Frank Woodley – Bewilderbeast : Comedy Reviews
It’s always difficult approaching any sort of entertainment medium of a duo gone solo. Even more so when you have grown up watching them, laughing at and with them, and following their career until the very heartbreaking end. Especially when their existence was iconic to the Australian comedy scene, a pair that inspired and pushed comedic boundaries within a society, spurring on a whole new generation of whimsical, clever, physical and ultimately, genuinely Australian comedy.
The success story that was the twenty year journey of the two loveable larrikins, Lano & Woodley, came to an end in late 2006, closing the curtain aptly, in Melbourne. Although this tour marked the end of the duo, separately, Colin Lane and Frank Woodley, after a short break from the comedy scene, embarked on solo tours and ventures of their own.
With Lane’s festival show, I’m Not Sure About The Music, in its second year, Woodley unleashed a brand new show, Bewilderbeast, on to the festival scene and to no surprise, developed quickly into a success.
Beginning the show introducing himself onto the stage, Woodley pranced about like the larrikin we have come to know and love, kicking off the show in fine fashion.
Due to the holiday period this particular show found itself in, many audience members were arriving late, which we know in comedy, means they are up for ridicule. Woodley cleverly stated to the latecomer, that they had just missed him perform a ludicrous and outrageous circus themed act, as well as informing the current audience to laugh, clap, cheer and rise into a standing ovation when he said the word ‘badger’, later in the show.
This worked overwhelmingly effectively, as those who had wandered in late, sat there with blank faces, wondering what had occurred, while the rest of the audience laughed and looked on admiringly.
As demonstrated in so many of his skits, his physical comedy is what awards him most praise and notoriety, while this show displayed not only this factor, but also his musical comedy as well as a run of his stand up comedy. Bumbling through his performance with an efficiency, timing and of course, excellent humour, Woodley infectiously enchanted the audience, demonstrating a prowess which comes from years in the industry, as well as pure skill and talent.
Although he will never break completely from the Lano & Woodley tag, he did his best to show his own individual skill and person, despite at times, the show feeling like more of a committee meeting than a performance.
Woodley continued through the show, providing hearty laughs, particularly through his imitations of relatives, and especially his quick witted skits. A few Lano & Woodley songs did make an appearance, such as ‘Contradictions’, a blues influenced ‘Revenge’ and one punter even shouted out a request of the infamous ‘Bouncy Rabbit’, to which Woodley replied, ‘Yeah, ask me to play the only song we need both of us to sing it!’.
A few varied nods to his duo past kept the audience interested, especially when Woodley stated, ’Col and I had dinner together the other night… Not together, in our separate houses, but you know, it’s an important meal.’
While many audience members were sitting there with hopes of a reunion somewhat soon, they did revel in the independent act that is Frank Woodley solo – the loveable larrikin we have indeed come to know and love, as skilled and comically talented without Lano by his side.