By Chris Mason
Wil Anderson is well-known to Australian audiences for his work as the host of The Gruen Transfer and The Glass House, and is a veteran of Aussie TV and radio. His first love is stand-up, however, and for the past couple of years Anderson has been spending the majority of his time performing it in the United States.
Anderson is back in Australia and is bringing his Wiluminati show to the Perth Convention Centre this weekend. I spoke to Wil in the lead-up to these shows about life in the US, touring and his approach to food on the road.
You've spent quite lot of time in the US recently. Are you back in Australia for an extended period?
This is a flying trip. Sunday I was in Dallas, then LA, then back in Sydney on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had a show in Darwin, three shows in Perth this weekend, Kalgoorlie on Sunday, Sydney Mon to Wed, and then four shows in Melbourne Thurs to Sunday and then back to LA on Monday (I have a show in LA on Monday night) and then Philly the next day. With this schedule even my jet-lag has jet-lag, and my brain is constantly in airplane mode.
What are some of the aspects about life in the US that have taken you by surprise?
How big the Outback Steakhouse is. They have this thing called the Bloomin' Onion they think all Australians eat. It's a deep-fried onion served with a dipping sauce. That's not a meal, that’s a chemical weapon.
You tour a lot. Do you find it difficult to eat regularly and well?
This is my twentieth year of touring so you tend to get in a pattern. I think I could do a guide on which lounges have the best free food, and which ones you need to eat beforehand. I am a vegetarian which is fine in some parts of the US, and in others your only choice is a Bloomin' Onion. Edinburgh is the worst. I survived 10 days there this year on nothing but beer and chip butties, which is essentially a hot chip sandwich with butter.
What are some of the differences between eating out at restaurants in the US compared to Australia?
Service is the big one. Because Americans work for tips the service is always better. Sometimes too much. I have often been asked how I am enjoying the meal before I have time to take a bite. "Well I guess the way you put it down was nice!" Also you can substitute pretty much anything on a US menu whereas in Australia if you do that in some restaurants it's just a guarantee the chef will put his balls in your food.
Is there a kind or style of food that you find yourself particularly drawn to at the moment?
There is a restaurant I love in LA which is a fine-dining vegan place called Crossroads. It's the sort of place you could take a meat eater to and they wouldn't know they were eating vegan food. (Although that might also be because of the strength of their excellent cocktails.) If Peter Siddle is ever reading this and is in LA, I am happy to shout him dinner there as long as he promises not to fill up on bananas beforehand.
Any memorable food experiences in Perth?
Sadly I don't get to eat out in Perth as much as I would like as when I am in town I am normally doing shows at dinner time... but I have had a lot of great breakfasts here. There is nothing like a breakfast at the beach with a Bloody Mary.
You're touring your Wiluminati show here in Perth but you start performing your new show very soon in the lead-up to the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Is it usual for you to have such a narrow gap in between shows?
This year is the narrowest gap I have ever had. The final night of Wiluminati is January 19 at the Sydney Opera House and my new show Free Wil starts March 1 in Adelaide... but this is also the first year I have had in the last 15 that has been completely dedicated to stand-up, so I actually have a bunch of ideas stored up that I am looking forward to exploring. I can sleep when I am dead, which at this rate will be sometime in July.
In your 2013 GoodWil show you mentioned you hadn't had such a good year. Has this one been better for you?
I can genuinely say it's been the best year of my life. It's a rare gift to be able to focus your energy 100% on something you love, and I know how lucky I am to be able to say that.
For Wil Anderson's tour dates and ticket information please click here.