It takes balls to hang out with drug dealers, white supremacists and sex workers, but it’s Louis Theroux’s innate ability to be accepted into these worlds that has earned him the reputation of being one of the world’s best documentary makers.
The British 'king of documentaries' has been appearing endearingly on our TV screens since the 1990s and more than two decades on, continues to appeal to audiences from all walks of life with his quirky, albeit intelligent way of exploring the human condition.
After a sell-out tour in 2016, the BBC filmmaker, immersive journalist and social commentator is back in Australia with his tour ‘Louis Theroux Without Limits’.
Hundreds of die-hard fans packed out Brisbane’s Convention & Exhibition Centre last night (15 January) to hear the softly spoken storyteller conversate with television and radio personality Julia Zemiro.
Much like his last tour, the chemistry between the pair was on point, as together they delved into a no-holds barred journey into Louis’s weird and wonderful mind and the adventures his various projects have taken him on.
Everything from dick pics, Melania Trump to Sir David Attenborough were covered, with Louis even treating the Brisbane crowd to a rendition of one of his most embarrassing moments on film – his singing audition for a Norwegian cruise ship.
The first half of the two-hour show took the audience on a behind the scenes tour of many of Louis’s most memorable and controversial encounters.
One of Louis’ most awkward scenes of his career was his participation in a polyamorous “sensual eating experience”. The crowd cringed while roaring with laughter as they watched the semi-naked, blindfolded Theroux being fed chocolate-coated strawberries, while having his ears nuzzled by topless, groaning men and women.
The scene was the perfect icebreaker for the show and reflected the 49-year-old’s unique ability to build rapport with his contributors and to be accepted as one of their own in a matter of moments.
From there the show took on a number of funny, yet serious moments, in particular with regards to Louis’ ongoing contact with some of his contributors.
The father of three revealed how he had stayed in touch with some of his contributors and went on to show interviews of people like JJ, who he met while doing his Weird Weekends series about the porn stars of San Fernando Valley. Eighteen years on and six marriages later, JJ is now happily married working in IT and living in Ukraine with his new wife and their little baby girl.
Revisiting these people and seeing how their lives had evolved adds even more value to Louis’ work, as you can literally see the impact his films have had on these people.
The final part of the show took this behind-the-scenes insight to the next level, with a special guest appearance from Megan Phelps-Roper.
Megan and her family appeared in the 2007 documentary 'America’s Most Hated Family', which provided an insight into the Phelps family who run the Westboro Baptist Church and are infamously known in America for their anti-gay rhetoric.
Megan and Louis both reflected on their individual experiences during the making of the documentary and how it had taken them both by surprise when Megan and her sister made the decision to leave the church, and ultimately their entire family a few years ago.
Louis ended the show by saying it was his sincere hope that through covering these people and their stories – often during traumatic events – that a connection could take place and some of their loneliness would be alleviated.