Wil Anderson had big plans for touring his comedy in 2020. He'd left his regular breakfast show gig at Triple M in Melbourne at the end of 2019, and had dates booked all over the country.
But when he walks on stage at the Brunswick Picture House on Monday night, January 25, it'll be the first time he's performed stand up in almost a year.
While COVID shutdowns were initially to blame for his absence from the stage he admits it's not the only thing that's been holding him back.
Despite a busy year that included moving to Goonengerry with his Alstonville-born partner, throwing a heap of time and energy into his podcasts, including the hugely popular Wilosophy - and continuing his role as host of ABC TV's Gruen (working remotely for the majority of the time), 2020 also involved a lot of introspection.
"I tend to overthink things at the best of times, which is a positive thing in terms of how I've made my living, it's the heart of the comedy I do.
"I can't help but look at something and pick it apart from all angles - and I've been doing that with myself.
"That's one of the things in lockdown, you just have an incredible amount of time for self reflection - and that can be great, but it can also be really tough.
That's one of the things in lockdown, you just have an incredible amount of time for self reflection - and that can be great, but it can also be really tough.
"I think a lot of people have struggled with that at different times. I certainly have and I've seen people that I love struggle with it."
"I think, it's important not to overstate it - I'm incredibly aware of the massive amount of privilege I have - my struggle is not someone else's struggle, but I don't think it helps them or anybody else by pretending that you're not having a struggle."
When the restrictions started to lift and his peers started getting back on stage, he felt no desire to get back to stand-up - and didn't think he would for some time.
That was until a 'perfect storm' of events conspired to get him back on stage this month.
"What I was going to do was watch a bunch of mates do their shows at the Brunswick Picture House - that was my January plan. I was like, 'this'll be great, I've got so many friends coming in to do shows, I'll go and see some shows, that'll wind me back up to want to do it again, you know, be enthusiastic about it again'.
"And then the first 19 of those shows got cancelled because of the border closures.
"I was just thinking of the team at the Picture House and the fact they'd done such an incredible job to keep some shows going and doing them in a safe way and all those things, and I thought well, you know this is your local community - this is where you live, and you don't need to worry about borders - you live down the road."
He decided to 'dip his toe in' with two improvised shows: "I thought maybe I'm looking at his the wrong way round - maybe instead of delaying until I know what I want to say, I should just get up there and see what it is that I have to say. "
He says not knowing what will happen next is always a thrill - for him and the audience.
"Every night is completely different. You're going to come along and see something that no one else is going to see again, and there's something quite exciting about that.
"It's the ultimate in Northern Rivers wellness oneness, like, 'Be Here Now, 'because there's never anything more 'Be Here Now'. We're all here now, its all happening, I don't know what I'm going to say next, we don't know what's going to happen next. We're all in this trip together and hopefully its going to be something we all feel really great about afterwards."
It's the ultimate in Northern Rivers wellness oneness, 'Be Here Now'...We're all here now, its all happening, I don't know what I'm going to say next, we don't know what's going to happen next.
He says his first foray back may - or may not - be the start of something more.
"This is a good way to see if I'm ready to come back. It's only two shows.
"Maybe I'll do two and I'll get to the end of the second one and I'll be like 'nup not quite ready yet', but glad I've dipped my toe in and I know that now for sure, or I'll be like 'wow, yep that was exciting.'
"I don't know. If 2020 has taught me anything at all, it's that I should not make long term plans."
- Wil Anderson, Whatchu Talkin' 'Bout Wil is at the Brunswick Picture House on January 25 and 30
- NB: Another show at the Brunswick Picture House has now been added for February 20.