Hills foots the bill
Paralympics host Adam Hills makes light of his own disability, write Flip Shelton and Darren Devlyn
Fwave someone through who they believed had the potential to carry out an act of violence, or would they overcome their awkwardness and check out his artificial foot.
‘‘I thought it was funny that they just let me go through because they were uncomfortable about the foot,’’ Hills says.
‘‘They were more freaked out about my foot than about the idea of me being a terrorist. That ended up being a joke in the show.’’
ROR the first 10 years of his comedy career, Adam Hills was reluctant to make light of his life with a disability.
Though Hills has mastered the art of self-deprecation, it wasn’t until terrorists struck New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001 that he decided it was safe to incorporate the disability — he was born without a right foot — into his act.
Hills (right) had delayed doing such a show until then because he feared it would slow his career progress.
‘‘I didn’t want to be known as the one-legged comedian. I wanted to prove myself as a comic before talking about it,’’ Hills says.
He came up with the concept of a show, Happy Feet, after flying from London to Paris. It was a time the world was on a heightened security alert.
He says he is prone to setting off airport metal detectors and on this occasion he suspected security guards were worried he might have had a weapon concealed in his artificial foot.
Suddenly, Hills says, guards had to make a decision. Would they ECENTLY, during a late night gig in Edinburgh, an audience member asked Hills to ‘‘crowd surf’’ the artificial foot. Out into the crowd it went. ‘‘When it came back,’’ Hill adds with a laugh, ‘‘a note was written on the inside.’’
Hills, whose first paid gig was writing for kids’ character Agro, has mass appeal thanks to his hosting role on the ABC’s Spicks and Specks.
Hills is successful because has an appeal that cuts across all demographics. He is funny without being a smarta---.
A review of his stand-up act described Hill as ‘‘a really nice bloke, like tea and crumpets on a cold winter’s day’’. Another review described him as having the savagery of a puppy wearing carpet slippers.
Speaking to the raspy.
He’s had too many late nights performing at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
He’s also preparing to work on the ABC’s coverage of the Paralympic Games, which start on Saturday. Hills will host the opening and closing ceremonies for ABC. Working alongside him will be Australia’s most-lauded Paralympian, Louise Sauvage, and sports reporters Karen Tighe and Steve Robilliard.
The ABC says it chose Hills because ‘‘he understands what it’s like to have a disability and for his light touch’’.
When told of the savage reaction to Sonia Kruger’s ‘‘light touch’’ during Channel 7’s Olympics coverage, Hills responds: ‘‘So I guess the wheelchair with flashing lights and spinning bits is out, then.’’
‘‘It’s (working on the Paralympics) really just like Spicks and
I’m between two experts — Karen has the commentating cred and Louise the competing cred — and I’m in the middle telling jokes about all the nations and the athletes. That’s my job.’’
Is he concerned some might howl if he dares be politically incorrect?
Hills insists you can make something funny without being offensive.
‘‘People do take their sport seriously and I think the parade of athletes (opening ceremony) is a huge thing. These people have worked incredibly hard for a long time, so it will be great to introduce them to the viewers,’’ Hills says.
‘‘We love a great story, especially that of a battler. And each and every one of these Aussie Paralympians has an inspiring story to tell. Every one of them has overcome some sort of hurdle— whether they consider it a hurdle or not.’’