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Undergraduate: an interview with Andrew Hansen

Words by Michelle See-Tho

If you’ve recently booked tickets to a comedy show called One Man Show, you might be surprised when the show begins. Believe it or not, there are actually two men in it.

The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor are putting their Monty Python-influenced heads together for the performance. Andrew tells me he had to slap the title on before they’d even written the show. They just wanted a vague title. And they’ve succeeded.

“It’s a show that indulges my taste and Chris’s taste for a sort of old school British style of silliness,” he tells me. “We play a lot of different characters in the show and dress up in a lot of different outfits and there’s a bunch of songs.”

He also mentions that The Athenaeum Theatre, where the show will take place, has a trapdoor in the stage. “I’m wondering if we can work some way of using it into our show. I would love to see Chris fall through a trapdoor.”

I ask him about the press release, which says the show is aimed at the “43 to 43-and-a-half year old market”.

“If you pitch a show to a TV network, one of the only questions they’ll ask you is”—he puts on a blokey voice, like a TV exec—“‘So, who’s the demographic, who’s the target audience? Is it for 17 to 23 year olds? Because if so, we’re not interested. We want stuff for 24 to 26 year olds.’”

Andrew says he finds that kind of language  funny, because it’s not the way most consumers think about television. “You don’t hear people saying, ‘I love Breaking Bad. My favourite thing about it is that it really appeals to the 18 to 34 year old market’. No one says that!”

But why should you go see the show, if it’s aimed at 43 to 43-and-a-half year olds?

“One of the main criticisms I always hear of my stuff, from pompous blowhards who disapprove of fun, is that it’s ‘undergraduate’,” Andrew says. “I take it as a compliment actually.”

He says young people tend to enjoy comedy more, because “when people get older they get more jaded and boring, and they find it harder to laugh at things.”

Before we say goodbye, we bond over his stint in student media, when he was one of the editors of University of Sydney paper Honi Soit. He laments the “ridiculous circus” of student politics preceding his 1996 editorship.

“It seemed very odd to me that it had nothing whatsoever to do with people’s ability to edit a newspaper,” he says. “It was entirely a thing to do with student politics.”

But even then, Andrew had fellow Chaser member Craig Reucassel to give him a hand. “He knew how to pull all those strings. I didn’t have a clue. I was really sort of interested in writing a few jokes, maybe.”

“I also used to wonder, though, who was reading Honi Soit. I used to worry that the only people reading it were our friends, and I suppose you never know. You never get to find out.”

After that, he had a sort of “demotion”: “a paid job of delivering the student newspaper at UTS.” Driving a van to deliver copies of Vertigo to different campuses meant he could see both ends of student media: “from the perspective of an editor and then later from the perspective of a delivery man”.

And after talking about the past, we turn to the future.

The Chaser will produce a new TV show in the second half of this year. The team is currently “nutting out a new format” for it. “I wish I could tell you about the format but we haven’t really worked it out yet!” Andrew says. “I’m not promising miracles at this stage, who knows? It might be awful.”

Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor will be performing One Man Show from 23 to 26 April. We don’t know anything about the new mystery show yet, so we can’t plug it here.