Renowned around the world for his duo act Lano and Woodley, Frank Woodley is back in Adelaide with an exciting new show, The Composer Is Dead. After a decade of acclaimed solo shows, Woodley’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival show sees a partnership with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in a murder mystery like no other. With his infectious brand of visual humour, Woodley has found success wherever his stage may be. GLAM was lucky enough to chat with Frank about his career, inspirations and why Adelaide is such a highlight.
Ever since his first joke in Year 2, Frank has craved laughter in the limelight. “I was running the relay in the school Sports Day and I realised that there was no way our team was going to win and I was the last runner, and I thought, well I could run as fast as I can and lose but keep my self-respect, or I could just dance around the race track pretending that the baton was a flute.” This scored the laughs that have had Frank addicted to comedy ever since.
“It’s possible that if I was a faster runner, I would be giving a valuable contribution to society, but instead I’m just a show off. If you’re hit by a bus, the last thing you want to hear is ‘stand aside, I’m a comedian!’”
Frank’s absurd style is shaped largely by shows he watched on the telly as a kid, back in the day. Get Smart, The Goodies, Jerry Lewis and Pink Panther movies have all had a hand in influencing Frank’s many characters and nonsensical genius. Over thirty successful years in the comedy business is no mean feat, and Frank is as humble as ever, denoting his achievements down to “having no other useful skills. Then you’re pushed into a corner, and if you want to eat, you have to keep people laughing.”
After a strong, award-winning career alongside Colin Lane, Frank continues to challenge himself to keep it fresh. “You’ve got to find the balance between feeling that you’re capable and understanding what you’re doing and apply it to the best of your ability, and then that aspect when you’re in the unknown, taking risks.”
With a huge, emotionally charged final tour as Lano and Woodley, the two comedians went solo in a move which had Frank re-discovering himself. “I’d spent twenty years sabotaging Col’s efforts to make a show. As soon as Col wasn’t there, there needed to be some sort of adult, authoritative energy there, like a river needs to have banks to flow – it was all like a flood instead.”
Frank’s signature manic immaturity had to transform into something completely new, and The Composer Is Dead is sure to challenge the comedian again. “It’s a collaboration between quite a few artists. I’m like a clown amongst the orchestra.”
“There’s something really wonderful about having the high-art orchestra as a comic foil. It’s a comedy staple, just about all of the great comedians have got in amongst an orchestra at some point. You have to have respect for the talented musicians, but it’s great fun being that child doing all the wrong things.”
Woodley’s captivating and intensely fun visual humour continues to attract a wide range of audiences, but it’s his intuitive subtlety and superb timing which can get anyone laughing out loud. “I’ve always loved expressing myself physically. It doesn’t have to be big and bombastic … and I can’t even explain why it’s funny, but I love performing it, there’s something so pleasurable in the strange.”
The Composer Is Dead is part of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival and plays for one show only: Saturday 11th of June 2016, 12:00pm at the Festival Theatre. Suitable for ages 8 onwards.
Bookings can be made by clicking here
Interview by Hannah Lally