Tim Brunero writes and produces for the satirical powerhouse The Chaser, where the line between journalism and comedy is increasingly indistinct. Tim is a staunch follower of the tradition of gonzo journalism, in which the writer takes part in the story, throwing aside objectivity and reporting from their own experiences. He has flung himself headfirst into some pretty unusual situations: he’s mingled and mixed with conspiracy theorists, Scientologists, Christian extremists and – perhaps his most terrifying assignment – fellow Big Brother housemates. All in the name of a good story – and a good laugh. In fact, Tim’s entire career seems to be based on that critical formula: a careful combination of intelligence, diligence and a good sense of humour. Except, possibly, appearing on Ready, Steady, Cook.
How did you first get into journalism? Where were you working?
I began as a copy boy at News Limited in Sydney working on The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. You haven’t lived until you’ve done a shift in the ‘Radio Room’ – where we monitored all Sydney’s police radios for potential stories. Trying to listen to 10 different things at once for eight hours can leave you pretty tranced out.
What I produce is not simply factual, but blends facts with opinion and humour. I think that, so long as it informs, it’s journalism.
I did an undercover piece with a group called Freedom Force who are operating out of Bondi Junction. They are bizarre eco-conspiracy theorists. They believe those white trails you see behind planes are chemicals that the World Bank sprays to control the weather. Trying to keep a straight face while sitting at a meeting of these people is a real ask. You have to remember to stay on target.