After spending two years based in Los Angeles and touring across the US and Canada, Wil Anderson returned to Australia to host the ABC’s, Gruen. Back on Australian shores and performing his new show Fire at Wil, he will be touring across the country. Recognised as one of our finest comedians, Wil’s frenetic and candid style of delivery is well honed and hilarious. We talk to Wil about his upcoming tour, wearing many hats and the rampant-ness of political correctness.
Why is comedy so important to society?
Because laughter is the best medicine. Well, apart from actual medicine. In fact, now that I think about it, laughter is really the worst medicine, apart from homeopathy which is just weak cordial.
What do you think is a comedian’s role in today’s society, particularly when it comes to touring shows?
The comedian’s role is to walk on at the start, walk off at the end (or in my case limp on at the start and limp off again at the end) and in the hour or in-between say the funniest things you can think of in a row with appropriate pauses for laughter.
How did you come up with the Gruen Transfer? How do you think your comedy background marries well into advertising?
Andrew Denton and Jon Casimir were the creators of the show. They are both geniuses. Andrew said: “I want to make a show that gives people the tools to understand advertising…in the same way Frontline gave people the tools to understand current affairs shows.” Although mostly we show that there is just a lot of tools in advertising.
What would you call your own signature style of comedy? Ultimately, what do you try to achieve with each show?
I write a new show a year and I try to make it better than the last one. Luckily I feel like I have achieved this most years and the secret is starting from a very low base. Luckily I was shit when I started so there has been constant room to improve.
Are you after laughs or do you want to make people think?
I’m a comedian, not a politician. The point of the show is the jokes, and my rule is you can have a joke without a point, and you can have a point with a joke, but you can’t have a point without a punch line. Then it’s a Ted talk.
You wear many hats: media personality, presenter, you’ve studied journalism, you’re a writer, you do stand-up and radio: How is it that your foundations in comedy have managed to fan out in so many different directions?
Technically none of those jobs involve hats; you may be confusing me with Molly Meldrum. But the truth is that stand-up, TV, radio, podcasts, writing, improvising, Twitter or whatever, your job is to be funny and the rest is just the package it gets delivered in.
Political correctness is so rampant these days: how do you manage to deal with it when being a comedian is so clearly about taking the mickey out of anything and anyone? When does comedy step across that line?
People saying “political correctness is so rampant these days” is so rampant these days, but I must admit I haven’t found it an issue in comedy. Anyway, the best comedy is always the stuff that finds out where the line is when it looks back over its shoulder.
How do you push yourself to develop as a comedian?
Hideous mortgage and no other life skills.
Where do you find new material?
It’s always in the last place you look. Your Mum was right.
What else have you been working on and what are you looking forward to in 2016?
I have 50 odd shows of ‘Fire At Wil’ in the next two months, and then I am recording last years’ show ‘Free Wil’ as a special. After that, I may be so exhausted you will need to drag me around Weekend at Bernie’s style for a couple of months.
What do you look forward to when you come to Brisbane? What do you think of Brisbane?
I think this year is my 17th in a row bringing my show to Brisbane, and I’ve always appreciated the huge support I get from Queensland audiences. Plus, the Powerhouse is one of the most beautiful performing spaces in the country.