It’s surprising to think that the witty and charming Adam Hills was a quiet kid back at school and not a joker. He had a happy childhood and was on the school debate team but never won as he focused on jokes. Fresh from the UK, Adam played his first gig in Melbourne in over three years in what was described as an hour and ten minutes of ‘quirky and surprising anecdotes’ but turned out to be over two and a half hours of pure comedy.
From telling us about his road trip to Newcastle, NSW with Ross Nolan whose yellow long sleeve shirt and red shorts saw him mistaken for Ronald McDonald, to the McDonald’s staffs’ inability to understand what a veggie burger is, to Prince Philip saying Adam could snuggle something in his leg when flying out, the show gave a fantastic insight into Adam’s life.
What I really loved about Adam’s performance was that he’d start reading from his book before saying, “it’s just better if I tell you what happened in my own words’ (and yes, he did write the book). And the reason why I loved this was because it seemed like he was having a conversation with you. Although Adam is the first comedian I’ve seen live, I’ve seen countless videos online and Adam is the first I’ve found to be so interactive, where it feels like a, albeit one-sided, conversation. It felt effortless, natural, and easy, as if you actually know the guy.
There were moments of beautiful stand-up mixed within the ‘reading’. Adam accused a women, Lauren, of being late only to realise she had to move to see the sign language interpreter. Dubbed the nicest guy in comedy, he immediately apologised both verbally and in sign language before commenting how signing ‘sorry’ looked like you are scratching your face off in embarrassment.
It was not only the way he ‘read’ his book that made the performance so interactive but he actually interacted with the audience. He had a guy who was actually late re-introduce Adam to the stage and there was also a guy in a wheelchair wearing a #isitokay shirt. This guy stole the show. He told Adam that he and Alex were his disability idols and that he loves The Last Leg. Even in a conversation with Adam after the show Adam stressed this point: “but Josh doesn’t have a disability”. To which (sorry, Josh!) the guy in the wheelchair brilliantly replied: “not a physical one”. Hamer Hall erupted into applause and laughter.
There was some stuff that avid The Last Leg fans would have already seen: how the British sign language for ‘Australia’ looks like the British have just picked it up and thrown it away; the Pizza Hut advert; and the brilliant and infamous Johnny Vegas outtake. So, I was already familiar with some of these but the Australian audience wasn’t especially given that The Last Leg is aired Down Under way after the series is finished in the UK. But something I did find out was that the theme tune for The Last Leg is different in Australia because ABC can’t afford the rights to Public Enemy’s ‘Harder Than You Think’.
Of course, with the memoir entitled Best Foot Forward, Adam’s foot was of course mentioned. Richard Carter told him not to mention his foot when he first started stand-up as he wasn’t ‘good enough’. They’d have called him the ‘one foot guy’ so he put his Best Foot Forward. He also talked about an incident at Heathrow in 2001 involving his prosthetic leg setting off the metal detector. After security realised he has a prosthetic leg, they told him to just go through: “Don’t care if the plane goes down, I just don’t want to offend you”. Adam realised he needed to talk about his leg so people ask questions.
He ended the reading talking about his feet. In comedy Adam put his second best foot forward and it turned out to be his best foot. What makes you different makes you unique. But his left foot was getting jealous; it had kept him stable. He has a reliable left foot and a funny right foot. So, he hasn’t got a best foot. Instead, together they make a team. He has put his Best Feet Forward and worked tirelessly to get to where he is today: a fantastic comedian, an amazing and genuine person, and an inspiration for people both with and without disabilities.
On a personal note:
They say laughter is the best medicine. Every episode of The Last Leg that I watch I have the biggest smile on my face, my face hurts, and I’m creasing up with laughter. It’s the most I laugh and smile at any given time. I suffer from chronic health problems and subsequently invisible disabilities so to watch two disabled icons like Adam and Alex is inspiring (although if invisible disabilities were also discussed that would be amazing). And I also suffer from chronic depression. My year abroad in Australia didn’t have the smoothest start and it continued to drop from there (I won’t go into too much detail about it) but this meant that a lot of emotions regarding stuff I’d gone through resurfaced and I no longer accepted my health problems and this fuelled the depression. Yes, Josh isn’t disabled but he is essential to the comedy that lifts the demons away. For me The Last Leg is my medicine, my drug. I’d been without the show for eight weeks and I was struggling. So I knew I had to go watch Adam at Hamer Hall. And it worked. Laughter is my medicine. And because I can’t watch The Last Leg currently, whenever things feel like they might go downhill, I look at the picture I had taken with Adam and I say to myself ‘you met Adam Hills. You met Adam Hills’ and I think about how I felt at peace for the first time at eight weeks watching him perform and hold onto the feeling. So thank you. Thank you so so much.