Published on March 6th, 2015 | by admin
Andrew Hansen Interview (In Conversation with Lionel Corn) … including George R. R. Martin!
Welcome to Impulse Gamer Andrew and how’s your day so far?
It’s been great! I’ve got to hang out in Melbourne today and chat to interesting people so it’s been the perfect day!
So you’re performing at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival soon, so can you tell us what your new show, In Conversation with Lionel Corn is all about?
This is a new live comedy show that I’m doing with Chris Taylor and it’s a parody show of this new kind of entertainment that exists and is immensely popular at the moment. It’s these Q&A events, especially in Australia where we get these visiting geniuses who come here, sit on stage and get interviewed by a moderator about their work.
People like Vince Gilligan from Breaking Bad or George R. R. Martin, the Game of Thrones writer or even cast members from Firefly and Doctor Who come to these nerd conventions and audiences flock in their thousands to hear these people just get asked about their work.
We thought this was a strange new entertainment that seemed right for a parody and a comedy show that’s based on it. So we’ve come up with this freewheeling, very silly, slightly musical show based around that scenario and Lionel Corn is a fictitious genius who I’ll be playing on stage with Chris playing the interviewer. All sorts of madness will ensue!
Can you dissect for us what makes Lionel tick?
He’s a kind of composite of all these celebrities put together. He’s a bit of a renaissance figure and those irritating people who are good at everything. You know, like Stephen Fry who’s written a novel, can act and he’s got six degrees. He’s opinionated and hosts all these TV shows, so Lionel is kind of that character.
These celebrities are almost like religious leaders and people go in the hope of finding out what makes them tick and where their genius comes from. The funny thing about these shows is that the audience tend to ask their own questions which is very amusing and inane like how do you remember your lines or where do you get your ideas from. We take this to another level.
Will there be much audience participation?
There will be a little bit where you can field your questions and then on top of that we will have cameos from other comedians at the Melbourne Comedy Festival with different ones every night asking ridiculous question. So who knows, some of them might hijack the entire show and I’m kind of hoping they will and we might get someone like Sam Simmons to participant… not that we’ve ask Sam yet so Sam if you’re reading this ,do you want to come in and ask a question? <Laugh>
Both you and The Chasers have loved targeting politicians who are rich in comedic value so will there be any jokes about our Prime Minster Tony Abbott?
Not in this show probably and I know that with The Chasers we got a reputation doing a lot of political and topical commentary and it’s possible we might throw in a couple of jokes to please people who are after that. But it’s not really that kind of show and Chris and I are not even secretly interested in that which is weird, given that we have a track record for doing that sort of comedy. So this show is all about the absurdity, fun, nonsense, silly wigs and moustaches.
With Lionel, has he got like a trademarked appearance or uniform like George R. R. Martin and his little captain’s hat?
<Laugh> He’ll be dressed in a somewhat distinct manner as we’re running through all sorts of options on what he is going to look like at the moment. I mean with George R. R. Martin who’s wonderful, you couldn’t have styled him better if you tried and I think he just came up with that look himself didn’t he? So yeah, he’s invented his own look which is such a good look and a Hollywood costume designer would be jealous of him I reckon <laugh>. He’s come up with such an amazing character for himself.
So what’s it like working with Chris on stage opposed to TV?
It’s great but he makes me laugh a lot though. The difficulty I have performing with Chris is that more than any other person I’ve worked with, he just makes me laugh when I look at his silly face. I mean he’s just got this appalling face to look at that makes me laugh and it makes it very difficult as a performer on stage as I’m trying to stop doing that.
He’s also a naturally funny guy and I think that Chris is the best and most prolific writer in the group so he’s this fountain of ideas so it’s very fun to spend time with him. You also have to watch him to as he’s a very gluttonous person as you got to drag him away from 3 hatted restaurants to get him to work because he’s always there sampling wine lists when you need him to be working on the show.
<Laugh> So how would Chris take that?
I would say here’s your description now fix it!
You said there will be some musical numbers in the show, can you elaborate on this angle?
There will be silly songs! Chris and I are the main song writers in The Chasers so the projects that we’ve done together have been quite musical. In fact we done another show a while ago which was a parody of Julius Caesar. So with our new show which is this kind of absurd environment, it is entirely possible that we may hear Lionel answer one of the questions in the form of song in which case he might leap onto a guitar and bang one out.
Did you guys do any research or go to any of the conventions in Australia like Oz-Comic Con or Supanova to help with Lionel?
That stuff is all over YouTube and it’s really a new genre on its own so there’s an enormous amount of material out there that we can draw from. It’s quite interesting because we had reality TV which was a genre that got invented a few years back and I think these kind of events, the Q&A’s are like that as they are a new form of entertainment.
So to your question, I have been to a few nerdy fan conventions, I love them and I enjoy going to them. Although I haven’t dressed up to go to one yet or done the cosplay thing yet. I haven’t been quite able to lower my dignity threshold that far but who knows, I may one day turn up dressed as Cyberman.
What are your thoughts on the people who sometimes spend hundreds of dollars to meet these people for dinners or have their photos taken with them?
If that’s want audiences want and if they’re happy to pay, good for them. If you want to pay $500 to listen to some author rabbit on about their thought processes up close and personal, that’s your business. I wonder if it’s driven by a fascination about writing and film making because everybody is doing it now. We’re in a position where everybody is running a blog or making their own YouTube videos. People are interested because there’s this educational aspect to these things so people are hoping to find the secret or the answers to how it’s done. There’s also a big form of hero worship to celebrities and for some people, it’s a way to earn a crust when not as many people are buying their books or DVD’s anymore. For artists, your venue has to come from performing live these days so it could be driven by a need to pay your bus fare home.
That’s right Andrew, quite a few actors from sci-fi series like Battlestar Galactica or Stargate often tour Australia.
Yeah, for some of these people it’s almost like a full-time job and if you were in an old sci-fi show, you wouldn’t need any more acting work as you could constantly tour all these conventions around the world <laugh> and that’s your living. I would like to be cast in a sci-fi show <laugh> that would be a great life!
So tell us how Lionel went from thought to “live” person… what was the process?
It was mostly locking ourselves in a theatre and at the moment, we had this rehearsal space quite handy because we’re running the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Sydney. Nothing’s on there during the day so every day we lock ourselves in and try to make the things amuse ourselves to start with and then the next part or the frighting part is trying it out in front of small audiences which is a weird gruelling thing that all comics do to get their show into shape. You then have to show a preview version of it to see what they think. You’re often surprised what people find amusing because they might laugh at things you thought were not funny and then things that we thought were hilarious will bomb completely when we put them in front of real people <laugh>.
When something bombs, how do you move on?
You can just move on but it depends on the moment. If you think of anything to say, you can rescue it and some comedians are really good at that but I’m not marvellous at being charming, warm or likeable <laugh>. I much more a prickly dark performer, so for me, when something bombs, I just move on… you know nothing to see here folks, just move along, move along.
So what are you guys looking most forward to the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival??
I can’t wait to see the shows because it’s such a great atmosphere and it’s almost unique in Australia as only Adelaide and Melbourne have a festival where all the shows are next to each other and you can just go out at night. It’s not even necessary knowing what you want to see as you can just walk around and see what’s on, so it’s real treat.
There’s all this wonderful entertainment on tap and this doesn’t happen really anywhere. I mean you don’t get that in Sydney, Brisbane, or Perth… so for me, it’s the experience of being at the festival. Also, it’s the first time I’ve ever done the Melbourne Festival as a performer which seems weird being a comedian in Australia and it didn’t feel right not to have done it <laugh>. So Chris and I thought geez, it’s about time we actually did it!
<Laugh> Indeed we are!
Growing up what were some of the comedians that inspired you?
I loved English comedy shows when I was a tiny kid because they were the only ones that we could see for a lot of the time and they were on ABC. The ABC use to play Faulty Towers, The Goodies which I fell deeply in love with and then I discovered Monty Python when my oldest sister introduced it to me almost like a naughty thing. It was like introducing someone to cigarettes so it was python that she showed me. I watched these things over and over again on endless repeats and then the Young Ones came along and I adored that and a few years later, it was Black Adder, then the first few series of The Simpsons once I got a bit older. So they were some of the influences on me.
You also worked with two of the comedic legends from The Goodies, Tim Brook-Taylor and Graeme Gardner, what was that like?
It was great fun! They are kind of old school English people who are immensely lovely to be in their company and they have a way about them and a gentleness. They are very imaginative guys and they love what they do because they’re still doing it in their 70’s. It’s quite inspiring to think that you can do comedy for that long. I mean a lot of people see it as a young person’s game but they’ve shown us that’s not necessary the case. I’ve always loved that kind of childlike manic spirits that those guys have brought to their work. There’s a boundless imagination there and a real sense of fun.
So will you and Chris be doing stand-up or TV when you’re still in your 70’s?
<Laugh> I’d like to be but I’ll be amazed if Chris survives into his 70’s given his diet. I mean if you saw the things he eats… my god… I don’t think you can have that much butter and what else these people eat at these restaurants. How many finger food stations can you have … whereas I try to keep somewhat healthy <laugh>. Maybe in the Melbourne Festival of 2050, I might be happy to do solo shows rather than a two hander or I might prop up a fat corpse of Chris Taylor on stage. You know the freakishly enormous large skeleton of Chris Taylor on stage next to me… that might be a possibility.
One more question Andrew and I know that you’ve co-hosted Good Game in the past with “Bajo” and reviewed some weird games. So I’m guessing that you’re a gamer at heart?
I love it and its almost an addiction I have that I need to supress! Since I was a tiny kid, I’ve been fascinated by video games. So ever since I first discovered them on a computer called the TSR80 which had one of those games which were just ASCII characters moving around the screen, I was hypnotised by it. So yeah, I’m currently badly addicted to Hyrule Warriors so if the Melbourne show is not as good as it should be, please blame Hyrule Warriors because it’s using up too much of my time. <laugh>
Thanks for your time Andrew and all the best for In Conversation with Lionel Corn at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival!
Cheers and a pleasure for the chat!
For more information on Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor’s new show, please visit http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/in-conversation-with-lionel-corn-chris-taylor-andrew-hansen
Follow Andrew Hansen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewjhansen
In Conversational With Lionel Corn
Dates: 07 April to 19 April 2015
Venue: Forum Theatre (Downstairs)
Pricing: $30 – $34