Steve Vizard - Performing


In 1976, while at Melbourne University, Vizard appeared in the Archi Revue and the following year he and fellow university students established, wrote and produced the inaugural University Law Revue. After being spotted in the revue, Vizard wrote material for the inner Melbourne comedy scene. Between 1976 and 1982, while still studying at Melbourne University, Vizard wrote and performed in over a dozen productions, working at such theatres and cabarets as The Last Laugh and the Flying Trapeze with a variety of local performers including Rod Quantock, Wendy Harmer, Glenn Robbins, Peter Moon and Paul Grabowsky, who would later work with Vizard as the band leader on his Tonight show.

From 1979 for six years Vizard was the voiceover man for the iconic racing show Punter to Punter, starring Trevor Marmalade, Dr Turf and Con Marasco, on community radio station Triple R.

In 1985 Vizard wrote and produced a feature film, The Bit Part, starring Nicole Kidman, for which he was nominated for a Writers Guild award for Best Feature Film Screenplay.

In 1987 he was the head writer and a key performer on a television sketch comedy show, The Eleventh Hour, which kickstarted the television careers of Vizard, Maryanne Fahey, Mark Mitchell, Glenn Robbins, Ian McFadyen and Peter Moon.

In 1987, Vizard performed in the first Melbourne International Comedy Festival, launched by Peter Cook; and was one of the hosts of the Comedy Festival Gala in 1991.

In 1989, Vizard established, wrote and produced the hit primetime sketch comedy series Fast Forward. The series, which brought together the talents of some of the country's best performers, including Vizard, Peter Moon, Marg Downey, Jane Turner, Gina Riley and Ernie Dingo, and was Australia's highest rating comedy series. Fast Forward, and its successor programme, Full Frontal, ran for 10 years and the show and its cast accumulated 14 Logie awards (including Eric Bana for best Comedy talent). Fast Forward was distributed internationally and in the UK screened on BBC1.

Steve Vizard is best known for playing character roles on Fast Forward, as advertising guru Brent Smyth (with Peter Moon), Darryl (the gay airline Stewards, with Michael Veitch), 'Fakari' rug salesman Roger Ramshett (with Peter Moon), and Newsreaders Dirk Hartog. He also performed myriad impersonations, most notably of Derryn Hinch, Richard Carleton, Don Lane, Ian Turpie, George Donikian, Geoffrey Robertson and even Gough Whitlam in one instance. He also scripted and acted in Fast Forward's memorable send-ups of popular TV shows such as The Cosby Show, Kung Fu and The Munsters.

Between 1990 and 1994 Vizard hosted his own top rating nightly national tonight show, Tonight Live with Steve Vizard. He interviewed over a thousand guests including Bob Hope, Tim Robbins, Mel Gibson, Chevy Chase, Duran Duran, Cilla Black, Steve Allen, Barry Humphries, Lou Rawls, Tom Jones, Brit Ekland, Cleo Laine, Tiny Tim, Kylie Minogue, Brigitte Nielson, Audrey Hepburn, Elle Macpherson, Shirley MacLaine, Alice Cooper, BB King, Rob Lowe, Dionne Warwick, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Hall, Kirk Douglas, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, Sir Bob Geldof, Peter Allen, Sir Peter Ustinov, David Bellamy, Kim Wilde, Michael Aspel, Sally Field, Charles Dance, Whoopi Goldberg, John Thaw, Quincy Jones, Priscilla Presley, Robert Downey Jr, Mickey Rooney, Martin Sheen, M C Hammer, Lynn Redgrave, ZZ Top, Leo McKern, Kathy Bates, Jane Seymour, Daryl Hannah, Jeremy Irons, Jeffrey Archer, Edward de Bono, Robert Ludlum, James Wood, Diana Ross, Jackie Collins, Harry Connick Jr, Sir Harry Secombe, Gloria Estafan, Gerard Depardieu, George Benson, Fred Schepsi, Colleen McCullough, Burt Reynolds, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Ben Elton, Phyllis Diller, Alexei Sayle, Elliott Gould, Oliver Reed, Oliver Stone, Macaulay Culkin, Spinal Tap, Robin Williams and Cindy Crawford and various Prime Ministers and politicians.

Tonight Live often broadcast from overseas locations including Barcelona, London, New York. It featured a jazz band led by internationally recognised jazz composer and pianist, Paul Grabowsky. The show was said to have borrowed from the format used in Late Night with David Letterman, although Vizard was off the air by the time Nine Network decided to commence screening Letterman in Australia.

By 1994, when he retired from his on-air roles, Vizard had appeared on the cover of numerous publications, from Time to Rolling Stone. Vizard was nominated for a Gold Logie on four occasions, winning a Gold Logie as Australia's most popular television performer in 1991. Prior to his retirement as a performer, he won three further Logies as Australia's most Popular Television Presenter as well as 4 Television Society Awards, a Variety Club for Best Comedy Artiste and a Rolling Stone Magazine Award for Best Television Performer.

Vizard hosted many awards nights and concerts including the 1992 Logie Awards, the Bali Bombing Memorial Concert and the 1995 nationally televised 50th Anniversary of the End of World War Two Concert. During Vizard's hosting of the 1994 Australian Film Institute Awards, he joked about Australian screen legend Bill Hunter, who had appeared in several nominated movies that year, "each and every nominated film must feature Bill Hunter. This is a pro-rata rule ... Short films may enter into a Bill Hunter-sharing arrangement."

In 1998 Vizard performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, narrating Saint-Saens Carnival Of The Animals.

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