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Interview: Colin Lane

By Sean Lynch
Interview with Comedian Colin Lane
Star of "I'm Not Sure About The Music"

Colin Lane

Colin Lane

Colin Lane

Colin Lane in Don's Party (above) and part of Lano & Woodley (below)

Colin Lane in Lano & Woodley
Colin Lane

Colin Lane in The Mikado

Having already conquered the world of comedy as one half of the legendary comedic duo in Lano & Woodley, you would think Colin Lane would have had just about enough of the showbiz life.

However, it seems the bounty of awards and accolades were just the beginning.

After a string of TV appearances on Good News Week and Spicks & Specks, along with well received stage turns in Don's Party and The Mikado - Lane is returning to where it all began... The world of comedy.

Sean Lynch caught up with the comedy legend on the eve on the eve of him taking the leap into his first major solo outing.

In 2006 you're album "Lano & Woodley Sing Songs" won Best Comedy Release at the Arias... but you didn't even turn up!

Well, I was kind of quite pissed off at that myself, because Frank and I had a 40th birthday to go to - and the date had been changed a couple of times to suit Frank already - and so he said "I'm not going [to the Arias]".

And I went "Well, I perhaps should go to the 40th as well".

Then we arrived at the 40th, and it was a pretty relaxed "pub afternoon thing" - not that exciting really - and then when we left... we found out that we won!

You beat us [The Shambles], and we made the effort to make the trip! Surely they can overrule that decision based on punctuality...

[Laughs] In 2007, we were nominated again. I went along... and we didn't win!

That's Karma coming back to bite you on the arse Lane!

Disappointing that.

And disappointing to be in a venue where 99% of the [music industry] people really don't give a f*ck about comedians being there. [Laughs]

A question that's asked to comedians all the time is "What is your greatest comedic influence?" - but that's quite an annoying question.

So let's go to the opposite end of the spectrum... Who just shits you?


[Laughs] Well that wouldn't be very professional or diplomatic of me to tell you the truth.

You can say Paul McDermott if you want... we're all thinking it [Laughs]

Well, see, Paul McDermott is a lovely man.

I was talking to someone the other day about the Doug Anthony's [80s comedy group, The Doug Anthony All Stars] and how he was the one I... um, "least" enjoyed the company of at the beginning of our friendship with that trio.

Now, however, I think he is probably the one I do get on with the best.

You guys used to go back to the days of the ABC's The Big Gig didn't you?

We [comedy trio, The Found Objects] used to support them at the Prince Patrick in Collingwood back in the late 80s. They would be doing a Thursday residency, and we would do half an hour up front, then they would do an hour after that - and they were huge.

I remember Tim [Ferguson] would go "Sometimes we make $900 a week" - and I'm going "Far out!"... because we were only getting paid $60 between the three of us.

Is your new show, "I'm Not Sure About The Music", the first major solo comedy outing since the break-up of "Lano & Woodley"...

Yes... is my answer... to that question.

Yes. It. Is. [Laughs].

I did a 15 minute short work at, funnily enough, a place called "Short Works" at VCA about eighteen years ago. And then I've done MC-ing and Corporate things here or there, a bit of Comedy Festival Roadshow - but yes, as a 60 minute show this is my first foray into it.

So, it's kind of nerve wracking.

At the same time, it's kind of "What are you getting yourself so uptight about - It's going to be fine".

Just the repetition of the word "Surely" is going through my mind.

"Surely... Surely... I mean you've done it for 20 years... you know what to do, you're on telly and stuff... Surely... Surely.... you write actor on your passport...so... um... Surely...?".

So the prospect of not having someone to bounce off and pick up the slack isn't too daunting then? [Laughs]

I have no idea Sean [Laughs].

Russell Fletcher is an old friend of mine - and he came in and looked at it and said he liked the persona I was using.

And I said "I don't really know what that persona is, it was really just a run through - but if you think that's good, I'll keep it".

But - on the night - with 50 people in the humongous surrounds of The Butterfly Club - it could all change and I could go a bit mental [Laughs].

I could panic half-way through, when I can actually see people. Where as in the old days [of Lano & Woodley] you'd have lights in your eyes. And I kind of liked having that sort of safety net - I didn't like to see people in the audience.

I mean, I like to see people in the audience because they've come... but I don't like seeing their faces because it FREAKS me out.

So I'm guessing if this doesn't work you'll head back to hosting TV? Something like Wine Me Dine Me - was that just an excuse to see Tom Croydon [actor, John Wood] on the piss?

[Laughs] I had a couple of "work experiences" with John. Nice guy. Slight tendency to want to say to him "Would you rather be somewhere else?" sometimes.

Just a tad like his [Blue Heelers] character, kind of going [sighs and proceeds with a spot-on Tom Croydon impersonation] "Alright, come into my office". But hugely popular... and a huge man to boot.

In regards to the Theatre roles you've taken on since Lano & Woodley - is that something you always wanted to do, but were never able to?

There were times when we were offered stuff, and I just couldn't do it, because we were touring. And that's fair enough.

But I was very excited to do Don's Party. Coming from the comedy world into MTC world - it's a very different world. When they say you start rehearsals at 10am, you have to start at 10am!

Did you have any difficulty coming from a career where you knew what was funny and what wasn't - and then having to listen to someone else telling you what is "funny" and what isn't?

Well that's what was weird as well. First you're given a script that you can't change, then you're given a director that you couldn't change, and third - you have to perform the same script every night!

You couldn't change it, you couldn't muck around, you couldn't improvise, you couldn't talk to the audience - you couldn't hang shit on somebody that's coming in late. And sometime the director would say "Don't do that in that way" - and you can argue the point - but he is the boss. And me and Frank never had any directors.

Did that experience turn you off doing more theatre?

Well in some ways it was immensely refreshing to be told where to stand and what to say. Because, Frank and I had written so much stuff over the years, it was kind of nice to be told how to do it.

Because, in a way, it was nice to be told what to do - instead of having to try and invent it.

You've had to invent the new show by yourself. What's the writing process there (without Frank) and is it something you might look to tour at the Comedy Festival?

I kind of started to sit down to write it by myself. And after about four weeks, I couldn't think of what else to write so I thought "Alright, I'll just start learning it" - and I've learnt it.

I mean, I hope there are no shit bits - because if there is, I haven't got anything else to replace it!

Really, it's just a chance for me to sing some songs and do some stuff without Frank in front of an audience and see how it goes.

Before we go - I must point out that you probably had the neatest and most well groomed hair of anyone in comedy during the Lano & Woodley years. Do you ever feel like growing a beard and not showering just to fit in?

[Laughs] Well, I've been growing my hair for the last six to ten months now.

And I tell you what Sean, if you want to get some attention through doing pretty much f*ck all - and that is just not getting a hair cut - it's great!

Because during the time of Frank, I pretty much went to the hairdresser and said "Give me a Don Adams". It's something I'm not short of is hair. And as Frank said "Isn't it funny how heirsuit sounds like Hair Suit".

We always like to finish off with this - so if you could just finish this sentence: "It's better to have loved and lost, than too..."

It's better to have loved and lost than too... have lost... a game... ten - love.

"Colin Lane in I'm Not Sure About The Music"
When: April 1 – April 25 (performances Wednesday to Sunday)
Tickets: $27 full, $22 concession, $22 (Groups of 8 +), Previews $22
Where: The Butterfly Club (204 Bank Street, South Melbourne)
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com



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