“It was wild in there,” Anne Edmonds admits.
“It’s not for the faint hearted, I guess. If you’re easily shocked, it’s not the show for you.”
She is talking about new Amazon Prime series LOL: Last One Laughing Australia in which 10 comedians are locked for 6 hours in a room, to crack jokes, but never a smile.
The last one standing wins $100,000. Watching on, Big Brother-style, was host Rebel Wilson ready to eliminate anybody who laughed or failed to keep a straight face.
Sounds easy? Think again. What went on is some of the rudest, most outrageous stuff on TV.
“It was intense. I’ve spent 12 hours on a set before, but not engaged in impro,” she continues.
“It sort of led to a kind of collective madness”
“We see a lot of Comedy, so when it comes to each other, it takes an extra level of absurdity to make each other laugh. Plus, we were in a very strange scenario not being allowed to laugh. So it sort of led to a kind of collective madness.”
Joining her in the challenge were Dilruk Jayasinha, Frank Woodley, Nazeem Hussain, Ed Kavalee, Becky Lucas, Joel Creasey, Nick Cody, Sam Simmons and Susie Youssef.
Wilson watches on from multiple cameras, ready to yellow card or red card anybody who as much as stifles a laugh under the hothouse conditions. Comedians used jokes, physical comedy, props and even nudity to try to derail their each other.
Edmonds says she had second thoughts about joining the fray when invited to participate.
“I did think about it for a while. Being locked away with other comedians for that length of time did set up off a few alarm bells. I was pretty uncertain about what was going to go on.
“Comedians now don’t really have sketch shows there anymore, although I am in one at the moment, which is really nice. But it’s been missing for a long time. If you think about Comedy Company and Fast Forward, comedians were able to collaborate with each other.
“The opportunity to improvise with Frank Woodley was pretty cool”
“So the opportunity to improvise with Frank Woodley was pretty cool. That was the most appealing thing I think.”
The concept, which originated in Japan, merges comedy with Reality TV with the cast kept in the dark as to who else would be participating. It has also seen a Mexican adaptation but Australia is the first English-speaking production. While $100,000 is up for grabs, all acts were remunerated for their time.
Edmonds noted Joel Creasey, Becky Lucas and Nick Cody as those who were likely to see her lose it.
“The biggest downfall for me was when I forgot I was in a game, because I spent all the time with those guys joking and monkeying around. If they walked past me and just said a comment that’s where I was bound to laugh, as opposed to set pieces they were performing.
“Once it’s a set-up, you can manage it. But when people just give you a quick comment you didn’t see coming, that’s when you’re in trouble, I think,” she explains.
“I was in character for a good hour and a half”
“I was in character for a good hour and a half, which was actually really useful for me because it was a really good way not to laugh actually. That character is particularly miserable, so that was handy.
“I took a banjo in there, but I just tried to hang around and see if I could get a line in there, to make people laugh. And I did a musical at one point.”
She also drew upon Aunty Carol, a character from her sketch comedy podcast, and “Helen Bidou also makes an appearance, unfortunately.”
“The bit I couldn’t resist was going to Kellerman’s”
The series marks the second reality show Edmonds has done in the past 12 months, having been a surprise participant in Seven’s Real Dirty Dancing.
“I was surprised to see my name on that list too,” she agree.
“The bit I couldn’t resist was going to Kellerman’s, the set where the movie was made. It was extremely hard to say no to. That was wild, really.
“People seemed to enjoy it… I don’t know why, but I guess it was a family friendly show that everyone could watch.”
“It’s a difficult time for the industry”
But Edmonds admits performers have to be versatile, especially at a time of production shutdown and funding cutbacks hitting comedy.
“It’s a difficult time for the industry. There’s still a great amount of uncertainty about when productions can start again. With a combination of COVID-19 and now the government cutting funding to the ABC, it’s becoming quite grim.
“There’s some work being done, I think, to get the streaming services to look at quotas and make Australian content, so that that’s something that might help.
“Amazon made our stand up specials as well, so they’re investing in local content, which is great.”
LOL: Last One Laughing Australia premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.