Published Jul 29, 2016Centred around the theme of finding hope and humour amid all the crap life throws at you, Adam Hills' Clown Heart could not have had a better name. Inspirational and delightfully funny, this new hour from the amputee Aussie celebrity definitely stood out as not only unique, but one of the sweetest shows of the festival.
Hills established the candid, interactive nature of his hour from the moment he walked on stage. He asked an audience member from Sydney to have a conversation with him in the most incomprehensible Australian slang he could muster, encouraged the latecomers (who included Whoopi Goldberg and Nathan Lane) to walk to their seats in weird ways for the audience's entertainment, and talked about clitorises after noticing a teenage boy in the crowd.
Once he felt he'd gotten to know the audience, Hills dug into bits about his family. He joked about how wives can discount their husband's opinions on parenting by simply reminding them what they went through to bring those kids into existence, talked about how the diplomatic parenting style of a gay couple he knows was absolutely baffling to him, and discussed how having two daughters has lead him to stop judging single parents who shout without restraint at their kids. This material segued into Hills telling a beautiful story about teaching his eldest daughter what death is, then Hills delved into the significance of his show's name.
Hills explained that the phrase "clown heart" stems from two things: from the tattoo of a red clown nose he got on his chest to raise money for the UK charity Red Nose Day; and on a deeper level, it refers to a winsome approach to life where you always try to goof around and love every moment.
The latter meaning was evidently Hills' modus operandi. His narrative about his father's fight against cancer managed to draw amusement from his father's last days, while his story about his mother's clumsy attempt to spread her husband's ashes was darkly comical. To end the show with a bang, Hills then brought on Craig, a man with terminal cancer who posts nude photos of himself every Tuesday in order laugh through his remaining days, to aid him in his finale. In a gesture that was as uplifting as it was laugh-out-loud funny, Hills proceeded to sing an anthem that laughed in cancer's face, then both of them stripped to their underwear with beaming pride in an absolute triumph of a conclusion.