “You love black jellybeans? I don’t like them at all!” – he’s on my team. With every break, the guys would tell jokes or move around all the way up to the last 3 seconds. The timing was phenomenal.

Later on, Melbourne Heart player Josip Skoko sat down at the desk as a guest, telling stories and promoting his coffee and jersey swapping stories. After his chat, the commercial break started and Kavalee disappeared. Rob Sitch turned up in his wig that resembled his character in Kath & Kimderella and they set up for an appearance as Jim and Terry from KiwiTV. A black curtain on the side was pulled back to reveal a green screen, while 2 chairs were propped up behind the KiwiTV banner – the sketch was ready. It was amusing that while Cilauro and Pang  spoke directly to the camera for the ‘satellite’, that Skoko kept looking ahead then looking to his right at Kavalee and Sitch. Laughs were shared and just like that – time to wrap it up.

Once the show was off-air, we were carefully ushered outside and lined up to the entrance so we could await our photos opportunity with the guys behind the desk. Afterwards, I sat down with Cilauro and discussed the show, as well as a few previous projects we all love them for – or otherwise this whole site wouldn’t exist.

Me: I’m not a big sports person, however, I have watched many of the shows – Sports Fever, Cup Fever, Total Football, in fact, I only got Foxtel just to watch the shows.

Really? I’m really interested in that, because most of our fans are football / soccer fans, and we love the fact that – hopefully – there are people that just watch it for good old fashioned comedy… but – in percentage term, how much.. can you enjoy “100%” of it or do you enjoy “60%” of it? Do you just go “errr.. I only wish I knew that!” or do you just get it and don’t worry about the fact you don’t know that stuff?

Me: It’s a combo of both – 50/50 – even when you’re doing all the questions at the start, I think “I may know that answer.. I’m not sure about that..” – I knew about Jim and Terry (the characters from Kiwi TV played by Kavalee and Sitch), but I hesitated because I was about to say “Geoff and Terry Bailey from The Late Show!”

Oh! *laughs* Well, you know what? Before we did our rehearsal, Rob had to.. we had to rehearse so the crew have an idea what we’re doing, otherwise we just ‘blah blah blahing’, Rob had to poke his head back in and go “Can you just remind us which one of us is Jim and which one of us is Terry?” So, it’s just – who knows… and you’re right – Geoff and Terry, if you go back… before The Late Show, Geoff and Terry used to be Me and Veitchy (Michael Veitch) in D-Generation. We used to do…

Santo pauses for a moment to try and think in the Wayback Machine.

.. but they were two similar guys and then Veitchy wasn’t there anymore, so Rob basically started doing the same kind of characters. I don’t know what their names are. I don’t know who’s Geoff and who’s Terry…

Me: As long as the same deliverance was right there, so you can make up any name you want…

.. Yeah, but look, it’s interesting you watch it (SSETF) and it still makes some kind of sense.

Me: It’s like with Roy & HG. They’ve got their own style of comedy, delivering the sport with the cheekiness. Recently with the winter olympics – their own character style and descriptions. You guys have the same thing as well. But it’s a unique presentation, because fans like myself know your style. That’s a way that we keep with you.

Oh yeah! It feels.. yes, it’s a long time ago, but it feels like when we were doing The Late Show – it’s alive, we don’t quite know what’s about to happen, we quite enjoy ‘deaths’, we quite enjoy when something doesn’t go quite right at the right time, I think we’re kind of addicted to just ‘live’. When I walk out of here (the studio) I’ll have a Producer come up to me and say “I’m so sorry I rolled the wrong thing and it didn’t come in on time” and I have to keep saying “No – you don’t understand, when that happens – it’s perfect.

Because you are constantly reminding your audience that it’s live” and it’s what I love doing. What we’re doing there and what we did on The Panel and I guess live shows, it just feels the same. Like what we do in radio, it feels the same and I wouldn’t do it any other way other than live.

I then waffle on with a related personal story of my own about my 9 to 5 job (I do this site as a hobby) in which Santo understands completely. But back to the interview.

Me: With Total Football, how many people are working behind the scenes? You possibly can’t watch every single game..

Well, Interesting you say that because the guys stir me about how much football I watch. I promise I wouldn’t watch that much but I end up doing it…

Me: Is this your binge-watching, you know.. [Insert topical show you’d love to binge-watch]

We do! It is like binge-watching, so luckily the season goes for… what.. for like 4 weeks?? No..

Me: Don’t you finish in May? (I think I’m wrong..)

We finish in May. We started in October and finish in May. I don’t know how many weeks that is.. BUT – we have no researchers. So we made a decision very early on that we would only research the stuff – we would only do our own research. We have people around us…

Santo points to a staff member walking away from us on the lounge.

… He’s an editor here. because as we were preparing for the show before, there were two games that we physically couldn’t keep our eyes on because we were preparing and editing for this (the show I attended), he kept an eye on a couple of things and just came up to us and said “Hey look, this happened in the game, do you want to have a look at it?”. So two or three things in the show were pointed out to us by somebody else, otherwise it’s stuff we find during the week.

We do our own editing. We have two editors in the suites, but everyone edits their own stuff with an editor. I think I’d hate to do a show where it was completely researched, but even where a lot of the stuff was given to us by a team of comedy writers – we have some REALLY good guys that write to us and say “this is my experience – do you need an extra writer?”. We look at that and go “Shit! They’re really good! They’re probably more qualified than we are in terms of comedy” or their credentials about who they’re worked with – but we thought, we have a particular sensibility, and it would probably be harder to actually get someone to think and choose. It just takes longer.

But the reason why we performed in Frontline – we just figured it would take too long to explain to better actors on how to perform stuff. But we go “You know what? Even though we’re not really good actors, let’s just do it ourselves because it’s quicker. A lot of stuff we’ve done in our careers we’ve decided to act ourselves. But apart from Rob – who is a really good actor, we’re pretty shithouse actors. So the way we do it here is pretty lean. It’s guerilla television.

Me: The tiny little bits and pieces from the crowd during the games, how do you spot them?

We’ve learnt to spot things at ‘x 6’ on the IQ. We can’t anything in real time. Unless they’re games we really want to watch. There are some matches you’d want to watch in real time, and you do, because we’re determined not to kill our love for the game. If the show ever gets too intrusive into a personal love of the game, then we’d stop it. Tom and Rob made a decision not to do any more fishing shows because it got in the way of their love of fishing.

Me: A River Somewhere!

Yes! So, they realised after a while if we keep doing this, we won’t really – we really want to enjoy our fishing trip that we love.

… now here’s the zinger which made me smile…

I suspect, when we look back at it after all these years, our love of our own company and our own lifestyle got in the way of doing another series of The Late Show. I caught up with Mick (Molloy) during the week and it was so good to catch up with him. We love each others’ company so much that at a certain point we would probably realise once the projects start getting in the way of your own enjoyment of something, it starts becoming counter-productive to your comic observation of stuff.

Me: Do you get a lot of people asking about stuff from the past?

Yeah! That happens a lot. We do get a lot, but as you know, we love it. We love looking at.. actually don’t like looking at the stuff from the past, but we look back at those days with great love. There’s nothing we’ve done that we don’t look back at with fondness. But we love moving on.

… and here’s the part you – the reader – will love…

It would be great to do a Late Show reunion or another Panel again at some point. It would be great. It really would. But then what happens is that it would get in the way of exciting projects.. like doing a play for the MTC (Melbourne Theatre Company – Working Dog‘s upcoming play The Speechmaker). It’s an exciting project. If we go back and do something, then maybe Thank God You’re Here wouldn’t have happened, so we just like to look forward to do stuff. Some things work, some things don’t – but we just keep moving forward.

There is a little bit more to the interview, but I’m saving that for later. You’ll see why, when it happens.

As like with HYBPA?  – to be an audience member for Total Football:

  1. It’s FREE!
  2. You get fed nibblies and drinks!
  3. It’s FREE!
  4. You’ll have fun!
  5. It’s Free!
  6. Located in Melbourne – I live interstate and stayed in a motel about 20 minute drive which I got at a decent rate though those cheap hotel deal sites.
  7. It’s fr… you get the idea.

Just click on the link and fill out your details. They’ll do the rest.

Santo, Sam and Ed’s Total Football – 7:10pm Sundays on Fox Sports One. Check the guide for replays.

Santo Sam and Ed Twitter | Facebook

PS: Big shout-out to Tom, Santo, Sam, Ed, Michele, Courtenay, Xavier, Pauline, Sarah, Michael and everyone else who I spoke or interacted with while visiting both sets. Keep up the fantastic work.

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