Josh Lawson is a man whose comedic bent has seen him regularly grace the “Thank God You’re Here” stage - with hilarious consequences. But there is more to Josh than the ability to think on his feet, as we are soon to find out when his triptych of short gems PLAYS: BY HIMSELF - Three short plays by Josh Lawson enjoys a season at The Old Fitzroy in December.
Josh says that the arts were something he always really wanted to do. His introduction to the industry came from his older brother, Ben Lawson (currently Frazer Yeats on Ten’s Neighbours), who was spurred on by a class-mate already in the business doing commercials. So when Josh was nine, the brothers Lawson began their acting careers when they acquired an agent.
It was in high school that Josh
began to write, in particular, writing songs, musicals and plays. He
firmly believes that acting and writing go hand in hand, hinting at the
fact that quite often the great actors are also great writers. Josh
has obviously kept up his enthusiasm for writing! His comic talent was
nurtured for three years while he studied acting at NIDA before he went
on to further study improvisation techniques and skills at The Second City and The Groundlings in Los Angles.
passionate about what he does and what he creates, he reflects fondly
on his creative process and those who influence him. When asked about
what it was like to first see his characters take breath he confidently
replied “I can’t remember a greater thrill in my career” finding the entire process exciting as well as inspiring.
draws heavily on his background in improvisation when writing,
beginning with a concept and speaking the dialogue as it comes. He
knows comedy well and is fascinated by the mechanics of it, the
preciseness of it, stating that “I’ve always been interested in the mathematics of comedy, that 3,000 people will laugh based on where that cough is placed” He also concedes that comedy is risky business and that “it is not enough to just say lines, you’ve got to make a choice and jump in boots and all”.
Josh cites his comedic influences as ‘the old boys of SNL’ (Saturday Night Live), the likes of Bill Murray, Steve Martin and the more recent SNL alumni such as Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and David Spade as well as Englishman Simon Pegg. He has a particular fondness for the Carl Reiner quote “A brilliant mind in panic is a wonderful thing to see”,
a quote which he sees as having direct reference to improvisation. His
writing influences are nothing short of the greats such as Arthur Miller, who he feels is “the best writer to ever put pen to paper” - also in tow are Tom Stoppard, Neil Simon and Woody Allen.
Armed with his knowledge of comedy, and the influence of his forbears it is little wonder Josh’s capacity to do comedy has culminated in PLAYS: BY HIMSELF - three short plays that have the ability to ‘delight even the most jaded theatre goer’. How might they do this? Simple. It's here that Josh
reveals his double-edged sword of writing, where the audience are
welcome to laugh, but should they choose to look closer, they will find
further meaning lurking below the laughs.
Finally, he talks
about what it’s like to hand over his work and leave it in the hands of
a director. Of his experience with the directors of PLAYS:BY HIMSELF he says “I love the synchronicity of writer and director working together” and reveals he had great faith in Tamara Cook and Toby Schmitz, who were entrusted with bringing his vision to the Old Fitzroy stage.
is a man who is snowballing to the fore of Australian comedy, which is
why it was a pertinent question to ask what we can expect from him in
the future. Without giving too much away, suffice to say that, it's a “Work in Progress”.
PLAYS: BY HIMSELF - Three Short Plays by Josh Lawson opens at The Old Fitzroy Theatre on the 1st of December, with previews on the 29th and 30th of November.