After 20 years of performing at the Comedy Festival, Lawrence Mooney is a safe bet for comedy fans of all stripes. This year’s show, Like Literally, sees Lawrence dealing with the idea of writing his own memoir, and wondering aloud whether anybody would read it. There are some questions about identity and mortality thrown in there, but the premise is mostly a pretence for Mooney’s well-crafted riffs and bits, which had the crowd belly-laughing from beginning to end.
There is some sufficiently pointed political material, but primarily the focus is on Mooney and his fraught journey towards adulthood. On stage, Mooney is something of a hyper-erudite Hughesy, switching effortlessly between fart and poop jokes, to extended recitations of Under Milkwood, to ponderous musings on the meaning of life, to simulating urethral dysfunction. In his riffing on hero moments, bedtime rituals and complex back operations, he plays the unleashed id of the suburban dad with glee and precision. Despite the broad content, the flow of Like Literally is seamless, even when Mooney’s beleaguered tech misses a lighting cue. “Are you going to give me my night-time lighting, or have you just completely lost interest in this show?” he quips, “You’re from Frankston, for fuck’s sake”.
If you’re a fan of the classic Aussie standup style, Like Literally is a surefire win; if you’re more of an alt-comedy person, you’ll still find plenty to love in Lawrence’s self-aware take on the comedian’s role. There are some bad taste jokes here and there, but they’re delivered so much enthusiasm that it’s hard to take issue with. Even if Lawrence never gets around to writing his memoir, he sure knows how to tell his life story on stage – Like Literally is a charming, conversational and ribald hour of comedy, and well worth the price of admission.
Like Literally is on at the Athenaeum Theatre until the 23rd of April, every night except Monday and Tuesday, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available online, at the venue or at the festival box office.