As a youngster, Russell was fanatical about two things – footy and comedy. When he wasn’t playing junior football or barracking for his beloved Footscray (now the Western Bulldogs), he was listening to his collection of comedy records. Early favourites included: Abbott & Costello; Martin & Lewis; Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton. Later, he moved on to Cheech & Chong, George Carlin, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Steve Martin. A young Russell created his own jokes and routines, entertaining family & friends. At nights and on weekends, he was a part-time employee in a nearby pizza shop. Customers provided a ready-made audience for Russell’s brash sense of humour and he believes this constant interaction with people was the grounding for his stand-up comedy success.
By 2000, Russell was hosting his weekly, national television series, “Russell Gilbert Live”, with aired prime time Saturday nights on the Nine Network. This paved the way for the 2001 weekly half-hour comedy show, “Gilbert Was Here, which also aired on the Nine Network. Russell joined Melbourne Radio station Triple M as a regular guest alongside the likes of Bridget Duclos and Trevor Marmalade. In 200