Wil Anderson has been described as "the rock star of the Australian comedy world,' however the man himself declares the reality is very different, and that there is a marked contrast between the lives and careers of a famous comedian and a high profile musician.
Well, a particular reviewer said that once," he recalls, "I'm not too sure to this day if they were trying to be a smartarse!" he laughs heartily. "There's similar things in some ways, but as every comedian will tell you, the one thing that every single comedian in the world is jealous of when it comes to rock stars is the idea that if you have a good song, people want to hear it over and over and over again. Whereas if you're a comedian and you never come out on stage and they go 'dude, do 'Klim is milk spelt backwards from 1999!' We'll all sing along and hold up our lighters!' No. So, it's always about new stuff."
Wil is smack bang in the middle of a tour that is taking him across almost the entirety of this wide brown land of ours. And as he has been for many years now, he is giving audiences nationwide a rollicking good time.
I'm kind of in the middle of it, actually," he states, "I'm doing the Sydney run of it at the moment, it started in February, I went to Adelaide, it's been to Brisbane, New Zealand, London, Ireland. And then when Sydney finishes it gets to the more interesting parts of Australia! I've got a bit of a random schedule, because we do Gruen during the week. So basically it's places I can get to on the weekend. I'm going to Townsville, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Canberra, and smaller places, Nowra, I go Sale, which is where I'm from. Some of them are massive, and some of them are little, a lot of them are weekend trips!"
So what can punters expect from your show when they see you this time around? "More swearing than they see on television!" he emphasizes, "that's the warning I like to give to people…in the past, if people came to see me do standup, they had a pretty fair idea of what they were going to see. Whereas these days you do get some people who are like 'oh well he seems lovely on the television'. And then they come to the show and they're like 'oooh, he doesn't say 'fuck' that often on Gruen!'
The show itself," he continues describing, "I mean standup comedy is what I do for a job. So basically it's the 'true' me, the most fun me I guess, in many ways. The show itself was summed up by a punter when I was doing my Queensland run, and I hadn't really put into words what the show was about…this guy came up to me, in the roughest proper Queensland accent and went 'ya know what your show is about mate? It's what you reckon about 'stuff', why you reckon it, and why you reckon you might be wrong about reckonin' it!' And I was like 'that's exactly what the show's about!' I wouldn't have summed it up that way, I would have said it was about the complexity of modern decisions, and how we all live in an ambiguous and grey world, and everything needs to be absolute but most of us are hypocritical, but you know what? I reckon he said it well!"
So that also begs the question, how does Wil keep his comedy fresh, especially when, unlike a song from a well known band or artist, people don't like to hear the same jokes from the same comedian over and over again?
I guess that's the hardest thing," he muses, "because as we joked about at the start, comedy audiences are voracious audiences. They always want new material. So when I'm putting together a tour, I do one tour a year, so I write a new show every year. I tour nine months of the year and I have three months where I don't tour. And that nine months is my writing and conceiving of the tour time. So that's the most important time…I could sit down and write an hour of jokes that I can use and references that would amuse people enough for them to enjoy themselves and they wouldn't complain and want their money back. But I don't really write with that in mind. I write (thinking) that I've gotta say this stuff for nine months, I'm gonna say this stuff 200 times, what would I be interested in talking about, every night for nine months, coz the minute I'm not interested, then the audience won't be interested either."
It's a long way from a tiny rural Victorian town to touring Australia and the world, hosting TV shows and all the myriad other endeavours the man has on the go. "I'm a country Victorian, originally," he says, "born and raised on a Dairy farm down in East Gippsland. My Dad lives on the road he was born on, my Grandfather built the road, and it's called Andersons Road, named after my Grandfather. My brother's back on the farm as well. But I've lived in Sydney for 11 years I guess. I came up here when I started doing the Triple J Breakfast show. Then the next job I got was doing the Glasshouse, which was out of Sydney, we did that for six years. Then the next job was at Triple M, doing the radio, and that was out of Sydney. Now I'm doing Gruen which is out of Sydney. It seems like I came for a weekend and stayed for a lifetime. I get from all my Melbourne friends 'when are you moving back?', now it's a bit more like 'are you ever moving back?'"
Rockhampton: Pilbeam Theatre on Friday the 14th October. Townsville: The Venue on Saturday 15th October. Perth: The Astor on Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd October. Newcastle: Civic Theatre Newcastle on Thursday 27th October. Port Macquarie: The Glasshouse on Friday 28th October. Gold Coast: Gold Coast Arts Centre on Saturday 29th October. Darwin: The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre on Friday 4th November. Bathurst: Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre on Thursday 10th November. Canberra: Canberra Theatre on Friday 11th November. Nowra: Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre on Saturday 12th November. Castlemaine: Theatre Royal on Friday 18th November. Sale: Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre on Saturday 19th November.