• Andy Lee confronted Wil Anderson about their past during a taping of the 'Wilosophy' podcast. (Getty Images)
“I know that I behaved like a di**head," Wil Anderson said after Andy Lee raised the pair's difficult past.
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

12 Jun 2019 - 2:51 PM  UPDATED 12 Jun 2019 - 3:50 PM

Anyone who has been bullied will likely have fantasised about that moment of justice. When you get a chance to sit down opposite the person who once bullied you and address everything that went down. It's not necessarily about getting an apology, but more-so an acknowledgement of the pain caused, a moment of catharsis; a chance to close a hurtful chapter and move forward.

It's a fantasy that Australian comedian Andy Lee, one half of the famous Hamish and Andy duo, had the chance to live out recently with his one-time bully, award-winning comedian Wil Anderson. 

Not only that, but he did while recording an episode of Anderson's popular podcast, Wilosophy.

“I want to raise something with you which is pretty confronting,” Andy said shortly after being introduced to listeners.

“Hamish and I didn’t like you for a very, very, long time.”

“Hamish and I didn’t like you for a very, very, long time.”

It was a conversation Anderson knew was coming and the pair approached it with a refreshing openness and willingness to listen and take accountability.

“We were the last cast members of what was meant to be a sketch show called Big Bite,” Andy explained to listeners, giving the conversation some context.

While Hamish and Andy were relative unknowns, the show included a cast of comedy-scene names at the time, including Andrew O’Keefe, Chris Lilley and Kate McCartney. Many of the cast-members were friends with Anderson, who was already a household name for his stand up comedy and work on shows including Glasshouse.

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According to Lee, just before the show’s launch on Channel 7, producers decided to re-name the show Hamish and Andy - a decision which upset other members of the cast.

“As 21-year-olds in our first gig, to step out and see everyone in there looking at you going, ‘You’ve just stolen our f***ing show’, we tried to talk to people, and it turned into a train wreck,” Andy said. “It was an awful experience.”

The other cast members were so upset at the young comedy duo that they started speaking negatively of them to their friends, including Anderson.

“There was a whole bunch of people who you guys had been foisted upon,” Anderson admitted on Wilosophy. “You guys were young, and you were put into a show where I knew a whole bunch of people who were involved in the show, and some of them were not happy that these two young people had been thrown into this show, so I was getting a lot of stories.”

According to the pair, Anderson soon started expressing disdain for the Hamish and Andy show - using them as the butt of his jokes on live TV and snubbing them in person. Anderson even boasted about buying a new kitchen with the money he'd made from making fun of the up-and-comers.

It was this nastiness that left Lee feeling hurt and confused, he said. In addition, it upset his mother to see him publicly dissed by such a well-known name.

“I know that I behaved like a di**head," Anderson reflected.

“I thought it was funny, I thought I was being really smart… For me it felt like I was punching up, I thought I was making fun of commercial TV whereas in retrospect I understand… you were just guys trying to do a good job and trying to work hard and were being punched down on."

He added: “I’d forgotten that Hamish and Andy were actually people, not a brand or a symbol of something but actual people."

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“The big thing that came to me was the realisation when I started listening to your radio show that you weren’t what I had heard you were,” Anderson told Lee. “I just kept hearing how hard you worked, and if there’s one thing I admire, it’s hard work.”

He continued: “For me it’s something I’ve carried around for a fair while, and I’ve always felt despite the fact we are now friendly, we have not been able to become friends because we had not had this conversation."

“I’d forgotten that Hamish and Andy were actually people, not a brand or a symbol of something but actual people."

Those who find themselves on the receiving end of bullying in the schoolyard or workplace rarely find closure. It can take years of therapy to undo the harm caused and overcome the self-doubt that often stems from, as Anderson describes it, having someone - particularly someone you admire - punch down at you.

To have both Lee and Anderson approach their history, however painful, in a public forum and give each other the time and respect to express themselves is wonderful a lesson for others. It also demonstrates how we so often need more than just an apology, we need a chance to speak and not only be heard, but understood.

You can listen to the full interview with Andy Lee on Wil Anderson’s Wilosophy podcast here.

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