frank woodley

Frank Woodley: Extra Ordinary

ABOUT THE WRITER: A very creative soul who loves music, drawing and everything Tim Burton, Ebony Williams specialises in Pinup photography.

As an actor, author, acrobat and well-known comedian, Frank Woodley ventures throughout the world connecting with his audience and lighting up the stage.

Best-known as a stand-up comedian and for his outstanding work in the hit television series Lano and Woodley, Frank Woodley made his solo debut in 2003 at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his show The Happy Dickwit. Frank has since performed a number of solo stand-up shows and in 2008 he even acted in a one-man play entitled Possessed, which captured audiences as he toured within Australia and abroad.  

Frank Woodley continued to amaze audiences in 2012 with his exceptional performance in the television series Woodley. The show was about an apparently innocent man who was caught up in real-world problems, along with the hilarious attributes of what life may, or may not throw at you.

Frank has also made regular guest appearances on Australian television shows and on the big screen in the comedy film Kath & Kimderella. He then continued to further his acting carrier playing the villainous Dog Catcher in Oddball, which was released just last year.

More recently the multifaceted comedian and actor is stretching the bounds of his talent and is now pursuing the project of children’s author and illustrator, writing a series of books called Kizmet. This entertaining series follows the whereabouts of an inquisitive young girl, a cheeky currawong bird and a bumbling detective.Comedy fans are rejoicing, though, as Frank Woodley dives onto the stage at the Brisbane Comedy Festival with Extra Ordinary, his clever comedy for like-minded people who are anything but ordinary.

MyCityLife sat down with the man himself to chat about being a comedian, his influences and what to expect at the show…

What’s involved in your preparation for going onstage?
As far as being vocally and physically warmed up, all I do is visualise I’m a toddler because they can scream for hours without losing their voice and I’ve never heard of a toddler doing a hammy.

How did you become interested in stand-up comedy?
I’ve never thought of myself as a stand-up comedian, although I have been doing stand-up for ten years since Lano and Woodley split up. I’ve always thought of myself more like a clown – I know that probably sounds pretty daggy. I guess the distinction is that I enjoy being on stage in a state of subversive comic bemusement, as opposed to the more classic stand-up comedian, who has confident comic opinions. I’ve enjoyed making people laugh by acting the fool for as long as I can remember and I’m not sure why!

Do you have any influences or role models that you look up to and if so, who?
From a comedic point of view I’m particularly enamoured by the masters of physical humour from those such as Buster Keaton, Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Peter Sellars, Jerry Lewis, Don Adams and the list goes on. But in general I’m much more impressed by people who humbly serve others, such as nurses, teachers, or funeral directors. I don’t think I’d be capable of the sensitivity and care required in those sorts of jobs but I really look up to people who choose to do them.

Do you often invite people you know to your stand-up shows?
Everyone is welcome, but occasionally I’ll notice somebody in the audience whose life I’ve mined for a bit of material and that can be distracting. For example, I was doing a bit about my older brother who used to pick on me when we were kids and I saw him in the crowd, but he was good about it. Although, he did meet me at the stage door, pin me down and dribble in my mouth! 

Did you always want to be a comedian?
Originally I wanted to be a spider monkey, then one of the Seven Samurai, then Harry Butler (the original Steve Irwin) and then a cartoonist… Then Maxwell Smart.

What’s the most interesting aspect of being a comedian?
I think the most interesting thing is that because you’re constantly generating new material you have to maintain the habit of considering things from a comical perspective, which is essentially, ‘is there an alternative way of seeing this?’. I think that keeps the world fizzing with irony and paradox.

How do you create such unique characters?
All of my creativity is about starting with a tiny seed of an idea, something so small nobody would ever think of it as being worthy of much attention and then teasing out more details and asking myself lots of questions. The main key is to not wait for something good, but rather start with something unremarkable and slowly tinker and fashion it into something effective. 

What’s your advice to other comedians wanting to get onstage?
Find lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of opportunities to perform in front of an audience in any way you can that appeals to you. That could be drama clubs, roaming at street festivals, or nights at comedy venues – whatever you can think of – then refine what you do through practise. If someone asked how to become a professional football player the obvious answer is to play a lot of football.

Do you have any plans to make a Woodley movie? 
No plans, but that would be great.

What can audiences expect from your Extra Ordinary show?
An hour of physical stand-up where I’ll be bouncing around all sorts of topics from earlobes to reverse psychology, under 9s football and catwalk models. If the previews are anything to go by, you’ll probably have a hearty cackle. You may also fall into the tiny minority of people who are left feeling either ambivalent or disappointed, but as that’s statistically unlikely let’s not focus on it!

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