There is something quintessentially Australian about the performance style of Lawrence Mooney, but pinpointing precisely what is tricky. Like the qualities we equate with a true blue sense of humour, his brand of jocularity is riddled with contradictions: laidback and harsh, earnest and mean, loquacious and blunt, compassionate and misanthropic.
A favourite on the festival circuit, Mooney has had his foot in the pool of outside-the-scene celebrity for some time, and when the general bum-scratching Channel 10 viewing public get wind of him one gets the sense they’ll start asking what on Earth they found so funny about David Hughes and Anh Do. Mooney has some TV notches in his belt including gigs with Glenn Robbins and Denise Drysdale on Channel 7, appearances as a panellist on ABC’s The Einstein Factor, and – most impressively – reaching the finals of NBC’s reality TV show Last Comic Standing in 2007.
His 2011 comedy festival show is An Indecisive Bag of Donuts, a title linked to the narrative wrapped around 60 fast moving minutes of jokes and stories. The show begins and ends with Mooney asleep on the stage in a sleeping bag; when the audience arrive, the fuzzy-faced demon awakes from his slumber, scratches his nuts, and, clad in PJ’s, gabs about the need to stop procrastinating and write a comedy show.
The performance then diverts into loosely linked but smoothly segued bits largely related to family and day-to-day activities. Highlights include discussions about the “corridor of paedophilia” outside toilets at shopping centres, why it’s not a great idea to employ an Asian cleaner, old men who drive with their teeth instead of their eyes and a love affair with Nancy the broom. Innumerable opportunities for face expressions and physical comedy are strewn throughout, most memorably a vivid display of why men look horrible when they cry and how a dildo in an airless plastic bag can, with the right pair of eyes, be littered with subtle but striking nuances of post mod artistic rationale. Or something.
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The apparent ease with which this magnificent bastard recites consistently hilarious material must rankle the spirits of other thoroughly decent comedians who seem to work twice as hard for half the result. Chances are he will bring the house down and make audiences laugh so hard their faces will ache come the morn.
There’s a good reason why comedians around the Melbourne comedy circuit speak of Mooney with a tone that borders on the reverential; he’s one of Australia’s best and boldest, a ferocious farceur who makes great comedy look like a cakewalk.