Andrew Hansen, ‘the good one from The Chaser’, is about to take his Andrew Hansen is Cheap gig on tour. Just finishing up his MICF stint, 2023 Adelaide Fringe Winner, Hansen, talks show, comedy, music and more.
– How would you describe this show to someone who knows very little about it
Andrew Hansen is Cheap is about how to save money in this expensive world of ours. It’s a fast, slick one-man comedy show full of songs and sketches and standup. It’s written and performed by me, the good one from the comedy group The Chaser. And it won an award for Best Comedy at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival, though don’t let that put you off.
– What makes it stand out and why should people see it
This is a show about the times we’re living in right now, so if you don’t see it you’ll really stuff up your year. I put proper entertainment value into my shows too, with guitar and piano and backing tracks and sound effects and props, and in this one I play many different characters ranging from a cranky barista to a struggling dad to toddlers having tantrums to Hitler to the entire cast of Winnie the Pooh and Star Wars. If you’ve missed the frenetic silliness and satirical oomph of The Chaser’s TV shows, someone from those shows is doing the same kind of nonsense live on stage right now, and that’s me. So you’re in for a nice time. (Is that convincing enough?)
– How long was the process from idea to writing to stage – Any challenges along the way
My manager told me at the end of my last tour that I should immediately write a new one and try it out at Melbourne Fringe Festival. Trembling, I obeyed. It was mid-2022 and the news was starting to run stories about rising prices, so I thought: There’s the theme. ‘Surviving in a world of skyrocketing prices.’ I spent a few months gathering ideas, honing them into sketches and songs, and recording backing tracks and dialogue as lots of different characters so I could interact with myself on stage. I trigger all my own audio cues from the stage, actually, using a phone attached to my microphone stand. It’s an interesting way of performing and gives the show a DIY vibe which helps the fun of the whole thing. Anyway, I tested the show out three times in a tiny room at Melbourne Fringe and was relieved to find the audiences didn’t hate it. In fact they even seemed to love it! And so a national tour was booked.
But yes, things have gone wrong sometimes, especially because of all the music and audio tech in the show. Early in the tour, I arrived in Adelaide only to discover that my iPad, guitar AND piano stand had all broken during the flight. I’m sure the baggage handlers took the utmost care and it was merely pre-existing structural defects that broke all three of those items during the same flight. Couldn’t possibly have been the baggage handlers.
– What attracts you to comedy and how long have you been involved
I started dabbling in comedy in late primary school but stumbled into professional comedy by accident. After doing some student theatre, I was asked by the TV director and producer Maurice Murphy to be in a writers’ room for a sketch comedy pilot. It was being made for Ten back in the 1990s, and I was hopelessly young and green. The pilot was pretty awful and deservedly rejected. A few years later, I joined The Chaser’s TV team simply because the others asked me to and I had nothing else on at the time. So I was a ditherer and a wanderer, not an ambitious comic. However, in the last 6 years or so, I’ve been extremely focussed and it’s been my most prolific period. I co-wrote a 4-book fantasy series for young readers and narrated it as audiobooks (Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies), presented a daily radio show for two and a half years on Triple M, presented several holiday seasons of radio for ABC, acted in a play, podcasted a bit, composed and co-wrote and produced a musical comedy TV series – which is yet to be released – and mounted three national tours of solo comedy shows.
– When did your musical interest begin and when did you decide that comedy and music are a good fit
As a kid, I learned classical piano, violin and viola as well as music theory, all outside school hours. But I didn’t really get into music till later when I discovered 1960s and 70s rock, which I loved much more than the music of my own generation. Using music as part of comedy came fairly naturally, I never specifically decided to do it. It just seemed nice as a way of changing up the texture of shows every so often. I like to limit the use of musical comedy in my shows, though, because it can sometimes come across as naff and fruity and nerdy. So only a small percentage of my stage time is taken up with songs, just enough to oil the wheels. In fact, I like to perform songs with an attitude that shows I’m taking the piss out of musical comedy itself. I think the other Chaser guys all feel the same way about it – a handy tool but to be used sparingly.
– Who would you say have been your biggest inspirations
My wife, Jessica Roberts, is a writer and artist and a big creative inspiration for me. Luckily we share similar senses of humour and I often run ideas past Jess. Growing up, I had several heroes of comedy writing and performing. Nearly all of them were UK things like The Goodies, Monty Python, The Young Ones, Blackadder, The New Statesman, Kenny Everett, Billy Connolly, and from Australia, Kevin Bloody Wilson. In high school, I had a dear friend, David Bathur, who was an inspiration too. He was one of those extremely funny people you encounter – impossibly, wonderfully funny – but who don’t actually become comedians and as a result, you feel the world has missed out on a treat. We lost David last year.
As an adult, though, I strive not to be influenced. I even steer clear of watching other comics or comedy TV shows as I don’t want to pick up other artists’ schtick or characteristics. It’s crucial to be unique. Otherwise why would anyone check out your shows? Of course, we all borrow bits and bobs from artists who’ve inspired us, but the trick is to hide those inside the cake.
– What are three things that would surprise people to learn about you
- I’m not really into topical comedy or ‘satire’. Yes, I’ve made some topical comedy over the years and The Chaser is known for that but it’s not really my cup of tea. I much prefer light, silly stuff about characters, stories and situations, with just the tiniest morsel of smart, satirical meat on the bones every so often to make it meaningful and satisfying. The Chaser is also known for that style of comedy, especially from our TV show War On Everything, and that’s the area of comedy that gets me excited.
- I’m non-confrontational. Despite some of my comedy involving pranks in public places, I’m uncomfortable in those situations. That’s partly why I find those situations so funny – I think comedy is appealing when you see people doing the opposite of what you’re comfortable with.
- I’m very interested in libraries, archives and the information professions. Or is that not surprising? Perhaps it would be more surprising if I were into kickboxing. But I’m not.
– What comes after the MICF and touring for you
Aside from a lot of dadding, I suspect my manager will frighten me into writing a brand new live show to tour in 2024. And I’m always working on new concepts for screen and stage and audio and print, either solo or with other writers. There might be a new book for young readers on the way, too – not about mummified animals, though. This time, something strange.
In an expensive world, Andrew Hansen is Cheap.
This brand-new hour of affordable musical numbers and reasonably priced sketches is a thrifty antidote to the rising cost of absolutely everything else. Let Andrew teach you how to be cheap, for a modest fee.
Perth May 5
Brisbane May 12
Sydney May 17 – 21