Tony Woods From America?
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
As an original member of Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam (HBO) and P. Diddy's Bad Boys of Comedy, Tony's cool demeanor and sharp delivery provide sublime comedic entertainment. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Comics usually practise false flattery, proclaiming ‘you’ve been a wonderful audience’ and neither side really believing it, if they think about it at all. But when a stand-up relentlessly tells you how disappointed he is with the gig, how quiet the room is, how his jokes are dying – it’s a lot easier to believe. Has such a negative approach ever helped a situation?
Tony Woods spent most of his hour undermining himself in this way. Yes, he deserves a bigger crowd than the 20 or so scattered around the Green Room’s main venue. But that’s not the fault of those of us who came.
So for 40 minutes, he wilfully stops any momentum from building up. Highlighting every response he’s not happy with, tapping the microphone after every line in an implicit nod to the old comeback line: ‘Is this thing on?’
His style is already slow, such self-sabotage only drags it down more. That, combined with a general lack of focus about getting any material under way is hugely frustrating – especially when you witness what he is actually capable of.
The final 20 minutes, he kicks the limiters off his own delivery, and lets loose a skilful, gripping and hilarious set. It starts, modestly enough, with observations about Australia’s deadly and bizarre fauna, from fruitbats to redbacks, before launching off into an engrossing first-hand anecdote about his terrifying encounter with an emu. Or, as he always calls it ‘a giant fuckin chicken’.
This is a great routine, beautifully told, and shows what Woods is truly capable of. If he did this all the time, he’d surely get more than 20 in the audience.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett