Comedian Wil Anderson knows a thing or two about getting an audience revved up for his stand-up shows, but when it comes to the studio audience of ABC’s Question Everything, it’s a whole other ballgame.
Speaking to Mediaweek during the run of his highly successful series, Anderson revealed a few behind-the-scenes secrets or “quirks”, as he calls them, that he’s picked up during his more than two decades on-screen.
“Like many things over the years, you pick things up as being your little quirks,” he said. “I went and saw David Letterman do his show in New York and it was freezing cold in the studio and when I read about it later, he said he always liked the studio audience to be cold because, he joked, it ‘keeps the jokes fresh’. But what he really meant was that hopefully once they start applauding and cheering and the show starts going and the lights [go on] and all that sort of stuff, it all warms up.”
According to Anderson, when a studio audience goes into a comfy studio, “everyone gets a bit sleepy in the audience”.
“Whereas if it’s cold when you go in and then they warm up, it only just gets to a natural temperature and they don’t suddenly get slow and sleepy and quiet,” he said before adding: “During rehearsals, during the day, our crew will come in like they’re Dan Andrews doing a COVID conference in a North Face jumper.” HA!
How Wil Anderson warms up a crowd for TV
Further to this, comedian Rebecca De Unamuno serves as a warm-up for the crowd; however, only hypes them up “to a certain point”.
“Because our show is also a comedy show or like on Gruen and it’s not a comedy show but I am going to be doing comedy in it, I like to have a warm-up to a certain point,” he said. “And then I’ll come and do an extra sort of warm-up. They’ll introduce me, I’ll talk to the audience a bit, I’ll warm it up.”
He continued: “I think it’s just my stand-up background more than anything. I like to get out there at first and sort of get the rhythm and talk to the audience a bit and just kind of find my feet before we actually start the show.”
As the host and executive producer of Question Everything, Anderson uses an aviation analogy to share how he makes it all work — adamant that it is a team effort.
“I always think of my role as being the pilot of the plane,” he said. “In that, the plane doesn’t take off unless every single other person has done their job properly and so that period of time in between the warm-up and the show starts is the captain’s announcement. It’s me saying ‘It’s okay. Don’t worry. Sit back, relax and enjoy yourself, I got this, I know what I’m doing.
“Even in moments where it feels like things are a little out of control, you can enjoy that. Because you know that it’s not actually it’s controlled chaos, it’s not out of control.”
Question Everything is about giving insight into the next generation of Australian comedy
In Question Everything, Anderson, co-host Jan Fran and some of Australia’s best and brightest comedians dissect the news to give you the clues to unpack the news, miss all the misinformation, and stay informed… not alarmed.
At the time of publication, QE only has two more episodes of its latest season to go; however, the premise remains the same — giving people “an insight into the next generation of Australian comedy”.
During the rehearsal period, Anderson and his co-host Jan Fran do a series of afternoon shows, bringing in a separate panel with emerging comedians.
“It’s some people who have been around for a while but aren’t household names in the way that we think they deserve to be or people that were emerging through the scene,” he said. “We get them to play the show, and get younger and newer comedians to come in, sit on the set, give them TV studio experience.
“It’s not just the TV show, but it’s an entire production that is dedicated to the idea that the success of this show, hopefully, is that we make a really funny show about the misinformation and disinformation. A comedy show that people can enjoy.”
He added: “But it also gives people that opportunity to sit in the studio for the first time and see what the cameras look like for the first time. And that might not reward us in that they will do our show but in a year from now, or two years from now, when they’re doing someone else’s show — and they do better on that show — it’s because it’s not their first day in the studio or they haven’t had that experience.”
Stream Question Everything now and catch the final two episodes on Wednesdays at 8.30 pm on ABC iView and ABC TV.