It’s been a long journey for Frank Woodley. As the Melbourne International Comedy Festival celebrates it’s thirtieth anniversary, it’s also been thirty years since a much younger Woodley first appeared at MICF, along with Scott Casely and Colin Lane as trio the Found Objects. In ’92, Casely moved to Alice Springs, and Lano and Woodley was born, appearing in their first show as a duo – Fence – in ’93, winning the Festival’s coveted Moosehead Award (actually a grant), and then a Perrier Comedy award at Edinburgh in ’94.
But in 2006, after over two decades as a duo, including countless live shows, and a TV program (1997’s The Adventures of Lano and Woodley), tragedy struck fans of this iconic pair; they intended to split, citing a desire to pursue new challenges. Goodbye toured 37 Australian cities, and then the curtain dropped for the final time.
Since then, Frank has appeared frequently as a guest on TV, even having his own show, the short lived Woodley, in which he played an innocent-seeming, accident prone man trying to bond with his daughter and estranged wife. He’s also performed a variety of one-man shows, with Extra Ordinary being his latest offering.
Frank has a confession. It’s been on his mind for a while. What he really loves doing is making really cheap, crappy, last minute costumes, mostly from supplies bought at K-Mart. Also, he’s written a Shakespeare Play. Well, actually, it’s not a “Shakespeare Play”, it’s a “Play About Shakespeare” (fitting, as starred in a 2007 production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)). At least nine-tenths of the show’s hour long runtime is given over to preamble and tangents, presented with his well established nervous energy.
Frank is a seasoned performer, and his natural talent for seemingly nonsensical, undirected but insanely funny ramblings provides him with a natural rapport when the audience comes out with unexpected heckles. At the performance I saw, an audience member’s comments about another presumably taking a loo-break lead to a five minute discussion of 1971 film Walkabout and Jenny Agutter’s pubes.
Despite what the name suggests, Frank Woodley’s Extra Ordinary is anything but. It is, in fact, extraordinary. Oh, I get the joke now!
Frank Woodley in Extra Ordinary is at the Melbourne Town Hall’s Lower Town Hall at 8:20 Tuesday to Saturday, 7:20 Sunday until April 17. Prices $30 – $42.