Karl Woodberry – How Shit is Shit!
Karl Woodberry @ Format
7:00pm, Tue 12 Mar 2013
When my Event Buddy suggested that we check out the low-brow – but cheeky – sounding How Shit is Shit! prior to other events we had Scheduled, I was a little dubious: I’m all for contrast in performances, but I was sceptical as to whether the emotional leap from base-level comedy to the high-art emotional brutality of Kamp would be doable. Still, it was a plan… and, with no other ideas doable in the available timeslot, we managed the dash from TuxCat to Format with minutes to spare.
When we arrived, there’s three people sitting in the Format foyer: one scruffy chap (who looked like the stereotypical hippie trekker) and an older couple. Once we arrived to a friendly “hi!”, the scruffy chap – Karl Woodberry – clapped his hands gently and invited us downstairs. Grabbing a drink on the way, my Buddy and I sat in the front row to the right; the other couple sat about four rows back on the opposite side of the room. We tried to coax them forward, since it looked like it would just be the cozy four of us in the audience, but they were having none of it.
Woodberry himself seemed ambivalent about the split audience, and proceeded to amble into his material. His set was quite well structured and paced, and if there’s two things that he clearly derives his material from, it’s hitch-hiking and drugs… and often the two themes are combined. Clearly, a lot of his material was relatively new – there were tales of his hitch-hiking trip to Adelaide for the Fringe, and he gleefully joked about sleeping in the venue (“No, seriously!” he exclaimed, lifting a curtain at the back of the stage to reveal a sleeping bag and ragged collection of belongings) – and it’s all delivered with an weird sense of experienced naïvety… Woodberry genuinely finds the things that happen around him to be surprising, and he’s happy to find the humour in it.
The pièce de résistance is the re-telling of a holiday he took with an ex-girlfriend’s family; despite his abject poverty, the girlfriend’s family (obviously quite flushed with cash) paid for him to go on a thirty thousand dollar cruise with them. Incredible, it’s true, but the subsequent interactions between himself and his girlfriend (not to mention the other family members) made this story an absolute treat.
After a relatively low-key set (Woodberry is most certainly not a loud, brash storyteller), we thanked him and proceeded to leave for our next show; as we climbed the stairs, I could see the older couple (who had only rarely giggled throughout) accost Karl. “That was really good… though we didn’t like all the drug references. Let me tell you all about the seedy side of Hindley Street…”
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 12, 2013