Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable Interview
A Six-Part Series You Can Believe In!
The new adventures of intrepid sceptic and comic Lawrence Leung are revealed in a fascinating and fun series that investigates the unbelievable. It's Mythbusters meets Ghostbusters as Lawrence embarks on a mind-bending quest to examine the irrational and the impossible. With his curious, not so scientific research, and real-life experiments, Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable pokes fun at our own misconceptions and tests the limits of our beliefs. It's a six-part search for truth that you have to see to believe.Episode SynopsesPsychics
Wednesday June 15 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday June 16 at 9pm on ABC2
Do psychic powers exist? Lawrence encounters Australia's best psychic, an American who can drive a car blindfolded and ultimately transforms himself into a psychic to try to win a million dollars.Ghosts
Wednesday June 22 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday June 23 at 9pm on ABC2
Lawrence's investigation into the spirit world takes him on a thrill ride filled with spooky castles, Scottish ghosthunters, seances, spontaneous vomit and Patrick Swayze. But will he find a ghost? UFOs
Wednesday June 29 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday June 30 at 9pm on ABC2
From UFO hunting in Roswell New Mexico to launching his own unidentified object into the sky, Lawrence goes boldly where no man has gone before to make contact with aliens.Magic
Wednesday July 6 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday July 7 at 9pm on ABC2
Magicians are masters of deception, but how do you fool a master magician? Lawrence learns the tricks of the trade from Las Vegas magicians, pickpockets and neuroscientists on a quest to create the ultimate 'magician-fooler'.Manipulation
Wednesday July 13 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday July 14 at 9pm on ABC2
Lawrence presents a user's guide to how we are manipulated, persuaded and deceived without us knowing it. This episode features liars, cheats, poker players, undercover cops, and at long last reveals the truth about Joe the Cameraman.The Experiment
Wednesday July 20 at 9.30pm on ABC1
Repeat screening Thursday July 21 at 9pm on ABC2
Filmed with hidden cameras, Lawrence's final investigation tests the boundaries of rationality by confronting an unsuspecting individual with increasingly unbelievable experiences. Can Lawrence turn a sceptic into a believer? Lawrence Leung
describes himself as a 'reluctant sceptic'. He wants to believe in the unbelievable but the rational explanations keep getting in the way. Unfortunately, as a kid, his logical brain prevented him from ever believing in Santa Claus. Now as an adult, he's on a quest to uncover the truth and test irrational beliefs in a mysterious world.
Lawrence was last seen on our screens wrestling, breakdancing and Rubik's Cube-solving his way through the ABC TV comedy series Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure.
He has also penned stunts for two seasons of The Chaser's War On Everything and has performed stand up comedy in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe and the Sydney Opera House.
Outside of comedy, Lawrence majored in psychology, has designed illusions for theatre shows and has even lectured at an international magicians' conference. It is no surprise that he has always been obsessed with tricks of the mind and why we believe the unbelievable.
The series of Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable starts Wednesday June 15 at 9.30pm on ABC1. For more information see: www.abc.net.au/tv/unbelievable/
To take Lawrence Leung's mind reading experience go to: www.abc.net.au/tv/unbelievable/#/home/game
Interview with Lawrence LeungQuestion:
What is your latest series, Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable about?Lawrence Leung
: The latest show is called Unbelievable and it starts on June 15, on a Wednesday night. The show is a quest that I have to discover a few interesting truths about why the world is the way it is. I want to explore and look for answers in the world which is a little bit mysterious or cases that seem impossible. I look at psychics, UFOs, aliens, people who believe in ghosts and things like that. I get to visit haunted castles and I travel to Roswell in New Mexico where there have been alien sightings.
Unbelievable doesn't just look at the paranormal but also the everyday world like how people have tricks of the mind in terms of lying to each other and how to fake a sickie on the phone and make it sound convincing. I met a guy who is an expert on how to detect whether someone is lying by just looking at their body language and facial expressions. I also look at how magicians use their special skills to fool us, magicians are honest liars, they tell us that they're going to lie and deceive us and then they keep their promise.
The whole show explores games of perception and why we believe the things we do.Question:
What types of real-life experiments can we expect from the series?Lawrence Leung
: I conduct lots of social experiments looking at how our brains work and how we can fool ourselves into believing all types of things and at the same time I ask the question 'why do we believe these things?' Question:
Do you have a favourite episode from the Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable series?Lawrence Leung
: All the episodes are like my children, they're all my favourite episodes for different reasons. All the episodes are different and there is one that I particularly enjoyed because it was quite creepy and scary but at the same time really quite fun (laughing). There is another episode that was a little bit more dangerous and freaky like the time when a guy was driving me round the streets of Las Vegas, quite fast and I was conducting an interview with him - the difference was he was driving blind folded with coins over the gaps in his eyes - I survived, I'm still here today!Question:
The first episode explores psychic powers; prior to the taping did you believe psychic powers existed?Lawrence Leung
: I am fascinated by psychics and people who claim that they have powers because I don't have any psychic powers myself and as a kid I wanted to be a Jedi from Star Wars. I have an open mind but as a little kid I was very interested in science so I wanted to look at things from an objective point of view and whether psychic powers actually do exist, or not and made an episode about it.
I've met a lot of psychics and I really want to believe but sometimes I find they get a lot more wrong than they get right. The answer is still out there, I still need to do some more investigation to find out what is going on. Question:
Are you able to provide some insight as to how you go about designing illusions for theatre shows?Lawrence Leung
: I have designed illusions for my own shows and quite recently I did some for the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne for a show called Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd. Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd is a very strange sounding title and it is set in the 1920's era with magicians and all types of cool things. I had to design illusions that made people disappear through tabletops despite the fact that you could see under the legs of the table, Julia Zemiro could talk to her reflection and the reflection would talk back to her. I even designed an illusion where Julia Zemiro reached into a mirror and pulled out an object but the mirror never had any trap doors or any holes, especially when her hand came out the other side.
It was awesome because the script was written by this great, surreal playwright called Lally Katz who is a young writer and is absolutely fantastic; when I got the script it was full of such colourful and crazy imagination I thought 'how am I going to put this together?' Some of her ideas weren't in the magic world because she is not a magician and she didn't write knowing illusions so I had to make up my own methods to achieve these things whilst adding twists and turns to old classic methods and adapting them to Lally Katz's imagination.
I had a month to plan the illusions and then I wrote up all of my diagrams, sketches and ideas and collated them into an old-school 1920's magic book because I am a bit of a nerd and love detail. I made only four copies: one for the director, one for the production manager, one for the props department and one for myself. The director was so enthusiastic about the whole idea of the world of magic and secrecy that he only gave photocopies to the actors so they knew what they had to do so that everybody else didn't know how they did the tricks. It was all really fun!
I feel as if with YouTube, movies and special effects these days, people don't go out and see live performances or go to the theatre anymore. I do a lot of stand up comedy and it is one thing to see a comedy television show but it is another thing to see a comedian perform live. I just did a comedy festival show and it is interesting because when people see you live they say 'I can't believe this' and I always suggest that they go out and see more performances in the live world because they contain things you cannot do on television or on screen and it's a social experience to go out and see something you haven't seen before. Question:
Do you have a website our readers can visit?Lawrence Leung
: I am currently performing my comedy festival show around Australia and that's called Lawrence Leung Wants a Jetpack and you can see details at: www.facebook.com/lawrenceleungofficialpage
The television show involves all the games of perception that I am interested in, in the live world and I have used them in the show. I studied psychology, so I use a lot of that thinking to tackle the topics behind my television show.
Interview by Brooke Hunter