Peter Helliar is a man who knows how to catch the eye. For his latest show, Helliar continues his tradition of adopting titles which are “vague”, matching them with posters featuring photos of him in “daggy” attire with looks ranging from '70s-TV-detective to nerdy-prom-portrait.
Keeping with this aesthetic, the poster for 'One Hot Mess' features Helliar in a white tracksuit, gold jewellery and a blonde wig that mimics the straightened-fringe hairstyle of currently-fashionable male popstars or, as Helliar puts it, “a bit like Margaret Pomeranz”; a contrast to other comedian’s artwork “becoming less funny and more serious. The older comedians get, the more serious they look: they look more like rock posters.
“[The look] was inspired by K-Pop,” Helliar explains about the show’s artwork. “My brother-in-law runs a dry-cleaning business, and there was this white tracksuit top with a gold stripe across it that hadn’t been claimed in three years. I saw it, and wanted to use it for the photo shoot for this show. It was a week away and I was still figuring out what to wear; I just knew it had to be something ‘out-there’. I’d never seen anyone wear an ABBA-tracksuit, and knew I had to use it. It was fortuitous. It’s now back where I found it, waiting to be picked up.”
Beginning his comedy career in 1996, Helliar has been a familiar face on Australian television screens since his debut as a presenter on the much-loved chat show ‘Rove Live’. Since ‘Rove’ finished its run, Helliar has kept a busy schedule with not just stand-up, but also presenting a number of radio and television shows, writing and starring in the film ‘I Love You Too’, and creating the hit ABC series ‘It’s A Date’.
Helliar is currently presenting alongside Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore on the current-affairs programme ‘The Project’. Because of the intensive demands of ‘The Project’, Helliar took time off from the festival circuit in order to “recharge my batteries”.
Despite the break, Helliar’s work ethic didn’t tire as he continued to prepare a new show throughout the year. The result of his work is ‘One Hot Mess’. When explaining the meaning of the show’s title, Helliar made his method of naming shows clear. “I try to pick show titles that are not particularly representative of me, and I thought it would be a funny title to have. I felt that ‘One Hot Mess’ is a good reflection of the show: you won’t learn a whole deal more, but it’s fun, which is what I think [a comedy show] should be.”
With the title not giving anything away about the show, Helliar reveals he will share stories from his life as he has in previous shows. However, during his break from festivals Helliar began experimenting with his formula to offer something fresh for audiences. “I felt that the last couple of shows, as fun as they were, they were a bit ‘the same’. I love stand-up, but I wanted to find a new way of approaching the material. It’s not necessarily a massive shift; I still talk about me and what’s going on in my life: I haven’t become completely political or an over-the-top surrealist.
“I plan on digging a bit deeper. In other years I’ve tried not to comment on social and political issues, but hanging out with Waleed [Aly] every week has made me think a bit more about these things. Working on ‘The Project’ makes it seep into your brain and makes it harder to separate them from when I’m writing stand-up. But I’ll be keeping myself loose and changing it night to night.”
Peter Helliar Dates13-20 Feb - Adelaide Fringe
11-13 Mar - Brisbane Comedy Festival
25-26 Mar - Spigeltent Hobart
9-17 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival
29-30 Apr - Perth Comedy Festival
5-6 May - Sydney Comedy Festival
3-4 Jun - Canberra Theatre Centre