The Best Advice Ever: Osher Günsberg on TV Stardom, Satirising the News (and Himself) and Giving 100 Percent

Fresh from 'The Bachelors', Osher Günsberg is taking to the stage with a live news parody — and we chatted to him about his career, new gig and comedy dreams.
Sarah Ward
Published on February 13, 2023

VJing on now-defunct pay TV music channel Channel [V], then hosting Australian Idol, The Bachelor franchise and The Masked Singer: they're dream gigs. So is appearing as yourself on Neighbours and Offspring, narrating Bondi Rescue, popping up on everything from Thank God You're Here to Have You Been Paying Attention?, running successful podcasts and writing a book. Since getting his start in radio in Brisbane, Osher Günsberg has ticked off all of the above and more for over two decades, and has rarely been far from the spotlight — but he's also always wanted to make fun of the news live in front of an audience.

That show now exists, complete with the requisite tongue-twister name: NTNNNN: Night Time News Network Nightly News with Osher Günsberg. "It's an old joke, but it works," Günsberg tells Concrete Playground, his enthusiasm evident over the phone. "How many Ns can you make it? I think The Chaser had four and I wanted to get more than that, so I've gone with five Ns."

Premiering in January and playing Marrickville's Factory Theatre in Sydney until Friday, February 17, then set for a debut Victorian stint at Malthouse's Beckett Theatre from Thursday, March 30–Sunday, April 9 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, NTNNNN is a fully improvised live satire of the news of the day. The show's targets don't stop with whatever's earning attention before each gig, however, also parodying the entire news industry plus Günsberg's stardom.

"It's just such a ripe field to plough. It deserves fun being poked at it," Günsberg notes. "Essentially, it's a news show. It's like the six o'clock news or the late news, the 10.30 news. And it's the headlines of the day, with my intrepid NTNNNN news team out in the field — on stage," he continues. 

"It's completely unpredictable. It's news in the way you've never seen it before. It completely takes the piss out of what people want to cling to in times of uncertainty, which is someone being super sure on television — whether it be a leader or a news anchor or someone who's paid to do long-form editorials late at night on television. We have commercial breaks, because you've always got to have commercial breaks. And if you've never been in a TV studio for a filming, the commercial breaks are a very strange time. People at home are watching ads, but you in the studio are still there, and all the TV people are still in the room. So that actually happens."

The end result: Günsberg in a comedic role that he doesn't usually get to slip into, and one that's worlds away from hosting The Bachelors and the like. He's also hoping that it's a step towards making NTNNNN an on-screen reality, as he explained in a chat about the onstage show, his own fame, his need to always give 100 percent and the best advice he's ever been given.

"I've always wanted to host a live satirical news show. I'm going the long way about it, but yeah, absolutely, would I want to see this on TV one day? For sure. By the time that it gets there, will what we call television exist? Who knows. I'm only interested in building things that scale, so I'm going to see how far I can take it."



"I've always wanted to host a satirical news show since I was a kid. I've always felt that satire, particularly satire of news and current events, was as valuable in the public discourse as a really solid, well-researched editorial or a really great newspaper article that exposes something.

I think satire has the ability to expose stuff that is usually shrouded in solemnity, for example the solemnity of office. 'Ooh, we can't say that, that person's very important' — but look what they've done, you know? When you use satire, you can break out of that stuff and look at things from a different angle. 

So I've always wanted to host a show like that, and I've had a few chances here and there — I've done a stint on a panel once or twice. And I guess I figured out that no one was going to walk down my front path knock on my door and say 'hey, we've got this great television show, can you come and host it?'.

It was going to be up to me to create it, so that's what I've done. It's the news show that I've always wanted to host — it just isn't on television at the moment. But it plays with all of the language of television and television news, which is ridiculous. It's a product just like any of the TV shows that I make, and it deserves to have a bit of fun poked at it as well. So that's the show we've made."



"I think as the news becomes more and more of a product, in that it's a business — whether it's a website or a newspaper or a radio station, or a television network or program on a television network, essentially that's a product — it needs to rate. It needs to be able to justify the expense of it being created, so hopefully it brings in more money than it costs to make.

There are ways to get that to rate. There are ways to get eyeballs onto your content, and it doesn't matter what's in the news — the way the news is framed is to try to push those numbers, which is also worth having a crack at. Those are the laughs that we find, I think: the laughs of just the ridiculousness of how the news is told, and the ridiculousness of the way the systems and the people who are in charge of those systems play the news against itself from one publication or one network to another. 

There's a way that you'll get quoted on one particular network and then the very same press conference will have a completely different soundbite, because that is the lens through which those networks view the situation. I think it is in exposing those moments and having fun with that, those are where the laughs are. 

So it doesn't matter what's in the news cycle, there's always something funny — there's always something to laugh at."



"I've been working in TV for nearly 25 years. It's ridiculous that I'm even still on air, so I think it's important — most of this is me taking the piss out of myself as well. I think I'm this ridiculous character on television, and I really enjoy taking the piss out of the way that I do some of the jobs that I do on television. I know I'm very good at them, but that's not everything about me. So it's funny for me to take the piss out of the person I become when I do those jobs — I think it's quite funny for me to have a crack at him, too.

There's a lot to work with. I think there's this mystical idea of a person on television. I enjoy busting the bubble of what people think life is like when you have a job like the job that I have. Because there's only one person who's actually really living the mega mega mega mega dream, and that's the man who's the smartest with his money than any of us — that's bloody Larry Emdur.

Me, I'm paycheque to paycheque, and I think that's hilarious — and well-worth making fun of. I was in television before the global financial crisis, and maybe there was a time when I was getting paid that kind of money. But, that was also a time when I was drinking very heavily, and I was doing really dumb stuff, so all that money's gone. And they don't pay that kind of money anymore, so it's pretty funny.

I am going do whatever job people want me to. I have kids and a mortgage. I'm in the business of topping up my super and making sure I pay off my mortgage. I'm making sandwiches after this. I've got two podcasts going on, I'm trying to get this live show happening — I've got not enough room on my stove, there's that many irons in the fire."



"I'm nearly 50, and what you want in life changes over time. When I was working in radio at B105 in Brisbane, what I wanted in radio is certainly not what I want in radio now. 

Through this show, am I exorcising that need to question authority or challenge the status quo that I just adored watching people on television do when I was a kid? Yeah! I think that's important. Systems should be challenged, status quos should be challenged, because that's how you refine them.

There's always 'ooh, you can't say that about the Prime Minister' — but you can. And it's useful when you do, if you do it in the right way. 

I'm thrilled to be calling back to that 14-year-old watching TV at night in Brisbane, feeling he was being naughty hearing someone say something about the leader of the country that he in his heart felt was also true.



"I lived in America for about ten years, and my manager was an absolute legend of the game over there, a bloke by the name of John Ferriter — a really big bigwig. I was so lucky to get in with him, and he's the one who told me that only you know how hard you've worked to make your dreams come true.

He's right. Because you can tell everyone around you, 'oh, I didn't get into that course' or 'oh, I didn't get the job' or 'oh, he doesn't want to go out with me'. And people will go, 'yeah, no problem, moving on'. But you're the only one that knows 'did I actually pick up the phone enough times, did I put the work in, did I study hard enough, did I train hard enough?'. You're the only one that knows that, and you're going to have to be okay with that.

That means that whether you're going for a job on television, or you're going for a job at the coffee shop down the road, or you're studying for your grade ten exams or your grade 12 exams, or you're trying to pass your apprenticeship certificate, or you're going for uni — or you're trying to meet someone and convince someone to fall in love with you, or you're trying to date somebody — only you will lie in bed at night knowing how much effort you actually put in.

For someone like me, I am no good if I haven't put in everything. So I'm pretty stuck, I've got to do it as hard as I can, because I can't rest if I don't."


NTNNNN: Night Time News Network Nightly News with Osher Günsberg plays Marrickville's Factory Theatre in Sydney until Friday, February 17, and will then head to Malthouse's Beckett Theatre from Thursday, March 30–Sunday, April 9 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Published on February 13, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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