Culture

We Played ‘Would You Rather’ With The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen (And Talked About His New Comedy Show, Too)

Giant head or tiny head? Difficult question.

If you’ve seen The Chaser, you know that at the heart of all they do lies satire. Whether it’s The War on Everything poking fun at John Howard or CNNNN broadcasting an ad for cheese-stuffed cheese pizza crust with free cheesy cola on the side to suggest that pizzas could perhaps do with less cheese, the Chaser guys have been taking digs at pretty much everyone and everything for over a decade.

Now Andrew Hansen has turned his attention towards the booming celebrity Q&A genre by teaming up with fellow Chaser Chris Taylor in an upcoming show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Called In Conversation With Lionel Corn, Hansen explains: “[it’s] Chris Taylor and me doing a parody of those awful celebrity Q&A events that have become inexplicably popular nowadays. They sit on stage for an hour and talk to a daggy moderator, then even worse, they then throw it open to the audience to ask questions — which we’ll be doing as well.”

Taylor will be filling the role of “daggy moderator” while Hansen will be playing Lionel Corn, who is “a combination of all sorts of geniuses. He’s one of those multitalented Renaissance people who’ve done everything; they’ve written a novel, they’ve acted in movies, and for some reason they’ve released an album. They’re also enormously educated — they’ve got honorary degrees, these people. He’s that kind of character and very silly.”

Before our interview, Hansen requested that he be treated the same way female celebrities usually are — to be asked about their wardrobe instead of their work. When asked what he will be wearing when playing Corn, Hansen laughs and explains: “There will be a very silly moustache involved, I’m hoping. I think most of the effort in making this show is in locating the exact right moustache, and if we can’t get the right one then it might have to be a different type of facial hair. Chopin was said to have performed with half a beard. I hope that’s true, but I bet you it’s not; any good story is never true, is it?”

Hansen says Lionel Corn is more heavily weighted towards his interests than a lot of previous projects. “The show will give Chris and me a chance to indulge our absurdist side, which is more our thing than the other Chaser guys. The other three are into politics and media analysis and that kind of stuff. Chris and I are into silly voices and characters and moustaches and songs, so [it’s] that kind of show.”

Now that the Chaser are onscreen with less regularity, is the “satire gap” being filled like it used to be? “I don’t think too many comedians [in Australia] are doing it in the way we’ve done it in shows like The Hamster Wheel or Media Circus where we’ve done this forensic analysis of media and actually used real clips to make comedy out of,” Hansen says.

“But the topical satire basket is being filled brilliantly by Mad as Hell for example; a lot of people are doing it in podcasts…and a lot of comics flex their topical muscles on Twitter. I think also just the general population does it too, on social media. It’s almost like crowd-sourced satire – it’s very hard to get ahead of it. It’s one of the reasons our recent TV stuff that we’ve gone in to longer form analytical pieces because one off gags and one liners –  you get beaten to them. Everyone makes the jokes on Twitter before you can do it on TV anyway.”

The urge to tap into The Chaser’s War on Everything and ask Hansen ten consecutive questions is a hard one to quash. Instead, I compromised and asked him three (slightly) relevant “Would You Rather…?” questions.

JUNKEE: Would you rather have a head half the size or twice the size of normal?

“Well my head IS twice the size of a normal head and I can tell you, it’s very annoying. It’s very irritating, particularly if you work with Craig Reucassel who teases you constantly about having an extremely scrawny body and a disproportionately large head. It can give you all sorts of back problems and neck problems – so I would go for the smaller head. If only.”

Would you rather spend the rest of your life in a musical or speaking like the Surprise Spruiker?

[Laughs] “That’s a great question. In a way I’d quite like to live permanently as the Surprise Spruiker just because that would be so irritating to everybody else and I’d gain a certain pleasure in how annoyed everybody would be that I was telling them to be home by midnight. He had all these catchphrases that would become immensely irritating to people, and as someone who doesn’t like catchphrases myself, that was a weird thing about the Spruiker – we gave him catchphrases even though none of us in The Chaser like catchphrases. But we sort of found our hatred of catchphrases made it even more enjoyable to load him up with them because we knew how dreadful and lame they were. There was a knowing lameness about that character. So I would probably go for the Spruiker. If you were in a musical, aww, you’d have to get your heart  broken a lot, you’d have all sorts of troubles. There’d be gang warfare; musicals always involve warring families and gangs, and I think that would be a sad life. “

Would you rather, without being able to explain why, spend half an hour of every day having to put on a hamster outfit and running in a human sized hamster wheel, no matter where you are OR every time you have a drink you have to have it from a sippy cup?

“The sippy cup is the way for me. I love ease, and a sippy cup is easier to drink out of than any other kind of cup. And I’m not easily embarrassed. I don’t like conflict, but embarrassment doesn’t bother me too much. So the sippy cup sounds a lot easier to me than running in a wheel – that sounds hot and that hamster suit sounds prickly. It might make me sneeze. That sounds like a terrible option; I can’t believe it’s an either or option.”

In Conversation with Lionel Corn is running from April 8-19 at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Elizabeth is the editor of Voiceworks, and has been published in Film Ink, Metro, The Punch, and Lip Magazine. She tweets terrible puns@ElizabethFlux.