What does a comedian do when he loses his funny?
Freezing on stage, dissolving into senseless waffle, and dying a very public death are surely the stuff of nightmares for all performers. It takes a brave man to make that the topic of a whole show, but veteran showman Woodley has done it.
He opens with the pretext of having four trial runs to test out his new material before his opening night.
But Show One is a disaster, with jokes missing their mark and funny bones remaining stubbornly untickled. Show Two is even worse.
It's not just the audience he's having trouble connecting with – the kids roll their eyes at him, someone's trying to steal his car, his parrot's keeping him awake and his wife thinks he needs therapy. Even the homeless guy he passes gives him a hard time.
Then there's the on-stage mental battles with his inner critic, questioning his whole comic identity. Just what sort of comedian is he?
Whimsy might be Woodley's self-acknowledged stock in trade but he is such a gifted performer that he can weave in music, perfectly executed physical comedy, up-to-the-minute observations and clever one-liners in one seamless flow-of-consciousness monologue. Occasionally lifting the lights to include the audience in his inner-debate, he is also flexible enough to adapt and ad-lib his concepts and I'm sure every night will be customised to fit.
So where do you look for funny? How do you entice it back? What does it even look like?
Needless to say Woodley finds his holy grail, often in the most unexpected places.
His kids might still be rolling their eyes, but everyone else will be rolling in the aisles. Well, nearly.
A Token Event
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, St Kilda Road
Dates: Until 16 April 2017 (no Mondays)
Times: Tuesday to Saturday 8.30pm, Sundays 7.30pm
Tickets: $30 – $42