Next week Lawrence Leung fulfills a life-long ambition. Not in getting his own ABC comedy series (although that’s pretty cool in itself) but in tracking down a childhood sweetheart and confessing his unrequited love.
Lawrence hasn’t seen ‘Angela’ since 4th grade, and now twenty years later he wants to locate her and share his feelings via a love song on his guitar. Who wouldn’t?
It’s but one of the adventures Leung, a 30yo comedian from Melbourne, will be pursuing in his debute ABC series. The 6-part comedy is produced by The Chaser team, with whom he has a close rapport.
“They’ve come and seen my live shows and really liked them,” he said. “I used to do a lot of stand up which was premise-testing, stunt based, satirical kinds of social experiments. When they were writing their War on Everything shows they asked me to write some stunts and then I ended up writing for them for a couple of years. It was good fun.
“And the ABC had seen my shows before as well so it wasn’t too difficult for them to imagine that style of storytelling on the screen. ”
But Leung’s style is far more laid back and anti-hero than the ambush comedy of The Chaser boys.
“It’s very whimsical storytelling,” he explained. “It’s very interesting when you look at Australian comedy, it’s always comedy of the ‘larrikin’ where someone takes the piss, or someone is a little bit more superior than who they’re making fun of. I thought about my own personality and how tell my own stories and thought ‘maybe I won’t make fun of other people.’
“I just put myself which are high risk and put myself into situations where I’m clearly not qualified to do, with things that I had dreamed of when I was a kid. Maybe the laughs will come at people laughing at me. So I’m making fun of myself rather than everyone else,” he said.
“It’s not so much me as the agitator in situations. I’m just ‘Joe Blow’ in a situation I’m clearly not familiar with. A fish out of water.”
Leung, who is the star, writer and creator, believes Australian comedy is noted for our ability to hold a mirror up to ourselves, noting that a number of successful comedians have got their start via the ABC.
“A show like mine probably wouldn’t start on some of the more commercial networks,” he said. “I don’t know whether they would take the risk on something which is so peculiar and idiosyncratic, a hybrid type of show. ABC’s got that great tradition of experimentation and giving all these different types of voices a go. I think it’s wonderful.”
In later episodes Leung will tackle being a Rock Star, A Man, World Champion and Becoming Cool.
Across the series this self-confessed ‘child of the ’80s’ will also be tackling the Rubik’s Cube, visiting the US, writing a love song with Tiffany, learning to breakdance from Shabba-Do from Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo and shooting several scenes with his own mother and father, Hong Kong born ‘Doris and Leo’ (he’s worried they will upstage him!).
“”My parents are awesome!” he laughs. “I think they are going to be stars out of this.
“And I searched around trying to find MacGyver. I was also trying to find ‘Data’ from The Goonies but I couldn’t find him.”
In any case his unabashed nerdy humour is is sure to speak to children of the 80s, and a few more besides.
“The show is about me and my character so whether people like the show or not depends on whether they want something that is aggressive and over the top, or whether they like someone who is quite human and has insecurities.”
Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure premieres 9:30pm Wednesday Mar 25 on ABC1.