It’s a topic close to my heart: the design argument for the existence of God. That is, everything is so intricate and perfect that there simply must have been a designer, who - it is claimed - must have been God. This circular, question-begging and near sighted logic was - to myself at least - completely and utterly hilarious even without Wil Anderson taking religion up as a major theme and tagline for his latest stand-up show, aptly titled Wil of God. Imagine my amusement, then, when the 33-year-old comic compared himself favourably to Jesus - who died aged 33 - by pointing out that at least he can walk into a Bunnings without shitting himself.
Sacrilegious? Sure. Controversial? Definitely. But Wil Anderson makes no apologies for his points-of-view and that’s what makes him such an intriguing character. No one is safe as he wreaks havoc on religious hypocrisy in the war against fundamentalist Islam, his feelings on the Australian citizenship test, dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden and the subtleties of political linguistics. For example, has the gradual revision of ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ not been apparent enough for you? How about ‘friendly fire’ to describe killing your own or - in a more crass illustration of the point - people’s preference for ‘foreplay’ over ‘fingering’? Wil Anderson is an educated, independent thinker who knows all too well how to turn a left wing, socio-political rant into astute comedy. Needless to say, he’s not to everyone’s taste but - unlike lesser comedians, too scared to ruffle people’s deepest of convictions - Anderson knows his audience and has a brand of humour that not only leaves you in fits of laughter, it makes you truly think.
On the downside, there’s something about the comedian that reeks of smug self-importance. From taking on a role as his own emcee to his self-appointed nickname (‘Ando the Comedy Commando’) and continual references to his much-publicised ‘sacking’ from television last year, Anderson seems to suffer from a case of narcissism that undermines an otherwise brilliant comedic mind. Much like Jerry Seinfeld, he seems incapable of delivering many of his jokes without taking pause to laugh - or, at the very least, smirk - at his own talent, in turn jarring the audience out of the moment. In Tuesday’s performance, the laughter slowly petered to an awkward silence as the comedian fumbled over a variety of accents and seemed lost in his own amusement as the pace came to a momentary halt to which he appeared oblivious. Additionally, Anderson’s apparent belief that most people have encountered the illicit drug ice - and will therefore relate to an ongoing series of jokes made regarding its effects - came across as misguided. It’s a minor gripe but one that does limit the otherwise razor sharp and clever material in its chances of achieving true greatness.
In the end, Wil Anderson’s Wil of God is extremely good and leaves you with an appreciation for the here and now and a desire to think outside the box. As a stand-up comedian, Anderson is one of Australia’s best. As a socio-political commentator, he is bloody brilliant. It’s just a shame about that ego.
Following successful seasons in Melbourne and Sydney,
Anderson will be performing at the Brisbane Powerhouse until November 18.
Token Events presents
WIL ANDERSON: WIL OF GOD
Venue: Powerhouse Theatre
Dates/Time: Tues 6 November – Sun 18 November, 9.30pm (except Sat 17 and Sun, 7.30pm)
Tickets: Fri-Sat $38, Tue-Thu + Sun $34/$30, Preview $25
Bookings: 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org