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
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.