Wil Anderson, known for his stand-up comedy genius and for hosting popular ABC program The Gruen Transfer, is back at the 2017 ADL Fringe with his new show Critically Wil. The titles of his past Fringe stand-up performances have been a little more punny (Fire At Wil, Wiluminati), but this year’s title is perfectly fitting for Wil’s new material, which is totally hilarious but also bitingly analytical and intelligent.
Wil walks out on stage to a cheering sell-out crowd while ACDC’s Back In Black plays. Looking mighty happy to be here, he announces that this is his 20th anniversary of performing stand-up at the Fringe and thanks the crowd for coming out. Without further ado, he launches into a bit about the way in which he discovered that Trump was the president (during a flight to the USA, where the captain spoke words you never want to hear your pilot say while you’re in the air: ‘surprise!’) As Wil splits his time between Australia and the U.S, it’s natural that quite a bit of his show is dedicated to dissecting Trump’s America – Wil manages to be both extremely entertaining and contemplative as he discusses the ‘post-truth’ world, Trump’s stance on climate change (an apparent Chinese hoax) and America’s gun violence problem.
Wil presents the audience with an incredible amount of thought-provoking and topical issues in a way that’ll still ensure you’re laughing til you’re in stitches. He pokes fun at Australia’s climate-change-denying politicians, sides with millennials on the housing market crisis, questions the current atmosphere of Islamophobia with clever quips and amuses the audience with personal anecdotes ranging from his experiences of growing up on a dairy farm to recent run-ins with naturopaths and cat-scan machines.
In a suddenly sobering moment, Wil stops chuckling and leans into his mic to share some saddening statistics regarding domestic violence against women in Australia. In light of the recent International Women’s Day, he acknowledges that his life as a straight, white male has been full of privilege, and reminds men not to invalidate the difficulties faced by women all around Australia. Then, it’s back to the jokes and the moment lifts with laughter ringing through the crowd once again.
This show highlights Wil’s clear desire to use his voice and gift for comedy to share important messages. Running slightly overtime simply because he has so much to say, he ends the night humbly thanking everyone once more and urging Adelaidians to appreciate the Fringe Festival and in particular, to check out the Rhino Room in its last year of serving as a focal point on the Adelaide comedy scene.
Critically Wil delivers everything you’d expect from this intelligent and worldly guy, but so much more. Not one to take cheap shots, he’ll make you cry with laughter while still critically and cleverly exploring the political, social and environmental issues that riddle modern Australia. For what I believe is the best stand-up comedy you’ll see this Fringe season, get yourself to the Vagabond and check out Wil Anderson’s Critically Wil.
Star Rating: 5/5
What: Wil Anderson's 'Critically Wil'
Where: The Vagabond, The Garden of Unearthly Delights
When: 11th - 19th of March
Header image via Adelaide Fringe's website.