From the moment he gets up on stage, Rod Woodward is at ease with the crowd. Sporting a snazzy grey suit, he walks back and forth across the platform, engaging in comic banter with the audience as latecomers slowly trickle in. Woodward’s affability creates a relaxed atmosphere in what might otherwise be a slightly intimidatingly intimate space.
Still, Woodward’s bearing ensures the setting is a comfortable one and creates a good tone for the beginning of his set. The first half of Funny Turn is filled with small jokes about random inconsistencies in life (why do we have to cue in a complex maze at banks, why do we have to take our belts off at airport security?). Deftly, Woodward finds the ridiculous in these situations and exploits them, leaving the audience in stitches. Interspersed with these observations are comic episodes from his past, where anecdotes about his family and friends mix with hilarious commentary on Woodward’s home, Wales. The result is a strong and hilarious show.
Towards the end of the set, however, the jokes begin to go downhill. Previously funny anecdotes with a slightly tawdry twist give way to tawdry anecdotes with a slightly funny twist. The jokes range from ribald to lewd and are almost all sexually explicit. Worse, the punchlines become predictable, the jokes themselves slightly tired. The laughs are fewer and further between, and time begins to lag, until the end of the show arrives as a complete anti-climax.
Given that many shows at the Fringe run fifty minutes while Funny Turn lasts for sixty, one wonders why Woodward doesn’t just cut ten minutes out, leaving a stronger, more concentrated show. Still, given that he is set on an hour-long show, it must be said that the set is a strong one and that the first forty minutes go more than far enough to make the last twenty worthwhile.