Book Review: Adam Hills’ Best Foot Forward proves that he is an elder statesman of comedy

Adam Hills is the nicest guy in comedy. Thanks to his memoir, Best Foot Forward, he can also claim to be a “top bloke” in the world of publishing. In this book he reflects on both his personal life and his career, offering up lots of funny anecdotes and inspirational stories. As with his stand-up, it’s hard not to feel joy and be buoyed by reading Best Foot Forward.

Hillsy has been working in comedy for almost 30 years. In Best Foot Forward he reflects on his first ever attempt at stand-up at his 19th birthday party. He’d brought along a group of mates and while he did well enough, the MC was critical about his set. Hills was studying journalism at the time and living with his parents in the Shire in Sydney. But, his star would only climb from there and his career would see him living in various cities all over the world.

In this book, Hillsy name-drops quite a few celebrities. One of the most famous and frequently recurring characters is Billy Connolly, a comedian who Hills admires. When Hills was working in radio in Adelaide he got to meet the famous Scotsman. Hills told Connolly about his dreams of being a stand-up, and the latter was like a “hairy godmother.” He told the youngster to “Just do it!” He encouraged Hillsy to quit radio and pursue comedy full-time, because he felt it was the best job in the world. Years later when the two reconnected, Connolly showed his support yet again by yelling, “We did it!” What charming men.

Amongst other stories, Hillsy also describes a funny road trip with Ross Noble, a friendship with Whoopi Goldberg, playing a tricky gig at a buck’s party, and meeting the Queen. The television shows that Hills would host – music trivia show, Spicks & Specks in Australia and chat show, The Last Leg in the UK – are also covered here. This book is untimely like a bright and warm rainbow delivered by a natural storyteller, it’s colourful in parts and will make you laugh, smile and cry.

The book is made up of short, sharp chapters and features lots of jokes and puns. Not to mention lots of amusing anecdotes where Hillsy describes his artificial right leg, and his encounters backstage at comedy clubs and with various celebrities. We also get to find out more about his inspirations and motivations. It is interesting, for example, that both Kermit the Frog and the Dalai Lama would prove so influential on Hillsy’s work, with the comedian realising that he wanted to not only make people laugh, but also to raise their souls and spirits. It’s fair to say that he has succeeded with this at many points during his career, not just in this book.

Best Foot Forward is an enjoyable read and one that should be consumed by any self-respecting comedy fan. Hillsy comes across as an utter gentleman, someone you’d love to sit down, have a beer with, and find out more. This intimate and conversational story really shines a light on Adam’s world and is leaps and bounds above your stock-standard celebrity biography.

 

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills is published by Hachette Australia, and available now.

Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/