RETURN OF THE KINGS: Comedy legends Lano and Woodley have returned to the stage for the first time in over a decade with their new performance ‘Fly’, based on the aviation pioneers, the Wright brothers. Colin Lane and Frank Woodley will perform at the Mildura Arts Centre in April for the first time since 2006. Photo: BEN KING

By MITCH RODD

LANO and  Woodley’s ‘Fly’ may be based on a feat of engineering, but it is the comedy duo’s on-stage chemistry that will have you rolling in the aisles.

When Aussie comedy legends Colin Lane and Frank Woodley performed their Good Bye tour in 2006, not many would have expected to see the pair grace the stage together again 12 years later.

Lano and Woodley’s highly acclaimed production Fly, a comedy based on the famous Wright brothers, the pioneers of flight, was a smash hit at last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 

Now they are on the road once again, and will bring the show to Mildura on Saturday, April 6, for two performances.

The slapstick humour, boundless energy and tightly-crafted storylines the double-act bring to each and every show pleases audiences of all ages, and Fly is said to be their best yet.

Speaking to Mildura Weekly, Colin said the response to their new show had been nothing short of incredible.

“It would have been pretty disappointing if we get back together and the audience response was, ‘Meh’,” he said. “It has been a glorious return, and because we have performed about 100 shows we’ve made little changes and gotten rid of all the (terrible) bits, although as a result Frank is no longer in the show.”

Lano and Woodley began their stand-up comedy careers in 1986 as members of comedy trio The Found Objects with Scott Casley, before debuting their double act in 1994.

A one-off performance at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala in 2016 – to mark their 30th anniversary – then gave way to the mates writing another show following their 2006 split.

Colin said the magic was still there during the spot which went for only a few side-splitting minutes.

“We found it really enjoyable, and it led to us talking about the possibilities backstage,” he said. “We didn’t ask each other directly, but made a few statements with upper inflections.

“We put our heads together, started writing down ideas, and within hours we were p*ssing ourselves at some of the things we came up with. Well, not literally, but you get what I mean.

“We had done lots of things over those 12 years with TV appearances, musicals and theatres, and Frank did some solo stand-up comedy shows.

“To be able to write and produce your own show gives you so much freedom, and there is so much trust between the two of us in the writing process.

“I think most of the show is the relationship 

between Frank and I. I don’t think it really matters what characters we are playing. It wouldn’t matter if we were the Wright brothers, or Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, it is more about the way we interact on stage.

“We didn’t go right in depth into their story on their Wikipedia page. We spent a bit of time researching them, and a lot of time writing silly jokes. So if you book a ticket and think you’ll be learning about aeronautical details, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

While fans have been overjoyed to have two of Australia’s funniest men performing for them once again, Colin confirmed it may not be a permanent fixture for the future.

“What’s been pleasurable about this experience is that we have no idea what the future looks like,” he said. “While we’ve gotten back together for this show, we’re not actually ‘back together’. 

“You can never say never. Who knows, in this day and age we could write another show, we could make a sitcom, we could write a movie, or we could do nothing.

“The audience has shown they are interested, and as long as that interest is still there we can’t rule anything out.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’re not sure how the response will be on this regional tour but hopefully we won’t be tarred and feathered.”

While topical stand-up comedy and sketches are commonplace in 2019, there is still a place for slapstick humour, or as Colin described it: “A good idiotic show”.

“There is still a great desire for stand-up comedy to provide a humorous take on the world, although I don’t think we’re well researched enough to be clever, so we much prefer to hit each other with blunt instruments,” he said.

“We don’t specifically try to write slapstick material, we just write jokes that we enjoy and that we hope will create a good idiotic 60 to 90-minute show.

“When you have a great show and a terrific audience, it can create this infectious sense of silliness that can get everybody laughing.

“People who saw us as teenagers are now bringing their kids along. We’re probably into our third generation of audience members.

“We didn’t do a huge amount of TV in those 12 years, so some of the younger ones in the audience can giggle away but are also a little frightened because we look much older than what we did on the DVDs.”

In a media release announcing the 2019 regional tour with Fly, Frank Woodley said: ”Performing as Lano and Woodley again was just like riding a bike. Actually, it was probably more like riding a crazy pig through a crowded market, but my point is I felt completely at home.”

Lano and Woodley will be performing Fly at the Mildura Arts Centre on Saturday, April 6, at 5pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets are available at Mildura Arts Centre, or via milduraartscentre.com.au.