Book Review : Microphones Up My Nose by John Dybvig & Ray Lillis (1993)

Microphones Up My Nose, John Dybvig’s memoir of his journey from knocking NZ Basketball cock-eyed to TV Sports Guy at TV3 and Sky is a minor classic. Dybvig writes how he talks, featuring lots of swearing and well written dialogue. There’s a brief history of his basketball coaching career in NZ where he gained notoriety – you can imagine humourless 80s sports administrators SHITTING themselves when he arrived on the scene wearing tuxedos and throwing chairs. His first foray into media land was writing a column on Basketball – typing, let alone writing didn’t come easily at first – he tried using a Dictaphone:

“Aaaaaaaaah now let’s see… Adminstrators… Aaaaah What a bunch of dickheads… No no no can’t say that… but gees what is it with those guys? Do they take dumb pills or what? No no no hang on… Start Now… OK… OK… A national sporting league is only as good, strong and effective as its adminstration… That’s good, that’s good… Aaaaaaah…”

Dybvig gets into Radio and eventually joins Sky in its early days alongside a young Stephen McIvor*, “who could laugh his chops off at a scripted joke and later ask you what it meant”. He was on the fledgling NZ ‘celebrity’ circuit alongside luminaries like Belinda Todd, Willy De Wit, and Glenda Hughes – a very boozy scene by the sound, especially one piss marathon that lurches from the pub to boats to the golf course in the aid of Ronald McDonald House.

TV3 is next, and Dybvig works on Kid’s TV, Horse Racing ‘colour’, and the short lived local Pro-Wrestling show, where the bad guys were pelted on their way to the ring with plastic drink bottles by rioting pre-teens. There’s no end to the book, really, he just kinds of drifts off into TV land, but it’s a fascinating view into the world of local TV and how small time it can be behind the scenes.

My copy came pre-signed by the man himself (“Happy reading, Cheers!”). I met him one time, I was arranging voice overs on an 0800 ad for (ahem) Bacon Magic. Dybvig was huge, but more subdued than I expected (or hoped). He loved infomercials, and told me his golf buddies all wore BluBlockers. He did his shouty voice as you’d expect, and it was class.

If you like this, try Technical Foul (Basketball’s Bad Boy Talks Back!), the story of his coaching career featuring the dreariness of life in NZ in the 80s.

“Buying anything in New Zealand is an exercise in 30 second politeness. It goes something like this:

Customer: I’ll have a dozen eggs, thanks.

Store clerk: Thank you.

Customer: Could I have pack of cigarettes too thank you.

Store clerk: Thank you.

Customer: Thank you.

Store clerk: That’ll be $2.35 thank you.

Customer: (Hands over money) Thanks.”

You get the idea. Dybvig has popped up on a few things since like Hercules, Xena, and even King Kong, and according to his website he’s written another book and is attempting to reinvent himself as Bill Bryson. I’m definitely tracking that one down.

*What is it with that guy – it’s like watching Rugby League with Elton John. Fair play that he showed up to get his face smashed in at the Fight for Life, but I guarentee all usually peace loving people were thinking “Punching Stephen McIvor really looks like fun!”.

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