“If you’d ever told me I would work with Kerri-Anne in a dramatic partnership I’d have said you’re mad,” insists Mick Molloy.
But in Season Two of Movie Extra’s comedy series The Jesters that’s exactly what he does.
Playing an ex-comedian turned TV mentor of a team of rising young satirists he gets to work with a number of real life personalities who are happy to play themselves, including Kerri-Anne Kennerley.
“It was like the Bogey and Bacall of comedy. She was fantastic. We were filming in the country in sub-zero conditions and it didn’t matter how bad it got she always looked immaculate,” he says.
“The number of celebrities who play themselves and also pull the p*ss on themselves is quite encouraging, I think. It shows there is a general goodwill out there.”
This season’s guests include Glenn Robbins, Wil Anderson, Chas Licciardello, Dicko, Ian Turpie, Mikey Robins, Brooke Satchwell, Ross Noble, Phillip Adams and Steve Vizard.
“Bill Kerr is one of the most celebrated actors in Australian movie history, so that was an awesome occasion. There were also a lot of stand-up comics playing themselves too, so that was fun,” he says.
“But guys who have spent a lifetime ‘being themselves’ have to work out how to play themselves, which is a big step up. I know that sounds crazy.”
Molloy says The Jesters joins part of a growing genre of behind the scenes TV, led by such shows as 30 Rock or The Larry Sanders Show.
“It’s part of that genre where the world that is created is borderline realistic where it can be populated with real people playing themselves. It was great fun to walk in and one day I’m doing a scene with Kerri-Anne, next day it’s Barry Otto, Barry Crocker, Graeme Blundell,” he says.
“The guys had a much easier time getting people to come on board than season one, when people were a bit suspicious of it.”
The roles of The Jesters are again played by Andrew Ryan, Ben Geurens, Christian Barratt-Hill and Travis Cotton. Susie Porter returns as the Network Executive,Emily Taheny as their Producer while Deborah Kennedy resumes her hilarious scenes as the agent of Dave Davies.
Molloy has numerous scenes with Kennedy, filmed as long lunches with Sydney Harbour as the backdrop.
“I’m blown away by how many people cite those scenes as their favourites,” he says of Kennedy.
“She’s extraordinary. It’s great to do scenes with her because all of a sudden you feel safe. I’d think ‘If I can get anywhere near her level I’m not making a d*ck of myself.'”
There are 8 episodes written and produced by Angus FitzSimons and John Brumpton. Molloy says audiences will recognise several ‘ripped from the headlines’ plots.
“There are a couple of obvious allusions as to what was happening on the TV landscape. The Nazi episode is clearly a parallel of The Chaser‘s ‘cancer kiddies’ sketch and the furore that blew up,” he says.
Molloy is more than familiar with controversial comedy, last year landing in hot water for jokes made about skater Johnny Weir during the Winter Olympics.
“Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I’ve been involved in a number of controversies, most of them deserved, but that one came out of nowhere,” he insists.
“What I do if people bring it up is I say, ‘That’s interesting, tell me what is was that I said that was homophobic?’ And no-one can do it. No-one can tell me what the furore was originally about.”
Molloy is also set to return to Before the Game, the AFL show producing by Roving Enterprises for Network TEN.
“I just love that show,” he smiles.
“You only have to know the name Ben Cousins, you only have to know what the St. Kilda Football Club is in trouble for, or who Brendan Fevola is, and that’s kind of what we’re talking about.
“We never get into stats, or who’s chance is of beating who. We’re an entertainment-based show.
“It’s also an antidote to the other shows which are compered by footballers who speak with knowledge about the game. We’re just nutty fans.”
He has also written another film script with brother, Richard.
“We’ve written a film but we’re not going to press the button on it yet because we’re still ironing out a few wrinkles,” he says.
“I think it’s a big one that I can’t really get into while I’ve got these other bits and pieces on. I think we’ll start looking at that around the end of the year.”
Meanwhile his gig on The Jesters was easy to slip in between other commitments including his current radio alongside Eddie McGuire.
“Normally I write and produce, but here I’m just a hired gun but it’s absolutely lovely. It’s all care no responsibility.
The Jesters premieres 8:30pm Tuesday on Movie Extra.