Review: Lawrence Mooney in Lawrence in Suburbia | Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Last year festival favourite Lawrence Mooney pretended to struggle to write a comedy show in the self-reflexive rib tickler An Indecisive Bag of Donuts (winner of Crikey’s Best of the Fest award), an hour of comedy so good it deserved to be recorded, put inside an indestructible flying server drone and shot into space to secure its posterity lest humanity meet an apocalyptic punch line – and to demonstrate to any extraterrestrials what the former residents of Planet Earth meant by “great comedy.”
The rabble rousing raconteur returns, a high powered comedic mutant (to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson) too funny to live and too rare to die, to regale audiences with a nostalgia-tinged collection of stories and anecdotes about living in Australian suburbia.
Lawrence in Suburbia is an inwardly pointed This is Your Life, Mooney style, his memories enclosed in the packaging of a collective past, the kind in which audiences nod and smile and laugh and think “yeah, I remember that.”
Most of us recall buying mixed lollies for a couple of cents each (and, now he mentions it, how incredibly patient the man behind the counter was). All of us comprehend the jubilation that caresses our minds and arteries when we get a bonus potato cake from the fish and chips shop – and the righteous indignation that spews from our salty well-oiled mouths when we don’t.
There’s plenty of edgier, racier stuff too. As George Clooney might say, Mooney “drank the bong water.” It shows – and not just in his recollections of hazy university years, remembered as a whirlwind of booze, cones and drama class.
The segues are so smooth they barely exist, and a large part of Mooney’s exceptional skills as a comedian come from his innate ability to construct compact storytelling frameworks and pepper them with details. If you’ve seen this gladiatorial joke junkie before – and if you haven’t, correct that, stat – you’ll recognise his way of winning audiences over, cupping them in his palms then squeezing the marrow from their funny bones until they walk out at the end a collection of giggling, rudderless husks. Lawrence Mooney’s crowning achievement is to make the idea that somebody can die from laughing too hard actually seem plausible.
Lawrence in Suburbia is on Tuesday to Saturday at 8:15pm and Sundays at 7:15pm from March 29 – April 22 at Arthur’s Bar.
Luke Buckmaster also reviews films on Crikey film blog Cinetology.