FUNNY BUSINESS

FRANK WOOD­LEY BRINGS THE LAUGHS TO JUPITERS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SHAN­NON HAR­VEY

O ne of Aus­tralia’s most gifted phys­i­cal co­me­di­ans, Frank Wood­ley was born on leap day – Fe­bru­ary 29 – in 1968.

“Strictly speak­ing, I’m 11 and a half,” he says in a dead­pan tone from Mel­bourne.

“It’s good be­cause I re­ally like play­ing un­der-12s footy.

‘‘I take scream­ers over the lit­tle kids and win the best and fairest most years. But it some­what ex­plains the tra­jec­tory of my whole life; that I just refuse to grow up.”

Now 46 in “real peo­ple years”, the fun­ny­man ar­rives on the Gold Coast to­mor­row night to head­line Laugh Your

Pants Off at Jupiters The­atre. Join­ing fel­low funny peo­ple Merrick Watts, Tommy Lit­tle, Claire Hooper, Dave Wil­liams and more, Wood­ley will showcase snip­pets of his new show, Fools Gold, after sell­out shows and rave reviews at the Ade­laide, Bris­bane and Mel­bourne com­edy fes­ti­vals.

“Its clas­sic stand-up and clas­sic Wood­ley,” says Wood­ley, best known for his TV shows Wood­ley and The Ad­ven­tures of Lano and Wood­ley (with for­mer com­edy part­ner Colin Lane).

“There’s no par­tic­u­lar theme other than me try­ing desperately not to make the au­di­ence feel like they wish they were some­where else.

‘‘There’s some stuff about bul­ly­ing that re­curs and a surreal non­sense piece about how the Nazis came up with their salute. I also do a song and get au­di­ence mem­bers up for a Nerf duel. So it’s a lot of silly fun and the kind of stuff I do best, I guess.”

But do not let Fools Gold or its clown prince fool you.

A lot of study and ex­pe­ri­ence goes into the seem­ingly sim­plest fall-down gag or fa­cial con­tor­tion, as Wood­ley con­tin­ues to study the masters and de­velop his style.

“I en­joyed ex­press­ing my­self as a kid. It was just a very nat­u­ral thing,’’ he says.

‘‘But as a teenager, I started to an­a­lyse things a lot more and ques­tion the in­gre­di­ents that make phys­i­cal com­edy en­gag­ing, teas­ing out all the mech­a­nisms that makes some­thing po­tent. “I got into things like Get

Smart and The Good­ies and the Clouseau films.

‘‘But it wasn’t un­til I was an adult that I would look at Peter Sell­ers, for ex­am­ple, and see how he was con­trol­ling our minds so it was in the ex­act right place at the ex­act right time when Cato leaps out of the closet It was in­cred­i­bly pre­cise and beau­ti­fully re­alised.

“I’ve watched and an­a­lysed all the masters such as (Charlie) Chap­lin and (Buster) Keaton, even vir­tu­ally un­known guys like Harry Langdon. ‘‘I love all that stuff. ‘‘It’s my life’s work, in a way. I just love it.”

Wood­ley ad­mits he is a real stu­dent of com­edy who con­tin­ues to look at the me­chan­ics that make a gag funny.

“For any co­me­dian that’s any good at what they do, there’s a lot of craft­ing un­der the sur­face,” he says.

“Even if they’re just fall­ing down a set of stairs or talk­ing about the hypocrisies of ad­ver­tis­ing, you have to find out how to ex­ploit hu­man emo­tions for comedic ef­fect.

‘‘Even do­ing the most clowny pieces with ‘Col’ over the years, we had all those big­ger-pic­ture ques­tions bub­bling around un­der­neath the sur­face and work­ing out how they will treat them, be it glibly or pro­foundly.”

Wood­ley, who is mar­ried with a 10-year-old son, re­cently per­formed in the darker, more ex­is­ten­tial play Inside, which was set in a prison.

Frank Wood­ley head­lines Laugh Your Pants Off, Jupiters Ho­tel & Casino, to­mor­row night.

Aus­tralian co­me­dian Frank Wood­ley will bring snip­pets of his new show to Laugh Your Pants Off.

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