Adam Hills: Go You Big Red Fire Engine 2: Judgemen
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Since the 2002 international tour of Go You Big Red Fire Engine, the phrase has appeared in a range of public places around the world, and was famously yelled out in Australian Parliament by the leader of the Democrat Party, Natasha Stott-Despoja.
For Adam Hills, Go You Big Red Fire Engine is less a catchphrase, more a philosophy. The idea behind it is to celebrate, loudly and unselfconsciously, all that's good in life spreading the joy as you go.
As the ultimate feelgood comedian, he's more than doing his bit, and by revisiting the theme of his 2001 Fringe show he aims to maintain the message and perhaps, after three Perrier nominations, cock a snook at the festival's constant demand for reinvention.
Indeed, here he starts with almost ten minutes of old material, retelling the tale of how the phrase originated from an over-exuberant punter invited on stage at the Adelaide festival for some James Brown-inspired shenanigans to raise the spirits. That whole routine is duly revived here, too, demonstrating how ruthlessly effective it is in setting energy level high, even if the rerun is disappointing for those hoping for something new. Later gags about the Australian accent's rising inflection have an air of familiarity, too.
The meat of his show, though, is an assault on the Disney Corporation, or Mousewitz, which he claims prohibits disabled people from being photographed in its theme parks for the bogus reason that it would prove Mickey and Co cannot make dreams come true, and so undermine the corporate message.
Hills's solution is to nip inside the California theme park for a few minutes, have a picture taken that clearly shows his prosthetic right foot and sneak out. The resultant, static photograph, with no characters in sight save Mickey's face mown into the lawn, is hardly likely to rattle the multinational giant, but it makes the point, kind of.
Michael Moore, it certainly ain't. But with Hills, content is a side issue to the presentation. "I love all that Vegas showbiz shit," he says and proves it by never letting the spirit of the consummate entertainer slipt.
He's an inclusive, generous comic, a genuine people person who's never more at home than riffing with the audience. Tonight, he uncovered a few gems in the first few rows who contributed immeasurably to the jollity of the hour, but his skill in creating the unthreatening, easygoing atmosphere that drew them out of their shells in the first place is not to be underestimated.
It's almost impossible not to leave an Adam Hills gig with a spring in your step and joy in your heart, basking in the life-affirming message he delivers with such conviction, and more than a touch of chintzy glitz. This year's offering may not be the perfect show, but Hills will always be the perfect showman.