Two Aussie seniors, Max Gillies with Bob Hawke.
Two Aussie seniors, Max Gillies with Bob Hawke.

Max Gillies approaches life with all he’s got to give

HE IS not far off 75, but entertainer Max Gillies is approaching life with all the vigour of a man half his age.

In July he will take his show, Once Were Leaders, to Noosa for the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, and it promises to entertain with all the hallmark wit and satire he is so famous for.

Max Gillies was born in 1941, and became best known to us for his biting comedy series The Gillies Report in 1984 and The Gillies Republic in 1986 and then Gillies and Company in 1992.

He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990 and has not stopped working during a long and acclaimed career - and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Once Were Leaders is a tribute to Gillies' collaborators over 40-plus years of living on the periphery of politics.

It will be presented in two halves at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, first revisiting favourite political monologues from his archive to celebrate the work of his writers, Don Watson, Patrick Cook, Guy Rundle and Heathcote Williams.

The second half is more an informal conversation with the audience - an anecdotal reminiscence of a life lived in the satirical penumbra of the political sun.

Gillies has played political leaders going back as far as Bob Menzies and says he found the majority who provided the richest vein were the bunch from the 80s when economies were globalised.

"Hawke, Reagan and Thatcher all feature," he said. "Along with Fraser, Howard and the Queen and Graeme Richardson.

"The show harks back to a time when leaders were all a bit larger than life and apparently braver than they are these days."

Gone are the days of wigs, make-up and disguise. Now Gillies portrays his famous political characters through expressions and dialogue alone.

"When we made our TV shows and cabarets, I was younger than all my targets," he said.

"Now they're all younger than me."

Making a younger face look older is generally more effective than the opposite

And what does this master of political impersonations think of Donald Trump?

"His toupee is a perfect emblem for his combination of fakery and unruly bombast," Gillies said.

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