Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a busy man.
He’s dealt with scandals amongst his staff, visited America, along with the big task of leading Australia. Despite this, he’ll tour the country presenting his new show, ‘An Evening With Malcolm Turnbull’. The first question: why?
“Well, that’s easy,” Malcolm answers. “I’ve done everything in my life. My C.V. is full. I was a member of the bar, a barrister. I was a journalist. I owned my own bank. I was the head of Goldman-Sachs. I’ve become Prime Minister. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. And now, I’m going to be a TV star!”
Actor and stand-up comedian Lawrence Mooney’s impression of Malcolm is uncanny. His voice is refined, relishing every vowel and syllable spoken. Even Malcolm is impressed, remarking, “That’s a fair cop”. The impression began in 2014 while watching the ABC panel show 'Q&A'.
“Every Monday night I’d be standing in the middle of the lounge room screaming into the screen,” Lawrence says. “I just started repeating some of his phrases and playing with things that would sound good coming out of his mouth, like ‘far-are har-drant’ and ‘en-var-ren-ment’. My wife said, ‘I think you’ve got him’. He started to filter his way into my stand-up, and now he’s consumed it and I’m doing a show about him.”
Lawrence’s impression of Malcolm has been a fixture across the media, regularly appearing on Channel Nine’s 'Today Show' and Triple M, and was introduced by Sam Dastyari to the media on Budget Day. These appearances have poked fun at the leader, but in ‘An Evening With Malcolm Turnbull’, Lawrence goes deeper.
“He’s a mysterious man who’s dogged by dark roots. In the ‘ad breaks’, he goes into – or, I go into – very deeply pointed biographical stuff about Malcolm Turnbull that I found incredibly fascinating while reading about him. I suppose there are tasteless parts to the show, if you will, but it’s not just all me taking the piss out of Malcolm’s snootiness and his accent and his Liberal politics. He’s had an incredible life, and so I’m just trying to illuminate the audience.”
Along with his charm and demons, Lawrence breaks through the sophisticated exterior of Malcolm to reveal the darkness of what he describes as “an untamed animal”.
“What I’m trying to show is the façade of politics and our media. You hear this darkness, and you can see the audience gasping and asking, ‘Is that story f***ing true?’ And then the lights come back on and it’s like, ‘Welcome back to the show! Hope you’re having a terrific time! I am, and I think we’re getting to know one another a whole lot better’. And then they go off to a wine tour of Italy or he chats merrily to a guest or jokes about his last election campaign slogan. But behind power is a deal of darkness you’re a fool to ignore; you do so at your own peril.”
A self-described political junkie, Lawrence offers a lot of insights about the state of Australian politics, even offering a prediction which may be fruitful for him.
“I think Australians hate change, and if you are change, they’ll hate you. But once you become the status quo then they accept you. I think he’s actually tipped over into status quo as the Prime Minister of Australia and he’ll win the next election by more than the last one. If Malcolm wins, maybe there’ll be ‘An Evening With Malcolm, Part Two’.”
Lawrence Mooney Dates10-11 March – Brisbane Powerhouse (Brisbane Comedy Festival)
28 March-22 April – Athenaeum Theatre (Melbourne Comedy Festival)
4 May – Enmore Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival)