The duo turning a piece of great American literature into Australian comedy gold

The duo turning a piece of great American literature into Australian comedy gold
Kaylah Joelle Baker

Chaotic comedy duo Lano and Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley) are back for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival with another epic adventure awaiting them.

Performing in the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from April 11 to 16, the duo tackles one of America’s greatest literary works, Moby Dick, in the hilarious style they are renowned for.

While not a production where you will necessarily learn anything about Moby Dick, Frank and Colin confirmed that the conflict that arose between the duo was something that all audience members would be able to relate to and laugh along with.

“The conflict between us is a really enjoyable place to play and the comedy just naturally comes out of that love-hate relationship,” Frank said.

“That relationship of love and hate represents any meaningful relationship people have in their lives, because all those really important relationships that make life worth living have a love-hate component to them and so it’s something people relate to profoundly.”

In true Lano and Woodley style, the basis of the show will centre around Colin’s character being constantly badgered and questioned by Frank’s inquisitive character.

While speaking on the production with Southbank News, Colin jokingly mentioned that he was the star, and Frank was the support act, to which Frank confidently added that it was an “honour and privilege to perform in Colin’s shadow”.

Colin and Frank first started performing together shortly after they met in 1986, while performing at Theatresports in Melbourne.

It was a time in their lives where they learned a lot about improvised comedy, refined their act, and first started performing at the Playhouse.

Twenty years of success followed as they cemented themselves in the comedy scene, before announcing a national goodbye tour as a last hurrah to their act in 2006.

But, after staying away for 12 years, they decided to relaunch themselves, and landed on the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright who invented the first powered aeroplane.

“It was a metaphor for us trying to see if we could get our act to take off again, and we really enjoyed doing that period piece and having an already existing story to work from,” Frank said.

“Then Colin happened to be reading Moby Dick during lockdown and I got an image instantly of Colin as the crazed Captain Ahab, set on revenge against the white whale. And in a way I am like this force of nature and Colin’s nemesis as I destroy his ego constantly, so I could see it working instantly for us.”

Once deciding on their next assignment, the duo knuckled down and created their next act.

“It takes a lot of thought, rehearsal, time and lengthy discussions to perfect the story, and it’s been very successful for us over the last couple of years, because we attract a wide age range … kids love it, adults love it,” Colin said.

“I’m not sure people are going to be thinking about the show for a week after, but for that time, it is a pure 60-minute escape from everything else. We will convince you the show should be called Moby Dick – by the end, you may think it’s more like, ‘Moby dickheads’.”

Lano and Woodley’s Moby Dick has been so successful during the past couple of years that it returns for this year’s festival due to popular demand, but according to the duo, it is coming back even better. •

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