Chris Taylor can’t reveal much about the Adelaide Fringe show he’s presenting with fellow Chaser member Andrew Hansen, not because he wants to keep it a secret, but due to the fact the duo have still got most of it to write.
“We’re pretty much just sitting down now to get into the bulk of the show’s writing, which might sound terribly last minute and irresponsible, but it’s the only way we know how to work,” Taylor explains about his and Hansen’s One Man Show. “You could give us two years to write a show and we’d still only turn our minds to it in the final two weeks. It either tells something about our terrible lack of discipline or it says something about the fact that we’ve always tended to work in the area of topical comedy. Sometimes it just feels redundant to work on something knowing they’ll be other stories to trump them later on, so we wait until the last minute to make the show as fresh and timely as possible.” Taylor says One Man Show will be close to the spirit of The Chaser’s popular ABC series The Chaser’s War On Everything, where they’ll balance sketches with songs, and satire with “absurdism and silliness”. “We always liked that about the War On Everything. It had a mix of things: pieces that were trying to say something with sketches that just existed for comedy’s sake. Andrew and I are particularly interested in a more British style of absurdism. The show will try and balance those two types of comedy.” A former journalist, Taylor studied playwriting at NIDA and joined The Chaser (who were producing a satirical newspaper of the same name) in 2001. The Chaser moved from print to television after Andrew Denton discovered them and they produced CNNN for the ABC. Taylor and fellow Chaser member Craig Reucassel hosted Today Today on triple j for a couple of years before returning to television screens in 2007 for the War On Everything. At the height of the War’s popularity, Taylor wrote a play for Sydney Theatre Company called Dead Caesar. The 39-year-old says One Man Show will be nothing like Dead Caesar, as that production was a vaudeville comedy with a plot and characters. That doesn’t mean One Man Show will be themeless, as subjects Taylor wants to explore include social media and the Abbott Government. “There are a couple of incidental themes emerging. There’s a general distain for people’s increasing reliance on social media and reliance on using social media in the worst possible way rather than a beneficial positive way. It’s hard to say with any certainty what’s in the show but there’s a chance we’ll be looking at the first few months of the Abbott Government and the way they’re reshaping the country in their image.” Taylor, who recently returned from an overseas holiday, says some of his experiences from that trip might make it into the show,especially about what he calls the bragging backpacker – people who “always think they’re having a more authentic experience than anyone else staying at the hostel and brag about how they went to a less touristy town that no one else goes to” – and travellers who journey for the sole reason of having a more interesting social media account. Then there are internet trolls and commentators. “We’ve experienced first hand what’s it like to watch the live Tweets critique your show joke-by-joke as it goes live to air, which is not an experience I recommend to anyone – it’s pretty soul destroying. But we’ve got this idea of live Tweeting throughout history and imagining what the Tweets would have been like during Christ’s crucifixion: ‘This crucifixion’s so gay!’ That kind of stuff. It’s slightly indulgent because we look at the comments of our own output on YouTube, so we’ve been personally slighted by it. I think people whose work hasn’t been publically critiqued can still relate to the idea of internet trolling. We’re planning a sketch along those lines.” Given Taylor’s journalism and playwriting background, he always seemed like the type of comedian to follow fellow Australian funnymen John Safran and John Doyle into the realm of writing serious theatre or a book. So, is he? “I’m kinda quite lazy,” Taylor admits. “The greatest thing about my career, and probably the worst thing, is that I had one ambition as a child and that was to one day write for a comedy show on the ABC. I was incredibly lucky that I got to do that and since I’ve done that I find myself very ambitionless. I’m one of those people who got to do the thing they wanted to do, which rarely happens. Now I need to set new ambitions for myself but I’d only be seeking them for the sake of keeping myself occupied. I don’t have this burning ambition to write a book or a film or anything but I might have a crack at that just to keep myself busy and in work. I find that you become creatively stagnate when you have the great fortune to actually achieve your one ambition. That’s a slightly philosophical answer but to answer in a more convenient, sound bite friendly way, I do have an idea for a book, a non-fiction book that would be kind of ambitious. It’s a non-fiction idea that involves travel and going on an unusual trip and then writing it up.” Taylor would also like to have a proper “crack at theatre”. “That feels like old man’s work – second-half of life stuff. Like, when you turn 50 you turn to the more serious arts such as theatre. I’ll probably write an opera and a ballet too,” he jokes. “I’ve still got the silliness to get out of my system for a couple more years yet.” Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen One Man Show The Garden of Unearthly Delights (Spiegeltent Paradiso) Friday, February 28 to Sunday, March 2 gardenofunearthlydelights.com.au *This article first appeared on Rip It Up