FRANK WOODLEY BRINGS THE LAUGHS TO JUPITERS
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.