The Chaser Boys Take on the Celebrity ‘In Conversation’ Q & A in Byron

Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor have taken leave from The Chaser team to produce a handful of live comedy shows to show off their sillier side. The latest production, In Conversation With Lionel Corn, is a send up of the celebrity ‘In Conversation With’ live interview, replete with inept moderator (Chris), prickly genius (Andrew), temperamental microphones and inane audience questions.

Pip Andreas caught up with Chaser member Andrew Hansen ahead of the their appearance at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival.

The Byron Bay Writers Festival is overflowing with “In Conversation With” events. How do you think the likes of Margaret Pomeranz, Mia Freedman and Caroline Baum will take to your send up of the format?

I predict they’ll launch a further series of ‘In Conversation With’ events to discuss whether there are too many ‘In Conversation With’ events.

I confess to being the only person left on the planet who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones. What is it about George R R Martin that inspired you to include his personality in the mash up of characters that constitute Lionel Corn?

Poor Martin is trapped by his own success. He’s finally had this enormous triumph, with wealth and buzz and fans galore – but instead of being free to retire and enjoy himself he’s condemned to spend his 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and probably 100s and 200s finishing the Thrones series. Or else he’ll be lynched. It struck me as a wonderful comical bind for a character. On top of that, we have fun in our show with Martin’s irritating fans, who constantly pester the hapless fellow to write more quickly.

Why is it that the microphones never work at these live events?

Sorry? I think your microphone has dropped out.

The audiences at writers’ festivals are notoriously packed full of middle aged, peri-menopausal women. Will Lionel Corn go easy on them when they ask stupid questions?

No, he won’t. A lot of our show is made up of fake, pre-recorded questions that supposedly come from audience members. We did a great deal of research on the various types of pedantic, irrelevant, selfish, time wasting questions people ask at these events, and we distilled all of them into the show. A wonderful cast of comics provide the recorded voices – Veronica Milsom, Penny Greenhalgh, Patrick Magee, David Cunningham, Zoe Norton Lodge. I did a couple myself! And I am awfully peri-menopausal.

I’m a huge fan of The Checkout. Why didn’t you and Chris join the other members of The Chaser on that programme? Don’t you like shopping?

You got it in one. When the others proposed The Checkout, Chris and I decided to avoid its ratings winning format in favour of niche theatre comedies – a logical choice. Chris and I have always enjoyed exercising our sillier muscles in two-hander comedy shows like Dead Caesar and One Man Show and our album The Blow Parade (which we made with triple j’s Craig Schuftan). The Taylor/Hansen shows are a chance for us to shake off the Chaser thing of being topical and political, and instead focus on fun, absurd comedy, which we personally like better.

What’s next on The Chaser’s agenda?

We’re working on a second series of Media Circus for ABC, which should hit Australia’s screens soon. Actually, tomorrow we’re going to sit down and figure out ways of making the second one a more entertaining and original creature than the first. So bloody well tune in.

Why haven’t you guys made a movie yet?

Personally I couldn’t be arsed.

In Conversation With Lionel Corn by Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor is on Saturday 8 August 5.00 to 6.00pm, Byron Theatre, 69 Jonson St, Byron Bay. For more information go to byronbaywritersfestival.com

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