FUNNY BUSI­NESS

Com­edy can be a nasty busi­ness, as Mick Mol­loy re­veals in his new pay- TV se­ries The Jesters. He took Guy Davis be­hind the scenes of the show. Mol­loy: ll “ This hi does a crack­ing job of re­veal­ing the seedy un­der­belly of the com­edy in­dus­try. Be­lieve me, n

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FEATURE -

Mick Mol­loy may have done him­self a mis­chief. In the open­ing scene of the new pay-TV com­edy The Jesters, in which he plays a leg­endary co­me­dian over­see­ing the TV de­but of an up-and­com­ing gang of pranksters ( any re­sem­blance to The Chaser is prob­a­bly no co­in­ci­dence), Mol­loy’s char­ac­ter runs the me­dia gaunt­let, trot­ting the same old one-lin­ers in re­sponse to the same old se­ries of ques­tions.

It’s scar­ily ac­cu­rate , and one can’t help but won­der if Mol­loy him­self is run­ning on auto pi­lot as he spruiks The Jesters.

“ It is kind of true to life, that scene,” said Mol­loy. “ That’s pretty much how th­ese things work – you spend three days trav­el­ling around the coun­try, speak­ing to many diff er­ent peo­ple, and you have to get the same in­for­ma­tion out. So it’s very hard to keep it fresh and new. But I al­ways try to make sure some­one gets some­thing orig­i­nal … and I’ll let you know when that oc­curs!”

You can ac­tu­ally count on Mol­loy to be straight-up about the state of things – he’s pleas­ingly can­did and charm­ingly self-dep­re­cat­ing about the highs ( The Late Show, Crack­er­jack) and lows ( The Mick Mol­loy Show, The Na­tion) of his ca­reer as an ac­tor, co­me­dian, writer and pro­ducer, not to men­tion his newly-gained sta­tus s as an elder states­man – well, semi-elder states­man – of Aus­tralian com­edy.

“ Some­times kids will men­tion they’ve liked some­thing I’ve done, and I’ll won­der ‘ How the hell did you see that?’” he laughed. “ Their dad has ob­vi­ously blown the dust off some Late Show DVD like it’s a fam­ily heir­loom.

“ But one of the most grat­i­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ences I ever had on a set was when I was work­ing on Crack­er­jack – there were 500 years of act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on that set, less than one of which I brought to the ta­ble!

“ Ju­dith Lucy and I used to ques­tion Bill Hunter and Frank Wil­son and Mon­ica Maughan all the time; it was a non-stop source of in­spi­ra­tion for us.

“ And to a much lesser ex­tent, the guys on The Jesters were kind of the same. They were aware I’ve been around for 20 years, whereas they’re just get­ting crack­ing. So they had that same kind of wide-eyed sense that I had some wis­dom to share. Or not.”

Upon re­ceiv­ing some “ hi­lar­i­ous” scripts for The Jesters, it didn’t take Mol­loy long to sign on to play blunt, straight-talk­ing com­edy men­tor Dave Davies. And the fact that he recog­nised the char­ac­ter pretty much in­stantly kind of sealed the deal.

“ I clearly knew the char­ac­ter they wanted me to look at,” he said. id “ Not N to put too fi ne a point on it, he’s ba­si­cally this age­ing show­biz a.... hole! So I got the drift, and I thought it was within my lim­ited reper­toire.”

Ah, but Mol­loy’s not that kind of per­son, right? So clearly he had to draw upon some real-life fi gures from the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try for in­spi­ra­tion, huh?

“ This is the ques­tion where I re­spond: ‘ There’s no one specifi c per­son who in­spired this. It’s kind of an amal­ga­ma­tion of peo­ple I’ve met in the busi­ness’,” said the sly Mol­loy.

“ The show has clearly been writ­ten with great know­ing of the in­ner machi­na­tions of TV net­works and pro­duc­tion houses, so it would be wrong to sug­gest that I’m play­ing any one par­tic­u­lar per­son.

“ But there is a real cow­boy men­tal­ity at cer­tain lev­els of the busi­ness, es­pe­cially at the com­mer­cial net­works: ‘ If I keep thump­ing this desk long enough and hard enough, ev­ery­thing will mag­i­cally get done.’ It’s not ar­ro­gance so much as a very ag­gres­sive at­ti­tude. I’ve come across that on many oc­ca­sions and I think Dave Davies has a fair bit of that. But I don’t like to name names. This is a very small town and I need to keep work­ing.”

And if re­sponse to The Jesters is pos­i­tive, he may well be repris­ing his role as Dave Davies in a sec­ond sea­son of the show. Af­ter all, there’s plenty of dirt yet to be dished when it comes to the busi­ness of be­ing funny.

“ That’s true!” said Mol­loy. “ For any­one who has won­dered what it’s like when the cam­eras aren’t rolling, this does a crack­ing job of re­veal­ing the seedy un­der­belly of the com­edy in­dus­try. Be­lieve me, no one’s laugh­ing back­stage.”

Naughty boys: Mick Mol­loy plays Dave Davies, the creative force be­hind a new satir­i­cal show star­ring fl edgling co­me­di­ans played by ( inset, from left) Chris­tian Bar­ret­tHill, An­drew Ryan, Ben Guerens and Travis Cot­ton.

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