If there’s one thing at which Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen excel, it’s satire.
So it’s exciting to learn that the comedic duo, best known for writing and performing on ABC TV’s The Chasers War on Everything, will be taking the stage this week to show off some of that top form.
For three nights only, Taylor and Hansen will perform In Conversation with Lionel Corn for Sydney audiences. Following a successful season at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April, Victoria’s northern neighbours get the opportunity to experience the pair’s latest outing, described as an unsparing send-up of every earnest celebrity writer Q&A event you’ve ever had to sit through!
Theatre People had the privilege of catching up with Hansen to discuss the show on the eve of its Sydney debut. On the subject of the show’s origins, Hansen says, “It was Chris’ idea initially because he’s a much artier person than me.”
Talking about the Q&A events that served as the inspiration for the show, he says, “As live events, they’re really popular. It’s a new form of entertainment. People are just as interested in how books get written and movies get made as they are in the books and movies themselves.
“When we started writing the show, I was looking up lots of videos on YouTube,” he told us. One particular Q&A Hansen came across stood out from the rest, involving Canadian actor and musician, Michael Cera. “Somebody in the audience actually asked, ‘How do you remember your lines?’ He did quite well in answering…[but] surely, members of the audience were thinking, ‘I’ve paid $50 to see this. I don’t want to hear how he remembers his lines!’”
Expect a healthy share of those annoying audience questions to pop up during this week’s shows, alongside the fawning introductions (and even temperamental microphones) that typically characterise the staged chats to which the pair pay homage. On stage, Hansen is title character, Lionel Corn, a famously prickly genius who’ll be reminiscing about his life work. “He’s part Stephen Fry,” Hansen says of Corn, adding, “There’s a lot of George RR Martin in him.”
Taylor is the host/moderator of the discussion. Hansen describes him as a “struggling, low-profile radio host”, whose only claim to fame is having authored the biography of a former leader of the now-defunct Australian Democrats. It’s easy to see that his ineptitude as moderator will be enormously amusing in itself!
Despite the fact the show arrives from the south having chalked up a slew of great reviews, Sydney audiences may be in for an even more riotous evening than their Melbourne counterparts. “One of the joys of doing a live show is that you get to fix it,” says Hansen. “On TV, you get one chance. You can’t go back and re-do bits that everybody thought was really crap.
“One of the things I love about theatre is that you can fix it up. We’ve used the poor people of Melbourne to achieve that.”
But it’s not all smiles for Hansen, as he brings Corn back to life on stage. “The downside is I have to grow a moustache for each run,” he confides to Theatre People.
Beyond the strictly limited Sydney season, the show will continue its journey north to Byron Bay and then head on to Brisbane. In Conversation with Lionel Corn marks Taylor and Hansen’s fourth collaboration as a duo. “We’ve always been keen on parody and piss-take,” Hansen says. And looking ahead, the twosome has further collaborations on the horizon. “There’s always lots in the pipeline…Chris and I are thinking of doing a much more musical show. We’re turning our minds towards a very musical-type live show,” he shared. He also indicated Chaser fans can expect to see a second season of The Chaser’s Media Circus on ABC TV later this year.
And other than that? “I’ll just probably spend time sitting around,” he says.
So if you’re not already clutching a ticket and anxiously awaiting an audience with Lionel Corn, what did Hansen have to say when asked why Sydney-siders must get themselves to one of this week’s shows?
“I’m going to be absolutely honest with you because I’ve been trying to buy a home recently, and honesty is at a premium in Sydney.
“It’s entirely up to you. If you want to be entertained for an hour, you can come down and see our show. If you don’t, you’re absolutely free to do something else!”
Those keen for a dose of Taylor and Hansen’s bold brand of satirical entertainment can check out all the details below.
Venue: Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street, Redfern
Dates and times: Wed 8 Jul, Thu 9 Jul and Fri 10 Jul, 8pm