Funny guy Lawrence Mooney had just got out of a meeting with ABC when our editor Samantha Morris spoke to him. He said they were planning a special New Year’s Eve special. But that’s all he could say.
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“I can’t say exactly what it is,” he said. “But my bit’s going to be funny.”
Just as well, people have high expectations from this award-winning comedian. In fact one story I read before the interview called him articulate, intelligent, fascinating, entertaining, humble and honest – all in the one paragraph.
I read that paragraph out to Lawrence and he laughed. “As written by Lawrence’s mum,” he said. “How does one respond? I concur whole heartedly? False modesty is a bit annoying. I’d like to think all those things are true to an extent.”
Lawrence has been performing stand-up comedy for 20 years now, so it’s no surprise he has such a wonderful track record. I asked him whether he ever thought he’d be able to make a living as a comedian.
“I didn’t really envisage it,” he said. “It was kind of like on my wishlist, if you like, you know I’d love to be able to make a living from doing this. If I can make a living from doing this, I’d be happy.”
“As it transpires, I can and I am happy. I’m a happy person.”
“But of course there’s a conflict between my public persona and secret persona,” Lawrence told me.
Wow. Secret persona. I ask him to tell me more.
“Well, that’s a secret.”
The last job Lawrence had before he became a ‘real’ comedian was as a window cleaner, cleaning high-rise windows.
“1998,” he said. “The following year, I got a gig on Channel 7, on the Denise Show.”
“High rise window cleaning is fun,” Lawrence said. “It’s one of those jobs where you go and you work and you an see the results. You go home satisfied.”
We talk for a while about how hard it is to convince your parents that giving away a job with a tangible outcome like like clean windows is hard when you’re making the move to something like comedy.
“They were just waiting for me to fail,” he said of his family. “That’s over.”
“Though we do live in a precarious industry, you’re always at some extent standing on a precipice looking into the abyss.”
“You have to keep being funny or you have nothing and you know what,” he asked? “In the past years, I have pretty much ignored personal development.”
Fortunately, that abyss isn’t looking too deep for Lawrence. While his show Dirty Laundry Live hasn’t been 100% confirmed for next year, he’s feeling quite confident.
“The word is that Dirty Laundry Live will be on ABC next year, not ABC2. We’re being moved over to the big kids in the second half of 2015.”
It’s at this point in the interview I feel compelled to make a confession. I’ve never seen the show. In fact, I don’t even have a television. Thankfully Lawrence is happy to tell me all about the show. It’s effectively an opportunity for a panel to take the piss out of celebrities, right?
“Our primary sources are famous, yes,” he said. “Who, Women’s Day, New Idea, Buzzfeed,” he rattles off a long list of celebrity news sites. “We take the story that everyone’s talking about and pull it to pieces.”
“It’s basically a weekly comic dissection of how celebrities are reported and how they participate in the whole game.
I’m not much of a celebrity news consumer, so I ask Lawrence about his favourite content. I sense that it’s hard for him to settle on one or two examples, but he does.
“Todd Carney and the bubbler,” he said. “The Cronulla Sharks rugby league player who was photographed by a friend trying to piss in his own mouth.”
“His phone got lost and the photo got leaked. And it was like, what, it’s just a rugby league player trying to piss into his own mouth – why is everyone so angry?”
Then there’s Kim Kardashian. “She’s doing a service for women who have shapely bums all over the world,” Lawrence tell me.
“We’ve been sizest about bottoms. Thanks Kim. You’ve got your dacks off, oiled your botty up and doing everyone a favour.”
But back to the live stand-up routine. Lawrence has just been to Queensland as part of his Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar show. And his next trip to Queensland sees him at Jupiters as part of their Laugh Your Pants Off series. He’ll be joined by Judith Lucy, Peter Rowsthorn, Troy Kinne, Ellen Briggs, Tahir, Ronny Chieng, Steve Allison and Jennifer Burke.
“What a lineup,” he said. “We all get up and do ten minutes each. It’s like the Whitman’s Sampler of comic treats.”
And that’s something, coming from a man who’s performed at 18 comedy festivals, and won a bunch of awards including two Barry Awards and the 2011 Best Comedy for Melbourne Fringe Festival and 2013 Best Comedy at Perth Comedy Festival.
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Lawrence hits The Arts Centre Gold Coast’s Basement on 2 January and joins his funny buddies for Laugh Your Pants Off at Jupiters Casino on Friday 23 January 2015.