Adam Hills – Happyism at The Lowry

Beloved in Australia, and on his way to becoming the same in the UK due to his recent stint on The Last Leg, Adam Hills has carved a career for himself based on the reputation of being the nicest guy in comedy. And three seconds in to his set you instantly see why. First of all, he’s an Aussie, enough said. Secondly, he is remarkably comfortable on stage. Admitting a weakness for strong openings, he instead simply instigates a chat. This ready-made relationship with the audience leaves the show free to go anywhere; Whether it’s taking pictures with die hard fans or stealing wet wipes to clean up a stain someone had pointed out to him via Twitter. Each random act continues to affirms the image of him as supremely likeable. In the hands of another comic, this could seem like filler, a few extra minutes to get your moneys worth. But for Hills this, and everything he does, is genuine. He has a curiosity, a warmness and an appreciation for everyone in the room and arguably that is the strongest way to start a show. It helps that he’s a bit dishy too.

The show itself is about taking opportunities, being positive and, generally, not being a dick. Simple advice that perhaps more people should listen too. From an ill-fated appearance on a difficult talk show which tried to make him say mean things about Megan (Meeeegan) Fox, to a complex meeting with The Muppets, as well a brief bromance with the Dalai Lama, the show is sometimes touching, but primarily and consistently funny. There are the expected “aren’t Australians different” jokes, but even these are done with such relish that it’s impossible not to splutter awkwardly. And the image of Richard Simmons being the face of a New Zealand in-flight video will be one that takes a stringent eye bath to remove.

He conjures an unshakable confidence within an audience and no matter how temping it seems Hills never relies on his personality alone. He is, however, in his element when he improvises, and it doesn’t hurt that the audience itself provides him with all the material he needs. Plucking gems from that day’s Twitter such as “is it wrong to want to see him take his foot off” along with the recommendation to sell tiny prosthetic leg key chains from now on. Genius.

It’s perhaps not the most groundbreaking or daring performance, but there are other people to fill that need. Happyism is playful and witty as well as having its own certain poignancy. Most importantly, it really makes you aware that there is a significant difference between coming out of a show laughing and coming out of a show happy, the latter of which he certainly has the monopoly over. His charm, his ease, his joy is infectious. If Happyism is his religion, then call me a convert.


Words by Hannah Clapham-Clark