My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Wilarious Comedian Brings Free Wil to the Powerhouse
Wil Anderson is one of the best comedians in the world, is arguably the best Aussie comedian, he's in my top five favourite live acts, plus, he's a genuinely lovely human being. Like Nick Cave (but heaps funnier) Wil writes new material every day; funny one-liners to populate his Twitter feed, plus enough material to build an entirely new show every year. I was lucky enough to talk to Wil just after his huge Sydney Opera House gigs, about his new show Free Wil, appearing at this year's Brisbane Comedy Festival.
When asked about his daily writing process he said, "I tend to get up in the morning around 5.30, 6 and I take that quiet first few hours of the day to answer email and catch up on the news from around the world. If anything takes my fancy as a topic for stand-up, podcast or TV I tend to just bookmark it and file it. That way when I want to concentrate on producing content for one of those worlds, everything I need is already there and I can just start being creative."
He adds, "If there are some good news stories around I will try to write some jokes for social media. I try to balance out a mix of free content so people don't complain as much about the plugs. The rest of the writing process is a mystery. It's whatever it takes to get the job done. It will be a mixture of actual writing, toying with an idea in your head, improvising on stage, or sometimes just allowing yourself to be in situations where it will provoke an idea in you... and most importantly being open to the idea that it's never finished. I recorded the last ever show of Wiluminati last night for the DVD and there was a four-minute new chunk off the top of my head on a bit I have been doing for nine months."
Anyone who has seen his shows can tell you he is a skilled improviser and his written material is solid. His wry, insightful humour is political, social, and sometimes just silly fun. Wil really connects with the crowd when he delivers his stand-up routines and isn't aggressive or combative toward his audiences. He shows passion, humanity, humility, and destroys the ridiculousness of existence with astute logic. You'll find yourself laughing at many 'funny because it's true' moments in Wil's shows. Perhaps those are some of the reasons why he's the four time winner of the Melbourne Comedy Festival's People's Choice Award.
Of why he enjoys performing, he says, "There are a bunch of reasons, but the one I keep coming back to in my mind is the challenge. Stand-up is something you can never master, and every single show feels different and I think the more experienced you get the more you welcome and enjoy that. I have a favourite Radiohead quote I like to use when I think about performing which is, just for a minute there I lost myself, and there is this magic moment when you are IN a joke on stage, and everyone is there with you that is quite magic, and just for a minute you lose yourself and become one with the crowd. That's why I like festivals because at the end of the day I am still that kid who ran away to join the circus. I have done radio jobs, but I didn't get into comedy to work in an office. I want to drink, and have fun, and laugh and see shows and hang out with other artists."
Although he might not be keen to return to radio, a recent Double J celebration of 40 years on air had old school Triple J listeners frothing at the mouth over a two hour reunion of Wil with his breakfast show co-host Adam Spencer. Younger readers may know him better from his insightful Gruen series of shows on the ABC. These days Wil spends a big chunk of his year in the US, touring and playing shows all around the country. He's also at the helm of the hugely popular podcast TOFOP, which he co-anchors with Charlie Clausen and other special guests.
While Wil's multi-media successes have earned him national recognition, he is first and foremost a master of the stand-up comedy stage; making the extremely difficult task of bringing hundreds of people to paroxysms of laughter look effortless. Even the titles of his shows are funny! Since 1998 his live show names have been puns on his name, some notable favourites of mine being: Wilarious (2012), Wilosophy (2009), Wil Communication (2006), Licence to Wil (2004), and Wil of Fortune (2001).
So what can audiences expect from his upcoming Brisbane Comedy Festival show Free Wil?
Always humble and frank, he replies, "I never know what to say to that question. I don't even know what to expect. I improvised five new minutes in my DVD recording - that surprised even me! I guess the best way to answer it is they can expect to see me trying to do something better and more interesting than I have done before. Hopefully something that takes more risks and makes me a better comedian, that's all I am ever really trying to do."
When asked how he'd convince someone to see his show, he muses, "I guess I would say, ask someone who has seen me before. At the end of the day the best way to convince people to come to shows is do great shows to the people who are already there and hopefully the rest just works itself out. I don't tend to spend a lot of mental time trying to convince people to come (and that applies to getting to them read/listen/watch other things I do). I would rather spend as much as possible of that time making great stuff for the people who are already there... and I think that tends to grow your audience anyway."
Since Wil is too modest to do the hard sell, I'll do it for him. If you like to laugh a lot, you simply must see Wil at the Powerhouse in March. He's hilarious, at the top of his game and sure to delight and surprise you.