Wil Anderson has been dishing out the laughs at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for 23 years now and his audience continues to hold out a plate, Oliver Twist style, asking for more. He’s clever, but not intellectually inaccessible; current, but timeless in his delivery, and he’s got a zippy mind accompanied by a fast-paced comic style that’s made him one of Australia’s most loved comedians. And so it’s hardly surprising that Anderson’s MICF show, held at the beautifully ornate Comedy Theatre, has sold out for the last 11 years.
In his new 70 minute show Wil-Informed, Anderson flits professionally between the sensitive, the serious, and the ridiculous. And while he brutally holds up a mirror to society, he does it with a softness of purpose. After all, he’s come to the realisation - with a little help from the dictionary - that he is now a middle-aged white male, and he doesn’t need his therapist to tell him that his kind have had a pretty good run. He opines that now it’s time to be better and do better.
What a slick way for the master marketing commentator to burn right into the Gillette advertising campaign that controversially turned the topic of Australian masculinity on its head and divided the country. And there was more serious content to come. Climate change and Anderson’s fears for the future of our world could have been a real downer for the crowd, but every solemn truth bomb and anxiety-inducing remark was clothed in a blanket of giggles; like his re-telling of the time that he hosted a house party but then left his guests to party on outside while he watched a David Attenborough documentary on the Great Barrier Reef which resulted in him sobbing with despair and helplessness just as his friends walked into the house to find him.
When he’s not delivering his rehearsed package of pre-prepared material, Anderson artfully displays his quick playful wit like a male peacock showing off his tail feathers in search of a mate. It’s a loose Anderson that revels in the exciting unknown involved in poking fun at randomly chosen audience members. First, it’s 21 year old Hannah with the unnecessary extra letters in her name, and then it’s late comer Doug’s turn, whose ‘Solutions Engineer’ job title was surely created for the sole purpose of being mocked at a comedy show.
Anderson’s an Australian comedy festival heavyweight. If you want a guaranteed laugh and good time, he’s the one to put your money on.
Highlight: Anderson considering whether he is, in fact, a robot because of all the times he’s forgotten his password and had to face the ‘are you a robot test’ and failed.
Lowlight: The amazing painted backdrop projection depicting a forest scene with a giant tree trunk, animals, and human skulls that Anderson didn’t allude to even once. Is it supposed to mean something? Not sure. Is it much of a lowlight? Not really, hence the high star rating.
Crowd favourite: Anderson picking on members of the audience – because everyone loves that shit when it’s happening to someone else.
This article was first published in Beat Magazine