"You end up on stage going, 'So what's the deal with trains? Has anyone else woken up in a hotel at noon?'"
"Everyone's brought up how long it's been since I've been in touch. I feel like a slightly neglectful parent," says Adam Hills, sitting in a car park in the rain after a fitting for a new prosthetic foot. But that's the last thing you could accuse the beloved Australian funnyman of.
Hills, who splits his time between London and Melbourne, has six series of hit satirical UK talk show The Last Leg under his belt, and says that's in part why his Aussie show Adam Hills Tonight had to die.
"When The Last Leg took off I made that decision mainly because I had two young daughters and I wanted to spend time with them. All I was doing was writing jokes and delivering them and not having any life. You've got to have a life to be a comedian, so you can be funny about it on stage. But when I made that decision I wrote a blog about it and I had so many comedians contact me to say I gave them the courage to do it too. You're scared of stopping — 'It's all going to go away one day so I have to do all the gigs now'. You don't have to do all the gigs now. If all you do is tour and you go straight into another tour, you end up on stage going, 'So what's the deal with trains? Has anyone else woken up in a hotel at noon?'"
"You've got to have a life to be a comedian, so you can be funny about it on stage."
Hills, who is married to Melbourne opera singer Ali McGregor, still does frequently have to spend as much as two months a year away from his family, but says it makes the time they have together that much sweeter.
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"My dad worked for Qantas," he says. "He was a Qantas air steward and he was away all the time and we never held it against him, we just thought it was great when he was home. I grew up with a dad travelling round the world making sure people were happy — he did it on the plane, and I do it when I get off the plane! But it's great, not working nine to five. [When the family is in London] my five-year-old and I have a tradition on a Wednesday that if I have a day off we go into the West End, go to a matinee of The Lion King or Wicked, and go to a fancy restaurant."
Hills visited Australia in October to film an 18-day The Last Leg special, with co-hosts Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, who was "so scared of spiders he checked under the toilet seat in the Virgin Lounge in Sydney Airport". They rescued crocodiles from traps in Darwin, went pig hunting outside Goulburn, and saw an Aboriginal heavy metal band in Alice Springs. "It was extreme Australia," Hills says. But perhaps his most extreme Aussie experience is yet to come — when he returns soon to take the stage at the Sydney Opera House.
"Saying that still makes me giggle," he says. "The show's called Clown Heart, and I'll be talking about the main things that have gone on in my life over the last few years — watching my daughters grow up, and watching my dad pass away. It's a theme of having as much fun as we can while we're here. My daughter was asking me about death sitting in the bath the other night, and was she going to die, and she said, 'I don't want to die, daddy, because I like my new soap.' That sums up how everyone everywhere has ever dealt with the idea of death! I said, 'You have as much fun as you can, I'll have as much fun as I can, we'll make each other laugh as much as we can.' I really like that attitude."