Ready for her Closeup: we interviewed the Law School’s illustrious starlet and funny girl Laura View on rats, Chris Pine and her upcoming sketch comedy show, the Law Revue, Andrew Udovenya reports.
Rarely do we experience days which truly alter the course of our lives. Weddings, funerals, graduations, proposals- these are known to define us markedly. What one least expects is for such a moment to happen on a rainy afternoon on the doorstep of the Carlton residence of Laura View: the eminent-yet-elusive thespian queen of the Law School.
She sits me down on her sofa with a dewy grin, offering me “spinach and caramel fritters – Nigella’s” by way of fragrant explanation. Her slender neck is but a mast for the singular shell trinket strung about it: she is Ursula, and I am a helpless pike, floundering under her gaze. Her knotted hands caress a steaming pot of steeping Russian Caravan tea. A plum-coloured slip cascades down her comely form. Like the enigmatic arctic fox amidst the nether ice dunes, Laura’s habitat gives no answers to the questions which tirelessly swim in my- and many of my colleagues’- minds.
All anticipation has led me to this interview, and I am a handful of questions away from cracking into this sphinx-like woman.
Conscious of the time spent exchanging pleasantries, Laura promptly tilts her head and says “shall we begin?”, and with that mere gesture, my whole world would turn.
So Laura, tell us about yourself.
“I’m Laura View, of course. I’m the cool girl. The girl who’s hot, brilliant, and funny; quirky but academic; burps at least twenty times a day from an acid reflux problem but owns it; drinks cheap beer; never gets angry, but is always slightly annoyed; loves threesomes, that is, three of some things. Men love me, women hate me, and my cat loathes me.” She guffaws throatily, and adds: “Don’t pretend you don’t know already. The upcoming Law Revue is only a look into how I live my life, love my life and laugh my life.”
The Law Revue- what is it?
“Simply? A sketch comedy group.”
And less simply?
“Each year the Law Revue casts ten Unimelb students to write and act in a sketch comedy show” she recites. “It’s been running yearly for yonks. Being a part of the Law Revue gives law students an opportunity to forget about IRAC and flex their funnies. They write sketches every week that are reviewed and revised together as a team.”
She pauses to take a breath, and nods me to take another fritter.
“Once we’ve got a year’s supply of ART we edit! Edit! Edit! And choose approximately twenty five sketches to be a part of our stage show. This year is a bit different. We recently found out computers exist. We’ve decided to film! Film! Film! And see what happens. Tune in this October to witness the chaos!”
With those final words lingering in my ears, I press on.
Have you done this sort of thing before?
She leans in conspiratorially. “Hang out with a group of fun, like-minded people, sharing our innermost thoughts and encouraging each other to achieve our dreams? No.”
She continues, chuckling. “The Law Revue has been after me for years. They heard about my time performing for New Zealand’s Australian Defence Force back in ‘96. They were impressed. They wanted more. They pursued me. I had been approached about a role as a medical professional with a dirty secret in Asher Keddie’s upcoming biopic but COVID had delayed production. The Revue team was lucky enough to catch me in a moment of calm amongst the frenzy so here I am.”
You mentioned being a Unimelb student. You study law, yes?
Does the Revue complement your studies?
“The Law Revue sees law school. Acknowledges law school. Then slaps it in the face and fails contracts. It’s a love hate thing. It’s sex on the beach with a stranger at midnight. It’s staring deeply into the eyes of the DJ at Sircuit and willing them to play ‘Kiss the Rain’ by Billie Myers. It’s seeing an avocado at Woolies and knowing, without even squeezing, that this one will be perfect for a guacamole in two days. It’s a lot.”
The heady aroma of Russian Caravan tea underscores Laura’s passionate oration, and she mutters in a spaewife’s drone.
“It is true what they say – law is a theatre. There are plenty of opportunities for drama at law school, but fun, no, there is little room for that, and Law Revue gives some room for that. It is awfully refreshing having non-law students in the cast as after a while every law student turns into a goblin at Gringotts, diversity is needed, big time.”
By this point, her manic eyes focus on something I can’t see. I lean to align our perspectives, and the spell is broken. She glances at me, and says, simply:
“In the Law Revue you mainly laugh, in the JD you mainly cry- but either way it’s nice to feel something.”
So how then have you found the writing process?
“I’m what you’d call… naturally talented and gifted. My writing process was similar to all of the greats- Stephen King, Jaqueline Wilson, Dr. Seuss, you name it. Just last Tuesday I was watching an old rerun of Ben 10 and I came up with a sketch gem. I switched off the telly, somersaulted into my room, snorted a line of cocaine (got this neat trick from my ol’ pal Stephen), and got to work.
This year the writing and rehearsal processes have been completely turned on their heads and basically thrown out the window. Each week we meet over zoom and the cast present a new sketch for feedback from the group. Initially we were preparing these sketches as part of our usual 25-piece stage show but COVID heard about our plan and coughed on it. What was the sketch idea you ask? Well, it was a thirty-minute sketch of my cat and I sharing a can of tuna. It’s in the show. I checked with the directors myself.”
And the rehearsal process?
“Even though we did not have face-to-face rehearsals this year, it has definitely been pretty rewarding meeting every week to hear each other’s ideas and workshopping them. We are now in the last stages of the writing process and it is very exciting to see what will come out in the final production!”
Let’s talk about you.
Do you have any role models?
“I once dirty danced on a table-top with Malcolm Turnbull’s daughter Daisy. That same night Christopher Pine sat me down and told me of all the people he had judged in his seven years on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ I was, by far, the most provocative. Is that what you mean?”
What inspires you?
“Inspiration isn’t useful to me. To be inspired is to take someone else and think ‘hmmm maybe I should be like them’. For me, that’s just not applicable. Why would I want to be like someone else when I could be like me? I suppose in that sense I inspire myself. If you want to use that for the by-line that’s fine. I just coined it. It sounded quite good, don’t you think?”
Ok, then what terrifies you?
“Well that’s just not relevant. Men though, are terrified of me. I’ve been known to intimidate. I cannot help it. My best guess is it’s my looks, my aura, my sensuality. Men are uncertain how to approach me. They are scared of the knowledge that I am a constant object of the male gaze. And you know what? They should be. That new Carbie B song? I came up with the acronym.”
“However, if I HAD to choose,” she continued, “Rats. Slipping over after it’s been raining. Dying alone.”
What has been your favourite moment of the process so far?
“I think just switching on your comedy part of the brain and starting to observe the comedy that occurs every day around us. A reoccurring favourite moment of most rehearsals is when someone pitches a half-baked idea and everyone provides their own takes on where it should go, often snowballing into something absurd and hilarious. There’s some clever cookies in the revue with wild imaginations, it’s fun to witness the birth of a fully-formed-sketch.”
What’s been the most challenging?
“Political factionalism and in-fighting threatening my authority as director of the revue.”
Why is the law revue important?
“The Law Revue provides MLS with an opportunity to step outside its bubble, turn around, look back into the bubble and point and laugh at it. Law school can often take itself too seriously. There can be little room for ridiculousness for ridiculousness’ sake. I think we all need a bit of that in our lives.
While the Law Revue isn’t the only way to have a laugh at MLS it is certainly an incredible opportunity for students to hang out with their peers in a low-stakes, genuinely fun environment. For me, a lot of the sketch writing process has been looking at the world around me, thinking about what we generally take for granted, and then flipping an element on its head and seeing if the humour follows from that.
Law school is hard, and cases have serious, often devastating consequences for people. There is a sense that the abyss awaits at the end of the three years, and law revue sort of grounds you and gives you hope that not all is lost. To use the language of my younger, undoubtedly cooler peers, ‘them vibes just ain’t it fam’.”
What do we have to look forward to?
“There has been a lot of talk this year, in comedic circles, about the cast of this year’s Revue being the most talented selection of students this side of the Y2K scare. Now I cannot speak for the rest of the cast. In fact, I make it a rule not to speak to the rest of the cast. But as far as I’m concerned, the revue certainly hasn’t been witness to talent the likes of mine since Szubanski in ‘85.”
What’s your favourite soundtrack?
“I once slept with one of the two men who have access to Princess Diana’s tapes in full, unedited form. Keep this to yourself but I’ve heard them and let’s just say, I’m not legally allowed to stay overnight in Latvia, Croatia and parts of the former USSR.”
Can you do any impressions?
“Why impersonate when you can leave an impression instead?”
So, finally Laura. How are you spending your weekend?
“I’ll be attending the 84th Annual Royal Exhibition Show in metropolitan Brisbane. I have been asked by his honour Sir Clem Jones Tunnel to present the medals for Competition Show-Jumping and the Over 45s Wood Chop. Many people think the Royal Show has been cancelled this year due to social distancing concerns but in fact they’ve just limited it to allow only a few select royals and dignitaries to attend.”
With that, Laura stood. Mountainous yet slight, she swayed slightly and poured another cup of tea. Mine lay neglected and cold next to me. The interview was over. The next few minutes passed in a blur as I ruminated over this mercurial woman, who seemed so much more than just one cast member. The next thing I knew, I was on the doorstep, fritter in hand, and staring down the drenched footpath.
Where do I go now? How can I move on? In a world brimmed with uncertainty, all I know is one, irrefutable fact: The Law Revue will be in early October.
For updates, check law-revue.com or @thelawrevue on Instagram and @MelbourneUniLawRevue on Facebook.
Special thanks go to Peter Turner and Coco Garner Davis, and Darcy Powell, Laura McKenzie, Shruti Sudarsan, Sofia Skobeleva, Ella Bilton-Gough and Aram Geleris for introducing me to Laura.