Lawrence Leung is a familiar face. He’s graced the screen a few times for his pranks with the Chaser’s War on Everything and on Channel 10′s Offpsring, but it’s his wit and unique brand of comedy that makes him so memorable.
Hi Lawrence, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?
Currently I’m working on a few side projects, short film and TV appearances that may pop up a bit in 2017. Can’t say too much now. Sorry.
We saw you’re one of the Archibald finalists, did you sit for that portrait? Do you think it’s captured you pretty accurately?
I sat for the portrait for about two hours in front of talented artist Dean Manning. I think he’s captured the whimsical geek in me quite well. It was a strangely meditative experience as the room was so quiet and I had to be so still. There was no talking. I like to think of it as taking the longest selfie.
In that portrait you are surrounded by a few objects, including aliens, are you a believer or non-believer?
Ha! There’s probably life of some sort at least somewhere in the universe. Whether they have visited Earth, well, that’s just science fiction for now. I guess it’s hard to search for intelligent species out there when we’re still grappling to find it down here.
So we know through your career you also wrote pranks for Chasers, what was your best prank on the show and then just in general?
Wow, it’s hard to choose between them. I wrote plenty of skits that were satirical and politically-savvy. But in the end my favourite ones were always the stupid dumb ideas, like dragging massive 2m-high buckets of popcorn into a cinema and sitting in the front row or medieval knights in armour trying to get through security detectors.
The best thing about writing pranks for other people is that I don’t have to do personally perform pranks myself and face any consequences. Perhaps that’s the best prank of all.
Looking through your impressive catalogue it seems like you’ve tried your hand at most things in the industry, what’s been the biggest challenge for you? Are you someone who likes to forever push the boundaries?
I feel lucky that comedy is a genre not a medium. It means I can slide back-and-forth between TV, stage, filmmaking, radio and podcasts. The biggest challenge whenever I do a new project is self-doubt: will this work? My aim is not so much about pushing boundaries, but rather keeping myself open to learning new ideas and trying different challenges. Then again, when it all goes south, you can always win them back with a dumb poo joke.
Limits in general are a pretty challenged thing with comedians, do you think there’s a “line” in comedy and who do you think makes it?
The genre of comedy follows the preoccupations in culture of the time – in fact it’s usually a bit ahead in terms being the first in asking questions of society, pointing out absurdity, challenging injustices and pisstaking of authority. Personally, I think comics can make jokes about any topic. The question then becomes one about tone and who is the target of the joke, that is: are you “punching up” or “punching down”? Making fun of people less fortunate than yourself is almost never as funny, clever or impactful as going for harder targets.
You actually studied psychology at uni, when was the moment you realised you wanted to make the jump officially to comedy?
It was a gradual switch. Or to put it another way, my interest in my studies started slipping as my addiction to performing pubs and clubs grew.
We read a quote that you like to create the things you want to see and hope others appreciate it too, what would you like to see next in the industry?
I think technology has really made comedy more accessible for both audiences and creators. It’s great how every comic and their cat is making a podcasts. It’s great that a new breed of content makers are using YouTube to make webseries and sketches. I like to see the comedy industry foster more collaboration, mentorship and embrace more varied voices to get up and tell their stories and split peoples sides. I really am keen to see what happens next.
You’ll be heading to Ballarat to perform a show Friday night, and having done the RAW Comedy comp, how do you find performing in the regional areas?
I love it! I love travelling to different places and meeting new audiences. Actually, the Archibald Art Exhibition is also in Ballarat when I’m there. So there are two Lawrences in Ballarat this week. I might visit the gallery and heckle myself.
Thanks again for chatting with us, any last words of wisdom you’d like to add for our readers?
Take your work seriously, but not yourself seriously.
Lawrence takes the stage at the BallaratCat Comedy night at the George in Ballarat alongside Ben Lomas, Jonathan Schuster and Joe Shaffer tonight (Friday, November 4). Get your tickets and more info via the website.