Wil Anderson week: Unemployed stand-up on return to TV and future plans

Gruen

• Radio no longer on Anderson’s radar, comedy and podcasting the focus

One change to Gruen when it returns to ABC TV next week is that this year is that panellist Russel Howcroft has a breakfast radio show and host Wil Anderson doesn’t. After co-hosting triple j breakfast with Adam Spencer two decades ago, Anderson has been a radio regular with subsequent hosting role on Triple M drive with Lehmo and then at Melbourne’s Triple M breakfast, replacing Mick Molloy and sitting alongside Eddie McGuire and Luke Darcy. Anderson stepped away from Triple M at the end of 2019.

Howcroft is now the co-host of 3AW breakfast alongside Ross Stevenson.

Did the former member of The Hot Breakfast team step away from radio too soon?

“Was it bad timing? Clearly it was terrible timing,” Anderson told Mediaweek.

“I have joked to people about this. The secret of comedy is timing and this wasn’t the greatest timing to step away from a regular media job to spend the entire year touring live stand-up comedy. Comedy was the first thing that went [during Covid] and will be the last thing to come back.

“In my plans I am really looking at 2022 is the most likely year we will get back to doing what it was I thought I was going to be doing all this year.”

Anderson thinks it was the right decision though. “I would have found it incredibly difficult to be locked down in Melbourne and then to be living the drama of that city every morning. As a human being with the thing that I loved the most taken away and then to have to get up every morning and be right in the middle of confronting everything that was going on in the world would have been a tough thing to do mentally and emotionally.

“I have also joked about that at the age of 46 I have finally become what my parents have worried about for the last 25 years – an unemployed stand-up comedian. There has not been a time since I started at triple j over 20 years ago that I have had a substantial period of time off.

It took a global pandemic for me to miss my first year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. To have these things taken away really challenges you to think about what is super important to you. It has given me some real time to work on the podcasts.

“The financial reward of the radio would have come with a huge emotional and physical cost as well. The not-so financial reward of the podcast certainly doesn’t help you pay the mortgage, but it has been like a gift.

I loved doing the radio – it was fun and I don’t regret the time I spent doing it. Going back to Melbourne was something I had been thinking about for 20 years. I love broadcasting, but I had been wanting to see if there was a way of making podcasting be more financial so I could just do that and not have to work on someone else’s project.

“This year has been a bit of a test of that.”

As to whether Anderson had been offered any other radio work, he answered it this way. “I am not looking for any other jobs. When I left the radio, and I did not say it at the time, I felt it was something I would never do again.”

Anderson admitted even before he took The Hot Breakfast job he didn’t think radio would be something he would do again. “However, an interesting opportunity came along and I had two-and-a-half years of it. It would really surprise me if I ever put my hand up anything else again. But never say never about anything, but it is certainly not what I am looking to do.”

Wil Anderson week

Wednesday: A week before the launch of Gruen 2020, Anderson previews one of ABC’s most popular shows
Thursday: In Podcast Week, Anderson reviews his podcast plans, business model and the Tofop superhub!

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