The Enmore Theatre is sold out, and it feels like recess in the schoolyard. Everyone is ready to laugh.
triple j expat, Scott Dooley, kicks things off confidently with a short and sharp set, instantly getting laughter in waves. Dooles is the troublemaker on the playground, drawing his mates in with dirty stories and making fun of the cool kids.
Now Wil hits the stage and it’s apparent that he’s the teacher on duty. Not a taskmaster, but the cool teacher who lets you play Red Rover. Mr. Anderson opens the show with an extended bit of crowd work that proves he’s something of an off-the-cuff genius.
He long ago stopped being the enfant terrible – these days he’s a pro; last year’s Gold Logie nom made that official. Yes, he still rattles the cages, but he’s more grown up about it. Yes, there’s still plenty of the shouty, rapid fire, verbose railings that he’s become famous for. But there’s also a different Wil, a more thoughtful Wil, a Wil who’s perhaps been humbled by a year of bad luck. And it’s when he becomes personal that you can feel the audience literally lean in closer; we want to hear about his country childhood, his Dad’s wedding day cricket match, his struggle with osteoarthritis. We want to hear about him. And, yes, it helps that he’s funny.
The show’s called GoodWil and it’s not just a punny title. There’s a thread of optimism, charity and humanity that ties together his trademark manic riffs, jabs at celebrities and sincere anecdotes. The message here is: be positive. It’s a simple message, but I can’t think of a better one to tell a theatre full of people. Or a schoolyard full of troublemakers.
BY CAMERON JAMES