The ABC is getting physical and there’s one man for the job: popular Aussie comedian Frank Woodley.
One half of the lovable duo Lano and Woodley, Frank is back with a new, entirely-physical show, simply titled Woodley.
Drawing on childhood loves such as The Goodies and Get Smart – not to mention comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton – Frank is taking a unique approach for 2012: all jokes are visual. There’s very little dialogue.
"It's something that I’ve had this sort of weird obsession with for my entire performing career really," the Melbourne comedian explains of his love for physical humour.
“A lot of these ideas would’ve been things that maybe Lano and Woodley would’ve moved towards as well – so in some ways it’s something I’ve been thinking about for five years and in some ways it’s stuff I’ve been working on for 25 years."
Unfortunately his comedy partner for two-decades – Colin Lane – won’t be on the show, but it promises to be a series that fans of the duo would enjoy.
Touted as “virtuosic physical mayhem”, the eight-part series follows Frank who is a devoted, accident-prone father of seven-year-old Ollie (Alexandra Cashmere). He tries to win back the heart of ex-wife Em (Justine Clarke), however this sours after she meets a new man (Tom Long): he’s reliable and focused – everything Woodley wasn’t when they were together.
The refreshingly-original show reunites the comedian with the public broadcaster after mid-to-late-‘90s cult show The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, which ran for two seasons. Woodley says the duo almost got a feature film up during their two-decade partnership.
“We wrote about five feature scripts and got really close to getting them up; we got really close to getting one of them up and then it just fell over at the 11th hour,” he says.
The pair parted ways in 2006 after 20 years of touring together. “We loved doing Lano and Woodley so much – it was part of our lives for 20 years, we just loved it,” Woodley says, indicating they’re both still friends and would do something again down the track.
“The whole thing was such a precious thing to us – but we thought we’d quit while we were ahead.”
After the team called ‘cut’, Woodley began developing ideas for this new series. He says the show was challenging to write because of the two restrictions he placed upon himself (not to mention the restrictive egg suit in the first episode): 1) all the jokes were to be visual and 2) could possibly happen in the real world.
Directed by Trent O’Donnell, the comedy series is produced by Woodley, Andy Walker and UK-based Simon Wright.
“The thing that I loved about the script was that it had so much heart – the family story in there is really quite beautiful,” adds Walker, who was instantly hooked after casting his eyes on the inventive scripts.
“It was the most sensationally-compelling read and incredibly exciting but it was reading a script like you had never read before – there was little-to-no dialogue in there.”
The series was shot by cinematographer Simon Chapman on the ARRI ALEXA (Zeiss Ultra Primes and an Angenieux 15-40mm zoom) and the RED (as a secondary camera), which were supplied by Inspiration Studios. It was filmed in Melbourne early-last year.
"I feel really proud of it, regardless of how it goes. I just feel really wrapped as to how it's all worked out," Woodley says.
For an in depth article on Frank and his new show, pick up a copy of IF Magazine’s February/March issue. Woodley is currently gearing up to perform his one-man show Bemusement Park around the country, including at The Adelaide Fringe and The Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Woodley can be seen on ABC1 from next Wednesday, February 22, at 8pm.