After an amazing 349 episodes, the Jason Dunstall-hosted Fox Footy Sunday night series Bounce continues to be the most-watched entertainment program on the Foxtel platform the days it airs.
It celebrates its 350th episode this coming Sunday night.
As to the secret of that success, Hawthorn great Dunstall told Mediaweek: “We are very fortunate that at the end of a football weekend there are a lot of people who like to wind down. We get a few older people and also a lot of young kids who have no idea we once played footy, but they just laugh at us having fun.”
Joining Dunstall on that very first program was another AFL legend, St Kilda great Danny “Spud” Frawley who has accompanied Dunstall over the TV journey.
Part of the comedy on Bounce is Dunstall and Spud punishing each other on special segments that are usually pre-recorded. As to who has worn it better, Dunstall said it was line ball.
“One of the things about the show is if you can laugh at yourself you can laugh at other people. Spud and I have always been prepared to be the butt of jokes.”
A recent episode started with a replay of Dunstall smacking Frawley across the backside. Frawley then read out a statement claiming he was no longer going to take the workplace punishment and would seek legal redress if there wasn’t an immediate apology. Maybe they won’t make it to 350 together after all!
Bounce always goes live after the final match of each round on a Sunday. “It’s been a lot more difficult this year,” admitted Dunstall due to games finishing at various times on Sundays.
“We were settled into the 7.30pm Sunday slot for the past few years, but this year there’s been a very different schedule of games from late afternoon through until 9.30pm. That makes it hard to build a regular audience when we’re not on at the same time every week. The closer we are around the 7.30pm mark the better it is for the program.”
Dunstall credited the program longstanding producer Bill Cannon as central to the program’s success. He’s been working on the program since episode one. Cannon joined Fox Footy in 2002 after many years at Seven in Melbourne.
“He’s a complete ripper and he gets a lot of fun out of watching us embarrass ourselves,” said Dunstall about the producer.
Not only is Cannon and his team on the lookout for recordings of anything funny, stupid or controversial that might have happened over the weekend, Dunstall said everyone at Fox Footy also has that brief.
Joining Dunstall and Frawley on the show for the past three years has been former Geelong great Cameron Mooney. “He has a couple of segments he does and he’s a very good looking younger man. That’s very important for our female audience because they are not tuning in to look at Spud or me,” laughed Dunstall.
“The fourth spot of the show has been rotated between three people this year – Sharni Layton, the former netball superstar who now plays AFLW for Collingwood, Andrew Gaze, who has been with us for a number of years on and off depending on his other commitments. He is one of my favourites and we get on so well. He is the nicest bloke you could ever meet – nobody ever had a bad word about him. And we have introduced Bernie Vince this year, a recently retired Melbourne player who is outstanding and he has a great sense of humour and he’s been a breath of fresh air.”
Dunstall has cut back some of his other media commitments in the past couple of years. He is no longer on the Monday night On The Couch program, instead he has a regular spot on Thursdays on AFL 360. He also works with the team hosting the Friday night games from the Fox Footy studios and handles special comments during Saturday games.
Dunstall gets some weekdays off if he doesn’t need to pre-record for Bounce. “Our pre-recorded set-ups are rarely done in less than a couple of hours,” said Dunstall. “As we do them we tend to explore things that work and drop things that don’t. If anyone comes up with an idea we run with it.”
Bounce doesn’t always air the best bits either. “One of the rules is that sometimes the worse it is the better it is to watch.”
Dunstall has also worked as a sports administrator in the past at his former club Hawthorn and more recently at the BBL team Melbourne Renegades where he was chairman and on the board for four years, culminating in the team winning the 2018 championship.
“Both the Stars and the Renegades have handed the BBL franchises back to Cricket Victoria,” said Dunstall. “It’s their right to take it back because they own the franchises and they are trying to rationalise the business in a tougher economy.”
Another Fox Footy colleague of Dunstall’s, Eddie McGuire, has been chairman of the other Melbourne BBL team the Stars since day one.
“It has been fun to be involved,” said Dunstall of his time with the Renegades.
Top Photo: Bounce regulars Cameron Mooney, Jason Dunstall and Danny Frawley