As a youngster, comedian Russell Gilbert was fanatical about two things – footy and comedy.
In 1984, Russell Gilbert made his first professional stand-up tryout at Melbourne’s Kamikaze Café. An immediate hit, he quickly scored bookings at the Back of Bourke Theatre and Dick Whittington Tavern. In 1986, after seeing him perform at Le Joke, Daryl Somers invited Russell to perform performed on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. He was then invited to appear with Wendy Harmer and The Cabbage Brothers in the annual Christmas show at the Last Laugh – one of the most prestigious events on the comedy circuit calendar. He also teamed up with Trevor Marmalade and Glenn Robbins as Bizarre Laugh Triangle. The trio played the Last Laugh, before touring Australia.
In 1988, following an audience warm-up for The Comedy Company, Russell Gilbert was signed up to write for the television series. He then joined the cast performing his memorable (endearing, but frustrating) character, Russell the Postie. By The Comedy Company’s third year, Russell was featuring in various sketches.
In 1991, Russell Gilbert joined the team at Hey Hey It’s Saturday. He created the popular “Celebrity Heads” segment, and his impromptu interruptions from the audience, live crosses and sketch comedy segments became an integral part of the program. In 1996, he was rewarded with a Logie nomination for Best Comedy Performer. This lead to his comedy special The Russell Gilbert Show, followed by six half-hour shows. Russell remained with Hey Hey It’s Saturday until its final airing in late 1999.
During this time, Russell Gilbert also established a career in radio, starting with a spot alongside Richard Stubbs on 3XY, then on Triple M-Melbourne, 2NX-Newcastle, FOX FM, PMFM and weekends on Melbourne station 1116 SEN.
By 2000, Russell Gilbert was hosting his weekly national television series Russell Gilbert Live (Nine Network) and in 2001 he presented a weekly half-hour comedy show, Gilbert Was Here also on the Nine Network. The same year he supported Russell Crowe and his band “Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts”, on a 13-show tour of the USA.