Mud sticks to Lawrence Mooney
Lawrence Mooney dishes the dirt on his new ABC2 show, and a few flops along the way.
The worst he can recall is a mention in a gossip column in a newspaper during his FM radio days, following a difficult break-up in his personal life.
“I’d dyed my hair blonde which I think is a real talisman that you’re crying out for help. I was spending a lot of late nights at Revolver (nightclub),” he recalls.
The newspaper teased, ‘A member of one of this city’s lowest-rating FM breakfast team, was seen at Revolver on Saturday morning falling asleep on various couches and stumbling around when really he should have been at home.’
“All I needed was a stalker and a sex tape.”
Celebs with much better war-stories are set to become guests on his new ABC2 comedy panel show, Dirty Laundry Live.
“We tackle the big celebrity stories of the week, having a laugh as we dissect them,” he explains.
“There’s one parlour game. Because it’s Live we can’t have too much moving around on the set.
“But if the conversation really explodes on one particular topic then we’ll stay on that topic.”
This week Sophie Monk joins Mooney and Brooke Satchwell plus guests drawn from an ensemble consisting of Marty Sheargold, Matt Okine, Tommy Little, Zoe Coombs Marr and Cassie McGrath.
“We’ve kind of followed the Qi model in that the quiz is secondary to the fun of the conversation and that we have a constant panel member, in Brooke Satchwell and hopefully an A-lister who can illuminate us on what it’s like to be misrepresented, talked about, followed, photographed,” he says.
“It’s Live. There’s no dump button, no delay, they are trusting Lawrence Mooney and it just ramps up the performance level and tension! Even the audience come to play when something’s Live.”
Lawrence, seen recently on ABC’s Paralympics coverage and Agony of Life, is pretty chuffed to have landed his own show.
“Let’s just get rid of the modesty. It’s been too long coming. You know that. I know that. And that’s why the buzz is on the street about this show.”
But success hasn’t come overnight. Nothwithstanding his stand-up comedy and radio, Mooney got his TV break on Seven’s midday show Denise (Drysdale) in 1999.
“I was second banana to Australia’s most famous second banana,” he recalls.
Then there was 3 years as a travel presenter on Postcards for Nine.
“It was what I would call a good ‘in between job’ where you’re gainfully employed and it’s lovely but you know that you’re headed somewhere else.”
Panel shows came calling: The Einstein Factor, Spicks and Specks and the ill-fated The White Room, also on Seven.
“If it had been on Aircraft Disasters they’d have said ‘The White Room’ should not be allowed to fly that night. It was not airworthy. There were inherent problems with the running gear. Namely, the network hated it! They hated it from the word go. I think they hated the fact that they’d allowed themselves to do it,” he insists.
More recently he has appeared on Agony Uncles, Comedy Up Late and the Warehouse Comedy Festival. Since his early days as a drug detector dog-handler for Customs, he has accrued 20 years in entertainment to become ‘an overnight success.’
“I’m the Eddie McGuire of ABC2,” he jokes.
“But I found a lot more drugs as a comedian than I ever did as a Customs Officer.”
Mooney says the primary sources of discussion on Dirty Laundry Live will be Woman’s Day, New Idea, Who Weekly, Hello, OK!, Famous and Heat, frequently trying to dissect truth from fiction. Mag editors will also be regular guests.
“The idea that these magazines are full of paparazzi shots is just not the truth anymore. Most of it is set up and the paps are invited around,” he says.
“But we all weigh into the quagmire together. Everyone has mud on them. The stars, the industry, the people who are talking about it, the readers, we’re all in the shit.
“NW can happily come along and say ‘Isn’t that good how we do that?’ or ‘No there’s a reason we do that. It’s what the readers want.’ So they can tell us why they do it, or lie about why they do it.
“But we’re not taking the position of the high moral ground, either. We’re opening those mags and enjoying the salacious goss as much as anyone.
“It’s not so much a Media Watch, but we will take a story that’s been front and centre and ask, ‘Where’s the veracity in this story?’”
Two comedians will also front pre-recorded showbiz interviews.
“To contrast with your Richard Reids, Nelson Aspens and Adam Richards, we’ve got very unique voices. Luke McGregor is a new young comic from Tasmania. He’s a very shy young man. And we’ve also got Ronny Chieng who is very forthright.”
The show is hoping to have a profile guest each week, and Sophie Monk was secured as the first cab off the rank with less than a week to go.
Having waded through the tabloid research, Mooney is now a lot quicker at knowing who’s-who.
“I’m 48 but I know a lot more about a big list of people that I didn’t previously know. Selina Gomez, Eva Mendez, Rita Ora, Jessica Alba…,” he admits.
“Jason Donovan would be good. I wonder what he’s doing now?”
Dirty Laundry Live airs 9:30pm Thursdays on ABC2.