Merrick Watts prepares to host Insurance Business Awards

Reveals risqué opening joke

Merrick Watts prepares to host Insurance Business Awards

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

On Friday evening, the industry’s finest will gather in Sydney for the Insurance Business Awards 2024. The event’s master of ceremonies is comedian, radio broadcaster and television presenter Merrick Watts (pictured above).

The annual awards celebrate the hard work of insurance professionals across a total of 21 prestigious categories and includes a black-tie dinner and live entertainment.

See the full list of winners for the Best Insurance Professionals and Brokers Worldwide here.

What has Watts learned about insurance?

This is the second time Watts has hosted the event. Insurance Business asked what he’s learned about the industry.

“It's really interesting because I don't think I knew that much about the insurance industry and how it works, right? And then, obviously, having done a gig I’m none the wiser,” said Watts. “I still have absolutely no freaking idea.”

Find out more and book your ticket: Attend the Insurance Business Australia Awards

Watts said his ignorance comes despite having insurance himself.

“The funny thing is, I've got insurance,” he said. “I know how it works but I actually still have no idea how it works.”

The former Triple J host said his solution to this problem is to get on Google.

Another profession like insurance broking?

“This is how I do everything in my life – and I literally just googled ‘insurance broker’ and it says: an insurance broker is an intermediary who sells, solicits or negotiates insurance on behalf of a client for compensation,” said Watts. “That to me, sounds like a form of prostitution.”

He said this will likely be his opening joke on the night: what is an insurance broker?

IB and Rolling Stone

Insurance Business asked if it was okay to print that joke before he tells it on May 3.

“Mate, you do whatever you like – I’m going to do it anyway,” said Watts. “I don't think anybody's going to read your publication.”

“You’re probably right, Merrick,” admitted IB.

“I hate to break this to you, but you're not exactly Rolling Stone; you do know that, don’t you?” said Watts.

Grumpy men and bright women

IB changed the topic and asked what he enjoys most about hosting these types of industry awards.

“I love the fact that sometimes industries have an external perception, or even an internal perception, which is actually matched by the people that work within it,” said Watts. “So the perception of an insurance broker is something like a grumpy, old bald man but then you meet funny, bright young women who work in the industry.”

He said, to him, the insurance industry appears to be a very diverse crowd.

“They actually really enjoy their night and they celebrate it and I think it's really fun, that's what I like,” said Watts.

Enjoying the night is key

IB asked him to reveal his preparation process for the awards.

“I do pride myself on briefing and bespoking all the work I do,” said Watts. “I get a briefing conversation with the hirer and the industry representatives so I have a bit of a feel for the key themes for the year.”

He said for some industries that might be interest rates, or the talent crunch or inflation.

“Whatever it is and however people have been affected,” said Watts. “I learn about those touch points and I think about integrating those and writing jokes around those.”

However, a key foundation of his approach, he said, is to make sure he enjoys himself on the night.

“I genuinely try to have fun because I think if you don’t look like you want to be there, then they don't want you to be there,” said Watts. “No matter what happens, I'm going to enjoy myself here.”

He said even if 80% of the audience are talking and not paying attention to your MC efforts, don’t be troubled.

“Then you think to yourself, well, there's 20% of the people here having fun, I'm having fun, let's do this,” Watts said.

Do insurance brokers have a sense of humour?

He also acknowledged that some insurance professionals can have a sense of humour.

“Typically – that's the funny thing about insurance brokers – they're actually really quite fun and they like taking the piss out of people, particularly real estate agents.”

IB asked what sort of feedback he received after his last two hosting sessions.

“I’ve been booked again, that’s the feedback,” he said. “That’s literally the most positive feedback you can get.”

More on Merrick

Watts is likely best known for stand-up comedy performances and his role as one half of the comedy duo Merrick & Rosso (Tim Ross). He’s a regular on Australian radio. In 2020, Watts also took part in a physically and psychologically demanding training course for his appearance in Channel 7’s SAS: Australia. Lately, Watts has taken his wine show, An Idiot's Guide to Wine, on tour.

The awards night is just days away

The Insurance Business Awards are taking place on May 3 at The Fullerton Hotel in Sydney.

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