Andy's greatest adventure Andy's greatest adventure

Comedian Andy Lee on laughing his way through life – and why you should definitely NOT read any of his books.

If there’s one thing you should know about Andy Lee, it’s that he loves a good guffaw. “I like creating games out of absolutely everything and I’m also not fussed if things go wrong,” he says, chuckling. “In fact, when things go wrong, they’re the most exciting and funny times in life. That’s my little mantra to live by.”

It’s a strategy that’s served him well, whether he’s gallivanting around in a caravan with partner-in-crime Hamish Blake, hosting the hilariously divisive The Hundred on Channel 9, buying a dilapidated mansion with girlfriend Bec Harding – “it’s got no running water, no electricity, grass growing through the walls… and it’s full of possum poo and feathers, so we’ve got our hands full,” he muses – or writing a beloved kids’ series.

“It was meant to be one book only,” he explains, adding that a publisher friend agreed to run up a copy as a favour. “But my mate argued with me for about three months on whether to publish it. I’m glad he won because it’s been a great adventure.”

The Do NOT Open These Books series challenges kids to keep turning the page if they dare – and was originally created as a birthday gift for Lee’s nephew. “That’s why the little monster character is called Wizz, because I used to call George ‘Gee Wizz’. He tries to play just as many tricks as Wizz,” he says, smiling fondly.

The series has also received a slew of international awards, including Picture Book of the Year in Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Iceland and Japan. The reason? “Kids love doing what they’re told not to,” Lee says. “The bravery required to keep going and the risk-taking – these are all things that are important for kids, [especially] as kids these days are becoming more anxious and less inclined to take risks.”

As a kid, Lee was a bit of a risk-taker himself. The family would take frequent trips in their campervan, and he was always the one who wandered off. “Yeah, I quite liked going off on adventures,” he admits. “Mum had to pack a few sets of clothes if we ever went anywhere – I was always the first person to end up in a dam or in a mud patch or up a tree.”

Andy and Wizz

He credits his parents, who were both teachers, with instilling in him a taste for life and a love of the unexpected. They were also, unsurprisingly, quick to challenge him to think differently and come up with creative solutions. “I was pretty lucky as a kid to have a lot of time with my mum and dad,” he remembers. “They both loved challenging me for everything I asked. If I asked a question, it would be met with another question rather than just the answer.”

This lesson comes through loud and clear in the series. “The subconscious message of these books is it doesn’t matter, press on and things will be fine. Because that’s the way that I like living my life.” It’s this love of the unexpected – and being hilariously in touch with their inner children – that first brought Blake and Lee together at university in Melbourne. After more than 20 years, they’re still dreaming up ridiculous ways to keep everyone laughing, including themselves.

“We still pinch ourselves,” he says. “Our recipe is just keep having as much fun as possible and thankfully audiences are still enjoying it. But even if they don’t, I think Ham and I will still keep going in and doing idiotic things. We’ll have to tell our partners that we’ve still got a job even when people stop listening to us!”

When asked if reading his books is one of those “idiotic things”, Lee’s message is clear. “I would just say, definitely do NOT buy it. If you see it, make sure you bury it. Definitely do NOT seek out the box set or the latest one that comes out in September. And if you do happen to stumble across it, do NOT open it and do NOT turn the page!”


"The subconscious message of these books is it doesn’t matter, press on and things will be fine. Because that’s the way that I like living my life.""


More ways to annoy Wizz

More ways to annoy Wizz

Wizz HATES it when you read Lee’s books – but that’s part of the fun! Enjoy these extra ways to drive Wizz up the wall.

1. Read along with Andy Lee
Audio versions of the Do NOT Open These Books series, read by Lee, are available for free wherever you get your podcasts. “Do NOT download it, do NOT listen to it and definitely do NOT enjoy it,” says Lee.

2. Watch out for new formats
“I’m really looking forward to one day bringing the character into other realms, not just the books, whether it’s on the stage or on the screen,” Lee says. “That’s been a goal of mine that we’re going to sink our teeth into more in the coming years.”

3. Expect book nine in September
“When we meet with Heath [McKenzie, the illustrator] to go through the drawings, it’s always heaps of fun because generally I say to Heath, ‘No, I want Wizz looking like this’ and I do weird facial expressions – and he’s that good that he can just quickly draw it in the moment.”


Originally published in The Costco Connection, May/Jun 2023. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.