Lehmo performs White Line Fever
Lehmo knew it was real love when his girlfriend gave him the 1978 VFL Grand Final Record for Valentines Day this year. He recalls thinking “I’m going to marry this chick, she clearly gets it!”
As an unabashed and self-confessed “sports tragic” his whole life, one of the problems has been “finding a girl who understands, or at least tolerates, your passion for sport,” he says. One previous girlfriend didn’t get it. She gave away tickets to a final she had found. “Are you out of your mind?!” he asked her, incredulous. It wasn’t until he explained that what she’d done was the equivalent of him having found a Tiffany necklace “and melting it down to make an ashtray” that she gained a little more insight into the crime she had committed against him.
But he’s now found “the perfect woman”. She’s not a massive sports fan, but she gets it, says Lehmo, “and that’s important coming into football season”. Her Valentines Day gift was especially touching for Lehmo as 1978 was the first Hawthorn premiership that he can remember.
His new stand-up comedy show for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Lehmo Has White Line Fever, starts the year before. “Sport, and in particular the Hawthorn Football Club, has ruled many aspects of my life and this particular show starts with my first memory of sport - me crying when Hawthorn lost the 1977 preliminary final,” says Lehmo, who is also a panellist on TV show Before The Game during the footy season and does breakfast radio Mix Mornings with Brig.
“They’ve brought me a lot of joy since then, and also a little bit of pain,” he says of his beloved team. But, as a sporting tragic, it’s not just football that captures his attention - or impacts on his relationships. “Then there’s cricket, then Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, Soccer World Cup, tennis, golf, car racing, horseracing, which leaves about two days a year you can catch up with your partner.”
The show isn’t just about sport, says Lehmo. Having recently performed it as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, where he’s originally from, one reviewer said he had “a Nick Hornby-like insight into the male psyche”. While there is plenty in the show for men to enjoy, “it’s not a bloke-fest”, says Lehmo. “I’ve had a lot of girls come up to me after the show and say they’re not into sport at all but really enjoyed the show.”
“It’s the journey of a sports fan,” he explains during a break from training for the Melbourne Grand Prix celebrity race, where his white line fever is alive and well. “As soon as you get into these cars, you change as a person. You become super-competitive and you must win at all costs. It’s been hilarious because everyone here, during our training days, said ‘come on, lets just all take it easy and be nice, no one get too pushy out on the track’. As soon as you get in the car? Everyone loses that and you see red and away you go.”
Whilst he’s not sure if his experiences on the track will make it into the show, he will be talking about his love of sport since childhood “to losing my innocence once I get to drinking age. Then the trials and tribulations once I discover girls and then re-discovering that innocence.” Ultimately, though, he says White Line Fever is about passion. “The sacrifices you make for that passion and how that passion affects other aspects of your life – and it’s funny the whole time.”
Lehmo performs White Line Fever at The Portland Hotel’s Portland Room from March 31 – April 24. it’s at 8.30pm Tuesday – Saturday and 7.30pm on Sundays. Tickets are $14 - $25 and available through Ticketmaster online, 1300 660 013 and at the door.