MICF review: Will Anderson, Critically Wil

At the top of his game, Wil Anderson brings political smarts to bear with larrikin charm. Just don’t go all post-truth on him.

Like many Australians, The Gruen Transfer host and stand-up stalwart Will Anderson had a vaguely uneasy feeling about the American election on November 8 last year but had hoped for common sense to prevail.

On a flight to the States to perform and therefore untroubled by constant smartphone updates, he nevertheless realised deep inside that all was lost when the captain, who had made an announcement early saying he would keep passengers up to date with the results, proceeded to maintain radio silence for 12 hours. In the end, he succumbed and turned on before touch down.

Post-truth ‘reality’ is in for a mighty skewering as this savvy comic, deftly walking the line between easily relatable (and very funny) larrikin and fiercely outspoken activist, particularly when it comes to women’s and LGBTIQ rights. He’s also a no bullshit defender of common bloody sense. Anti-vaxxers best save the babysitter money and stay at home.

There’s an interesting call-back to his original career plan, journalism, that explains a lot about his meticulously researched show and a clearly switched-end mind that revels in political analysis, though Anderson grants this fall-back option has somewhat hit the skids in the 20-odd years since he defected to comedy.

Weaving cold hard facts with newfangled alternative type, his snort-inducingly hilarious encounters of the less-informed kind (no America, your health care system is not the best in the world) suggest that even when he’s spraying a serve, Anderson’s inimitably charisma suggests the targets might not know what’s hit them.

Subtler yet, Anderson’s interactions with front row punters and a bedazzling gaggle of boy band buff latecomers are effortlessly folded into the narrative. A smooth operator at the top of his game, he knows how to keep his hooting audience on their toes. Closing with a refreshing vulnerability that will also be familiar to his regulars, Anderson gifts plenty of skin, another reason his commanding yet cornball performance sucks you in.

As Anderson sinks three beers, all the while fidgeting with his mic and buttoning up and then unbuttoning his jacket, you get a sense of the real man behind the TV personality. Unlike so many politicians who say one thing but do another, chances are the real Wil, and the stuff he won’t share, is one and the same with the persona you get on stage – a great man with a good heart, zippy brain and thoroughly funny chat.

Stephen A Russell @SARussellwords


Book tickets to see Wil Anderson’s Critically Will at MICF here.