Hills foots the bill

Par­a­lympics host Adam Hills makes light of his own dis­abil­ity, write Flip Shel­ton and Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

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.

Guide,

Hills is

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.’’

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