He began performing as a stand-up comedian in 1989 at the age of 19, and since 1997 has produced ten solo shows which have toured internationally. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Montreal Just for Laughs festival, earning three consecutive Edinburgh Award nominations for his Edinburgh shows in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
In 2002, he scored a minor hit in Australia with his single "Working Class Anthem", in which he sang the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem to the tune of "Working Class Man", a song by Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes.
Hills first appearance in comedy scene was in 1989 at the Sydney Comedy Store. He did breakfast radio on SAFM in Adelaide besides stand-up gigs, and by the mid-1990s he decided to focus on live comedy. In 1997 he premiered "Stand Up and Deliver", the first of 10 solo shows, all of which have toured internationally. He has travelled widely, performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Montreal Just For Laughs festival. He has been nominated for three consecutive Edinburgh Comedy Awards for his 2001, 2002 and 2003 solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The title of his 2001 show, "Go You Big Red Fire Engine", was coined during a 1999 performance in Melbourne. Hills asked an audience member to yell his name to the audience and for the audience to yell it back, but instead the man yelled "Go you big red fire engine!" The phrase quickly became an audience chant, and Hills promised he would make it the name of his next show because, he says, "it was such an uplifting and genuinely silly moment." "Go You Big Red Fire Engine" later became the name of a second stand-up show and a comedy album; it also appeared in a Detroit newspaper, on a Swedish website and was yelled by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja in the Australian Parliament.
His artificial right foot is commonly used as a source of humour in his shows and the comedian has been known to remove it and pass it around. However, Hills had been performing live comedy for over a decade before he made reference to his prosthesis on stage, and it was only after "Go You Big Red Fire Engine" was nominated for a Perrier Award in 2001 that he began incorporating it into his act. Hills says he felt he could too easily have become a novelty act and that he "didn't want to be known as the one-legged comedian ... I wanted to prove myself as a comic before talking about this."
Hills regularly performs alongside Leanne Beer, an AUSLAN sign interpreter at his festival shows, a move sparked by a performance he did in Adelaide at a disability art conference. An interpreter had been provided at the show, and Hills found that it not only allowed the deaf audience members to enjoy his material but was also an entertaining and fascinating experience for the hearing audience members. "Now I have hearing people who will only book [for sign interpreted shows]", he says.
Hills is best known in Australia for his role on the music trivia show Spicks and Specks, which he hosted from its premiere in 2005. In late 2007, he joined the show on a national live tour dubbed the "Spicks and Speck-tacular", with appearances in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle and Perth. In late 2011 and early 2012, the show hit the road again for Spicks and Speck-tacular – The Finale, appearing in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Wollongong, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne. He has also made appearances on Australian shows Rove Live, The Glass House and The Fat, as well as the British Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week and Ask Rhod Gilbert. Additionally he appeared on the first TV edition of BBC Northern Ireland's Great Unanswered Questions. He conducted backstage interviews at Australia's 2005 and 2006 Logie Awards and was one of three presenters at the 2007 awards.
In September 2008, Hills co-hosted the ABC coverage of the 2008 Summer Paralympics.
In July 2009, Hills appeared in Thank God You're Here; he also appeared on Good News Week.
Hills presented his own weekly talk show, Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight, on the ABC from early 2011. In 2012 it was renamed Adam Hills Tonight and ended with its third season finale on 31 July 2013.
In 2012, he was part of the UK Channel 4 TV commentary team for the London 2012 Summer Paralympics, and hosted a daily alternative review of each day's events, The Last Leg, with Alex Brooker and comedian Josh Widdicombe. The Last Leg was renewed for seven episodes in 2013, then extended to nine episodes, beginning on 25 January 2013. As of October 2015, 66 episodes have been shown. Hills hosted the panel game Monumental for BBC Northern Ireland in 2013.
In August 2013, it was announced that Hills would present a special one-off revival episode of Channel 4's quiz show, Fifteen to One. This was aired on 20 September 2013, as part of the channel's 1980s-themed Back to the Future weekend of programmes. He was credited under the name "Adam C. Hills" in a tribute to the original presenter, William G. Stewart. In 2014, Hills will return to present four more celebrity specials; a full daytime series will be hosted by Sandi Toksvig.
In August 2013, Hills set viewers of The Last Leg a challenge to see if they could get away with editing his Wikipedia page and filling it with misinformation. This led to some short-lived vandalisation of his page as well as vandalism on the pages of his co-hosts Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, and also several guests who appeared in later shows of that run – most notably that of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
In 2016, Hills voiced Buddy Pendergast in Thunderbirds Are Go.
In 2002, Hills released a single titled Working Class Anthem, in which he sang the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem, "Advance Australia Fair", to the tune of "Working Class Man", a famous song by iconic Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes. Around 40 comedians contributed to the song, which made the independent top 10 in Australia. All proceeds went to the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, an organisation supported by Barnes and Jon Bon Jovi that supports firefighters. Hills has performed the song several times on television, including a performance honouring Barnes' guest appearance on Spicks and Specks.
Between 2003 and 2005, Hills wrote as a columnist for the BBC's disability website Ouch!.Stand Up and Deliver (1997)
Life Is Good (1998)
My Own Little World (1999)
Goody Two Shoes (2000)
Go You Big Red Fire Engine (2001) – Perrier nominee
Happy Feet (2002) – Perrier nominee
Cut Loose (2003) – Perrier nominee
Go You Big Red Fire Engine 2: Judgement Day (2004)
Mess Around (2010)
Mess Around (2011)
Adam Hills Stands Up Live (2012)
Clown Heart (2015)
Hills was born in the southern Sydney suburb of Loftus. He developed an interest in comedy after discovering an inflight comedy channel on a plane at the age of eight. Hills was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis, which has become a frequent source of comedy in his act. He studied for a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) at Macquarie University, graduating in 1991.
In December 2009, Hills married opera soprano Ali McGregor. They have two daughters.