Sunday, 27 March 2016

Wil Anderson in Fire at Wil, March 25, 2016 ****1/2

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Comedy Theatre, until April 17, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****1/2 
Review also in Herald Sun Comedy Festival web page today, Sat March 26, 2016. KH

It must be exhausting inside Wil Anderson’s head during his new show, Fire at Wil, in which he delivers a barrage of gags at the firing rate of an AK47.

Anderson’s head visibly vibrates with barely contained energy as he hurtles through 70 minutes of cunningly written comedy that illuminates current political and social issues with his inimitable wit and intelligence.

His gags target lefty hipsters and stuffy conservatives alike, but he begins with his lament over losing masses of great, topical comedy when Tony Abbott, that goldmine of comic material (onion-eating – say no more), lost the Prime Ministership to Malcolm Turnbull in 2015.

Despite Turnbull not doing any ridiculous stuff – in public, at least – Anderson still gets heaps of comic mileage out of him, starting with Turnbull’s memorable quote, ‘There’s never been a more exciting time to be alive’, an epithet Anderson reiterates throughout the show.

With exceptional comic skill, warmth and audience engagement (or is it clever crowd manipulation?), Anderson challenges the preconceptions and political views of his audience, tempering his jibes and criticisms with non sequiturs and absurd links to giraffes giving birth.

He reminds us of our love of the Long Weekend while challenging our views on Australia Day and the First Fleet or pointing out the common ground between Republicans and Monarchists in this country.

‘We (humans) work together’, he repeats, taking the crowd with him as he confronts us with issues about refugees and boat arrivals, rampant and irrational racism, the ill- treatment of Adam Goodes by football fans and a few sideswipes at Pauline Hanson, Andrew Bolt and Cory Bernardi.

Anderson generates belly laughs and giggles while craftily taking the crowd with him on a carefully structured journey to some glimmer of awareness of the spectrum of views on crucial social issues.

He zips between topics ranging from Halal food to David Jones and terrorism, then to lunatics ranting on Twitter and a rave about toasters.

Anderson keeps the audience on side with cunning twists and turns, reincorporation and gentle ribbing, social commentary and discreet targeting of individuals and issues.

Fire At Wil is an evening of huge laughs from a consummate comic talent with a social conscience – if you can keep up with his Eveready Bunny pace.

By Kate Herbert


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