Rebel’s crew pushing the line for laughs
It takes a lot to shock Rebel Wilson, but the Australian comedian was left stunned as the host of a risky new comedy reality series.
Wilson is the host of LOL: Last One Laughing, a locally-produced series on Amazon Prime Video that sees 10 Australian comedians locked in a room for six hours with the sole purpose of making the others laugh in order to have them booted from the competition.
No smiles, no smirks and definitely no laughs. The person with the straight face is the winner.
Wilson, who sits in a separate room in front of a wall of TVs, plays the referee and storms into the room to hand out a yellow card for a first offence or a red for the second and final.
Frank Woodley, Joel Creasey, Nazeem Hussain, Anne Edmonds, Dilruk Jayasinha, Susie Youssef, Nick Cody, Becky Lucas, Sam Simmons and Ed Kavalee are the first 10 on the show.
Speaking with Insider on the set of the series, which was shot in Sydney late last year, Wilson says with $100,000 on line for the eventual winner, things went to places she never expected.
"It went to a very dark place but that's what happens when you lock these people in a room," she laughs, adding somewhat ominously, "It's not representative of their careers or their personalities out of the experiment.
"It's hard because I don't want to give (away too much) but there is a lot of graphic content and dark, dark things that occur," she says.
The Last One Laughing concept has been a big hit in Japan where it has been running for seven seasons, and it has recently been adapted for audiences in Mexico.
Not limited to just what comes out of their mouth during those six hours, the contestants are also allowed to bring props to up the ante.
Australian viewers will be familiar with most of the faces in the room, but they probably haven't seen them as they are in this show.
Instead of an audience of willing participants who want them to succeed, they are stuck inside four walls with their comic peers who desperately want them to fail.
"It's not like a group of regular people - I think if you had a group of regular folks, they'd be out in 20 minutes, but because these are all seasoned, amazing comedians - and some of them are very competitive - it goes to a very strange, interesting place that I don't think anyone will expect," Wilson says.
The Bridesmaids star, who hosted Channel 7's ratings disappointment Pooch Perfect, stresses the show wouldn't have worked if it was picked up by one of the commercial networks.
"It's a show that couldn't be on free-to-air because there really are no rules - it's uncensored what they can say and what they can do," she says. "It's pretty extreme what happened in our inaugural experiment. I was shocked at how quickly the tone descended."
Speaking before the world was plunged into chaos with the coronavirus pandemic and worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, Wilson said it was a challenging time for comedians around the globe.
"It's weird on social media because there's this hyper social justice going on which is insane to apply to comedians," she says, with reference to political correctness.
"Logically, a comedian's job is to make people laugh and to constantly flirt with the line of what's appropriate and what's not."
She points to her early work here as an example of how things have changed.
"My first show on SBS was Fat Pizza which was the most extreme culturally insensitive show ever," she laughs.
"People would have been crucified for putting that on the air right now, but comedy, there are cycles to it and it does go up and down and it is a bit of a weird time."
As the official in this contest of words, Wilson is reluctant to pick a favourite from the group of 10, but she did have a soft spot for one. "I really like Anne Edmonds. I'd never seen her work before," she says.
"My friend Hugh Sheridan told me that he'd worked with her and that, 'she's really funny'. I just really warmed to her, she was making me laugh a lot.
"There are three girls in the competition and I was rooting for them maybe - I know I can't play favourites, but as a fellow female comedian I was going 'c'mon girls, team up, form an alliance'."
LOL: Last One Laughing is the third local original series produced by Amazon Prime Video after The Test: A New Era For Australia's Team and a series of stand-up specials.
Production is also under way on Back To The Rafters, a reboot of the Channel 7 drama Packed To The Rafters.
The first two episodes of LOL: Last One Laughing will launch on Friday June 19
Originally published as Rebel's crew pushing the line for laughs