Comedian Adam Hills cites inspiration for new show, “Happyism”: the Dalai Lama

Aussie comedian Adam Hills meets the Dalai Lama backstage at the "Songs for the Dalai Lama" concert he hosted in Perth in 2011.

Adam Hills, an upbeat Aussie currently touring a stand-up comedy show called “Happyism,” has copped to one of his comedic influences: His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Well, we know His Holiness’ infectious laugh is world-famous, but really?

Yes, really. Apparently, Hills, already a TV celebrity Down Under, got a gig in 2011 hosting an event called “Songs for the Dalai Lama” in Perth. Just prior, another Australian TV presenter had earned nationwide ridicule when, in an interview with the Dalai Lama, he tried out the old, “What did the Dalai Lama say when he ordered a pizza? Make me one with everything” joke. It met with His Holiness’ cheerful incomprehension, despite several attempts by his translator to convey the meaning. When Hills later shared the Perth stage with the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of 14,000, he said, “I’m a comedian, but I won’t be telling you a joke,” earning a deep chuckle from His Holiness, and a big laugh from the crowd.

Hills quipped on his Facebook page, “I told the Dalai Lama I wouldn’t try to tell him a joke, and he laughed. How appropriate. I made His Holiness laugh by doing nothing.”

At that concert, according to Perth Now, the Dalai Lama praised all the artists for their ability to “give joy and a message of love in this way” and he “urged people think realistically and to put effort into a ‘happy future journey.’”

Did Hills take that advice literally when creating his current “Happyism” show? Perhaps.

In this video interview of a radio appearance promoting “Happyism,” Hills first recalls being onstage with The Muppets in Montreal, and wanting to fill a room with joy like they do. Then, after the interviewer’s  observation that, “There’s so much negativity in life these days, there’s so much aggression,” Hills replies:

“Yeah, I think it takes an effort to be happy. I think you really have to dig deep sometimes and find a little bit of positive energy. And that’s kind of what this show’s about.”

Then he tells an expanded version of his experience in Perth with the Dalai Lama, calling him a “beacon of joy” and sharing His Holiness’ humorous, yet poignant advice. The whole interview’s a treat, and the bit about the Dalai Lama begins at 2:36:

Adam Hills will be touring “Happyism” throughout the UK and Europe from now to November. For a list of dates, click here.

For more on the Buddhism-and-comedy connection, see Rod Meade Sperry’s feature article in the November 2013 Shambhala Sun, coming soon and featuring Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Garry Shandling, the lat Mike Destefano, and more.

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