INTERVIEWS

Wil Anderson is Australian for Comedy.

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019669-wil-anderson (2)Performing at Rooster T. Feathers on April 23rd-26th, get ready for a fresh funny take on politics and pop culture with an infectious accent. From the land of aboriginal walkabouts and cute koala bears (caution, they have two penises) comes Wil Anderson. Wil Anderson is a stand up first and foremost, touring Australia and the world at every opportunity, performing more than two hundred shows a year. 2012 saw Wil busy touring his hit live show Wilarious to sold out venues around Australia, earning rave reviews and winning his third consecutive Bulmer’s People’s Choice Award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, not to mention being named one of comedy’s hottest acts by none other than John Cleese. SUSC caught Wil at his home in LA.

SUSC: Hey man, you in LA?

Wil Anderson: LA is my home base on this side of the world. I’ve been on the road though and just back in from Seattle. I actually got to experience weather and not feel guilt or shame. But I’m back in LA in the 100 year drought again.

Did you drive through the fires in Northern California?

No. I try not to drive, because I like to drink. Not trying to be outrageous, I just like to have a drink, especially when it’s hot, because I’m an Australian so I thought I would invest in planes and cabs rather than invest in a rental car.

I have a good buddy who lives in Perth. It seems to me that in Australia, drinking isn’t something you do, it’s part of who you are.

That’s probably very true. I have a good friend from Australia who is an actor and landed his first big role on True Blood. It didn’t help that over lunch with his agent he ordered several beers. His agent was like, “Are you an alcoholic?” He said, “No mate, it’s lunch time. In the old days, Australians would have a beer while their wife was delivering a baby.” The former prime minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, was at a cricket game recently. Hawke must be in his early eighties, now, he’s an old fella. And he’s walking through the crowd and someone hands him a giant glass of beer. Without hesitation, Hawke chugs the entire beer in front of the crowd—and that pretty much sums up Australia.

Do you have to change up your language when you play in America?

I think it’s much easier being a comic coming to Australia. We have a great awareness of American culture. So its not like when I come here I don’t know what the words or references would be. I know instead of saying “bin”, I say “trash”. I will replace “bloke”, with “dude”.  As long as people understand what I am saying, I use my own language, so they get the joke. First and foremost the audience has to understand the jokes. But I think there’s an appeal in seeing somebody from another country and people are curious to hear more about that. They want to know how an Australian sees the world and perhaps what an Australians impression of America is.

I’m aware of Australian culture because my wife made me watch 183 episodes of McCloud’s Daughters.

(sustained laughter) Oh my god, what did you do wrong that she made you do that?

I don’t know, that show seemed to calm her down, so I encouraged it.

Funny enough, my best friend and a guy I do my podcast with, Charlie Clausen, is an Australian actor and he’s flying to LA this weekend for the LA Podcast Festival. But, Charlie, my best friend and Podcast partner was in McCloud’s Daughters for a very long time. I cannot tell you which character he was because I’ve never seen a single episode of that show.

Consider yourself lucky. It doesn’t take much research to see that in Australia, you are as popular as koala bears. What is it like to leave a country where you are considered one of the most popular people on screen and stage, and coming to America where your name is still rising?

I understand why people would think that’s odd, but in stand-up comedy at every stage of your career you do big gigs and small gigs. I performed in front of 25,000 people at The Melbourne Comedy Festival last year. Even during that festival I was picking up gigs at above a Chinese restaurant for 40 people, or whatever. So you do Montreal Just for Laughs and the next night you’re in front of 14 people in the middle of nowhere, that’s what comedy is. My attitude is “try to get good outside Australia.” It’s very difficult for me to perform anywhere in Australia where people do not know my name. So how do I work on new material without having the audience already having an impression of who I am? In Australia we get the British influence and the American stand-up influence and I’ve brought both of those things into my stand-up. I grew up watching people like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks and all these other guys I really admired. So when I realized I needed to go somewhere else, America was the obvious choice. Honestly, it’s much easier performing in America. When I perform in England they’re still angry that 200 years ago they sent all their convicts to the most beautiful place on earth.

Guys who play in the NBA aren’t getting involved in neighborhood pick-up games on their days off to get better. Ballerina’s don’t dance in front of the Queen and then bust out the tutu on a street corner to stay sharp.

Comedy is a job where you have to get good working with an audience and you can’t get good working with an audience sitting in your room. You get your 10,000 times under your belt and you will know the difference between performing in front of 40 people or 40,000 people. You will understand how to make-do if there’s no microphone and the more you do different kinds of shows, you’re just adding to your knowledge base. And you need to not just be in the clubs. I imagine myself to be like an astronaut doing altitude training, I need to get myself into the most extreme situations so when I do have club dates, I’m well-conditioned.

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Interviews
09/29/2014

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