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April 13, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Lawrence Mooney: An Indecisive Bag of Donuts (review)


Published 12/4/11 at artshub.com.au

There’s something curiously comforting about seeing Lawrence Mooney’s An Indecisive Bag of Donuts. It may be the enticing image of fat-laden donuts, but it’s probably also closely related to the fact Mooney knows what he’s doing.

In a concise, well-structured and cleverly thought-out production, Mooney spends the entire time in his PJs. Great for production value costs, and fortunately entirely relevant to his theme. Mooney quickly establishes himself as a perfectionist and professional procrastinator, one who finds it more important to sort CDs alphabetically than write his comedy festival show. He’s someone who is so refined at the art form of stalling that even his self-help, pro-self-flagellation guru says his to-do list is too long. And by this guru’s rules, he must therefore suck at everything. We follow Mooney’s typical day; he is supposed to be writing, instead diddling it away by fastidiously cleaning, spending a great deal of time extolling the virtues of vacuum-packing and somehow finding time to create impressionistic art from a dildo and a plastic bag. I may just be imagining things, but penis jokes seem to be the mandatory comedy du jour nowadays. Fortunately it’s not the only thing you’ll be seeing Donuts for.

What is most striking about this show is its comic politeness. There’s a dildo, yes, and the sleazy threat of a vacuum cleaner, a brief brush over alcoholism, haemorrhoids and a great one-man rendition of bogan sex. But none of it involves the type of punchline that makes the audience squirm. In fact, it seems to be the very absence of those painful one-liners that makes it genuinely funnier, augmented by Mooney’s semi-psychotic grin as he leaps from psycho-analysis to a guy inadvertently tickling his dog’s penis. He exudes the kind of frenetic energy most commonly seen in prisoners who are about to get knocked off in TV shows. While Mooney didn’t seem at all nervous, his mood fed into the procrastinator/perfectionist theme threaded through the show.

The structure of the show is also carefully engineered, but not painfully so. It’s done cleverly enough that the flow of his story itself becomes a prop for comedy, allowing for well-timed leaps between past and present. Mooney is also quite comfortable on stage, moving about with the energy and apparent vigour of someone used to theatre, even though it’s hard to classify comedy strictly in that fashion.

Mooney admits he’s a perfectionist; in respect to the construct of his show, that much is evident. Donuts is a show that is well-paced, rarely sags and somehow manages to have the right blend of toilet-based buffoonery and intelligent comedy without taxing an audience’s patience with one or the other.

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