All joking aside

Lawrence Mooney, host of Dirty Laundry Live, will perform at Newcastle’s Playhouse Theatre on October 11.

LOVE them or hate them, we’re all obsessed to some degree with the lives of celebrities. And no one wears the badge more proudly than comedian Lawrence Mooney.

The stand-up comic, voice-over artist and host of Dirty Laundry Live on ABC2 is relaxed and candid when he speaks to Weekender from his Melbourne home, as he broaches politics, how to win over a crowd, and where you will find him when he comes to Newcastle.

“The nicest person I’ve ever met in high-stakes celebrity is Sandra Bullock,” Mooney says.

“Absolutely divine person. I said to her on camera, ‘I have been accused of wilting under pressure when meeting a famous celebrity’ and she said ‘well you’re doing fine just now, I like you’.

“I was like ‘oh God, oh God, oh God’. Very disarming. Very beautiful.”

Mooney laughs when he mentions another brush with celebrity – his involvement with short-lived reality show Brynne: My Bedazzled Life. Although it would be easy at this point to take a cheap shot at the expense of the over-the-top socialite Brynne Edelsten or her risque fashion choices, Mooney describes her as a wonderful person.

“It was a bit of fun really; just a couple of days in the recording studio, watching episodes over and over again,” Mooney says of his role in the show.

“You never see me. I just comment on Brynne’s life.”

In fact, Mooney doesn’t seem to take cheap shots at anyone – except himself and a certain federal education minister. We can only hope he does his impression of Christopher Pyne when he brings his show Lawrence Mooney Is a Stupid Liar to Newcastle’s Playhouse Theatre on October 11.

Mooney says he is looking forward to it.

“I love Newcastle,” he says.

“Darby Street is fabulous. There’s a good book shop, I love going to Goldbergs, and I’ve been to your art gallery and you’ve got an amazing array of indigenous art, too.”

It’s a good thing Stupid Liar doesn’t extend to statements made in interviews. The genesis for the routine came when Mooney was watching The Hangover with his wife and she remarked offhandedly that men get black-out drunk because they cannot handle reality and they are all stupid liars. A somewhat harsh reality check, it caused Mooney to examine the things he routinely lies about – like his gym membership, which he bought almost a year ago and has used only once, despite the fact they keep direct debiting him, and lying to himself about how much he drinks.

“I’d find myself on my second bottle of red on a Monday night standing in front of Q&A just screaming at the television,” Mooney said.

“If Christopher Pyne was on Q&A, I’d want to assault the television, so I thought no, that’s not good for you,” he says, drawing out Pyne’s second name to do a spot-on imitation of the politician’s nasal accent.

After briefly recapping his favourite heckle – from a room full of drunk, hostile football players where he was a fill-in comedian – Mooney says his favourite moment of comedy is the moment when he walks onstage and the crowd doesn’t know whether he is going to be funny or not.

“It’s nice that tension going out there; you see their faces full of anticipation,” he says.

“Then, the first time they laugh, it’s kind of a relief and it’s like ‘OK, we can trust this guy’. You’re a new sheriff just coming into town and you have to control things.”

He said after two decades of comedy, he has become more confident and capable on stage; able to divert from his set material and interact with the crowd, then return to it without confusing himself.

Then he stops with a laugh and says that’s probably too boring.

“I’m just funnier,” he amends.

“I’ve become 10 per cent funnier every year.”

This humour will come to good use when Dirty Laundry Live returns with a new season next year, on the main channel of ABC with a shorter time slot. Hopefully, the show will grant Mooney’s wish to interview two particular celebrities: Kim Kardashian and Jack Nicholson.

“I’d love to meet her and chat with her, because it’s a fascinating evolution of someone who’s incredibly famous without having done much,” he says of the former.

“It’s celebrity for celebrity sake – I’ve always found it quite interesting how people who are in the public eye have rules and regulations about what you can and can’t talk about.”

And of Nicholson, Mooney says he’d love to sit down for an hour and talk about everything.

“I just think that we’d get on OK together,” he says.

“That’s it. I’ve decided. So I’m not without my own self-belief and delusion.”