Review: Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight

Wow. That’s all I can say.

Oh, and: why? Why have the ABC held off for so long on producing this gem of a show?

Has there ever been an Australian personality so ready-made for a talk-show than Adam Hills?

Affable, friendly and most importantly… funny.

And it couldn’t have a better home: 8:30 PM on a Wednesday night. A family-friendly timeslot which is usually home to a little show called Spicks and Specks.

It is also coming off the back of one of the worst debuts in Australian history- Ben Elton’s Live From Planet Earth premiered to reviews mostly slamming it as a turgid mess, which was only emphasised by its lacklustre rating of 455,000.

Anything would’ve been a relief. But this wasn’t just “anything”.

Hills single-handedly (see how I didn’t joke about his artificial foot) restored faith in not just Australian comedy, but Australian TV in general.

Yes, we have good shows- ie. Packed to the Rafters, Underbelly, Masterchef, but we’ve seen it all before, haven’t we?

And while the audience will know exactly what to expect from Hills- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing- we have on our hands not only a fresh, exciting new show, but a new format- or at least a new twist on an old one.

It fuses together many elements, but does the show allow Hills to fly into the stratosphere- a place many believe was his rightful and deserved one?

Well, for the sake of formality, let’s run through them.

First, there’s Hills’ laconic chat with his guests- an extended style of his usually more rapid-fire Spicks questions. The chat with Arj was funny- as to be expected. There was a reason that Arj was one of the only bright-spots of Planet Earth last night.

Not doing what you think he's doing


Then there was a mostly serious chat with Simon McKeon- not sure if it was the best opportunity to showcase Hills’ humour- McKeon chosen really because he is the man of the moment than anything else.

Bit of a change from the usual Talk Show mugs

However, the chat with Melissa George was the real test- and boy, did it succeed, with at least one YouTube moment that George will still blush about. That’s when the show evolved into everything everyone thought it would be, with off-the-cuff lines flying around and Gadsby spreading her wings.

Ross Noble’s chat was typically weird and as brilliant as always. Now there’s a Brit we can get to host a comedy program.

Then, there’s the side-kick, the Andy Richter, the Paul Schaffer: Hannah Gadsby. The perfect foil to Hills, though that goes without saying. Her humour is deadpan while his is sparky.

An obvious criticism is that there wasn’t enough of her in the first show, aside from a few hilarious facial expressions and the odd one-liner, though I’m sure that will change.

Yes, she actually has mannerisms. Say that for me slowly, Channel Nine, man-ner-i...

I’m confident that her inclusion will prove to be an absolute masterstroke- even if Hills isn’t for you, you simply can’t miss Gadsby.

Hannah Gadsby: "They've called themselves five guys and there's six of them."

In terms of being a talk-show, any show which allows the guests to hang around becomes instantly better. In fact, it was one of the elements which made Rove better when it relaunched in 2006.


Hopefully we’ll get a Julian Clary/Rex Mossop moment in the not too distant future.

Then there’s the audience interaction- something Andrew Denton proved could be genuinely interesting, sometimes audience members even upstaged celebrities on Enough Rope.

And of course Hills’ show “Mess Around” took it to new heights. And it would only work with a handful of comedians, too, as an overly aggressive comedian would alienate audience members and make home viewers squirm.

So basically if you like Hills, you’ll absolutely love this show.

One thing’s for sure; there is absolutely nothing wrong with this show. The first show was definitely funny and it was definitely entertaining. Did you expect it to be anything else?

But a talk-show is one of the hardest formats to pull off, so the fact that it seems like a show in its tenth season is really testament to Hills.

It isn’t often that we know a show will be good, and this definitely delivered. It didn’t necessarily exceed my expectations, but then again, they were fairly lofty to begin with.

It might not be as outrageous as Craig Ferguson, as smooth as Letterman or as cool as Conan, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s Hills at his best and he’s comfortable and charming.

People sometimes say that we shouldn’t go hard on Australian shows that aren’t funny; at least they’re employing Aussies… Right?

Well, sort of.

I believe that we need to give shows a fair go, but if they simply aren’t that funny, it represents a tendency to settle for less. And it isn’t truly indicative of what we are capable of as Australians.

This show is all that we are capable of… And then some. It not only showcases one of our greatest talents, but exhibits everyday Australians as laid-back, funny people with great stories to tell.

Stuff Oprah*, this would be the best advert for Australia. And if not that, jus a damn entertaining show for British telly (Neighbours-style).

Simply put, we needed this show a long, long time ago. It won’t be must-see viewing for everyone as Hills’ comedy isn’t exactly explosive drop-everything-laugh-a-lung-up humour, but no other show can guarantee such a consistently friendly and most importantly, funny show week-in, week-out.

*Sorry Oprah, nothing against you. Please don’t smite me.


Posted on February 9, 2011, in TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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