A little known by-product of an early-80s musical education is a little bit of gayness, Adam Hills says.

He should know. His boyhood love of Adam Ant’s make-up and his early obsessions with now-gay pop stars are regular TV topics, thanks to his hosting gig on the ABC’s music trivia show Spicks And Specks.

I think I grew up in an era with that whole Sensitive New Age Guy thing -“ that’s finally gone by the wayside, thankfully -“ and the remnants of that is we’re all at least a little bit gay, he says.

And I’m more than happy with that. I’m surrounded by gay people. The comedy industry is gayer than a treeful of robins.

Hills has come a long way, he admits. As a teenager in an all-boys school he remembers, embarrassingly, standing up in front of his class and arguing against homosexuality.

A lingering sense of shame and a comedic idol’s outing made him change his ways.

I was a huge fan of Kenny Everett and, when he announced he had AIDS and came out, I suddenly had to look at myself, he says.

He was a comedian that I really, really adored, and I thought maybe if I became a comedian up on stage I could change the opinions of some ridiculous outspoken 15-year-old. It has really led me to a career where I can try and speak out for gay rights when I’m on stage.

Hills says his Spicks And Specks gig has increased the numbers of seats in the venues he was already filling as a stand-up comedian. At this Fringe, he’s filling a 600-seat theatre instead of a 350-seat one. This week he performs his new show Characterful at @Newtown as part of the Cracker Comedy Festival.

Increased profile aside, Hills says working on Spicks And Specks has been a blast.

It’s just really nice, he says. It’s an ABC show but it’s not a specifically ABC audience. We get a lot of people watching because they love their music, and a lot of people watch it because they love their comedy.

Adam Hills’s Characterful is on at @Newtown from Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 March. Bookings: 9550 3666 or at the Cracker Comedy Festival website.

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