With the release of his second album, Andy Woodhull proves that nice guys do not always finish last. The Indiana native’s boy-next-door charm combined with his fluid storytelling has drawn comparisons to both Daniel Tosh and Mike Birbiglia—though Woodhull is more than capable of standing on his own two feet comedically.
Following 2008’s self-released Sounds From the Rainforest and recorded at Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton, Wisconsin, Lucy
relates tales of Woodhull having to put his dog to sleep, potential encounters with mountain lions and living next to a sushi restaurant. There’s no time for fluffy intros or audience interaction as he dives right into his material, very rarely pausing from one joke to another. His complete preparedness is notable; there is only one moment throughout the album in which he falters slightly, as his set is so well-rehearsed that he’s eliminated any awkward pauses or transitions. Considering the many tangents Woodhull goes off on, it’s impressive he’s able to pull it off so well.
“I didn’t even know we needed to do that,” Woodhull says to a friend upon seeing cake balls at his local bakery. “I thought that we just baked more cakes when it was time. I didn’t know that we had to neuter the existing cakes to prevent them from irresponsibly reproducing, and then we’d have these bastard muffins running all over the city. We’ve got to catch them in the alleys and take them to the muffin shelters. And no one even wants shelter muffins; they have behavioral problems.”
While Woodhull’s humor could be classified as observational, it’s his random, unexpected punchlines that make his observations unique from those of other comedians: “’Use caution’ isn’t even advice; it does no good. If we see a mountain lion, ‘Use caution’ is nothing. ‘Run for your life’ is advice. ‘Play dead’ is advice. ‘Challenge the mountain lion to a game of Connect Four’ is advice—that’s an action.”
As impressive as Woodhull’s preparedness is, the flatness of his tone of voice is easy to get lost in, as his set is delivered with very little vocal inflection. While many comedians rely on characterizing certain jokes or raising their voice for emphasis, Woodhull instead relies on the strength of his material and the element of surprise, creating a setting which feels as though Woodhull was simply telling these stories to a small group of friends. As with any long-winded friend, however, it’s not always easy to focus on what’s being said. After finishing his muffin rant on a note about cranberry rug stains, Woodhull sympathizes, “If I lost you, that’s fine. I just want you to know the types of things I was saying out loud in this bakery.”
Lucy isn’t all randomness, though, as Woodhull uses some difficult life moments to showcase his cleverness. He admits to crying “an inappropriate amount for a public place” at having to put his dog down, then cites his crying in a similar fashion during each of the four breakups he went through with his ex-girlfriend. “I think quitting your ex is more difficult than quitting drugs, because drugs never show up drunk at your apartment and do you. “
Lucy is clearly a tribute to Woodhull’s deceased canine companion of the same name, which is a very simple and effective way to win over an audience before they’ve even listened to it (given that they are dog lovers). By the time Woodhull comes around to telling a story involving Lucy having eaten the better part of one hundred condoms, it’s tough to not be just a little touched by his love for his pet.
Woodhull’s basic likability, plus his relatively clean and, at times, heartfelt material are refreshing; his stage presence is unassuming and relaxed, betraying the many topical twists and turns he takes his audience through. His comedy is unpredictable and imaginative, and thusly, careful attention should be paid so as not to miss any part of Woodhull’s random wit, such as his very subtle callbacks scattered throughout the second half of Lucy. As Woodhull recalls the story of a friend’s 30th birthday, he quips, “I said, ‘It’s your birthday! I’ll get you whatever kind of cake you want. I’ll get you the balls or the penis.’”
Lucy is a perfect example of why the comedian won the Best of the Midwest Competition at Gilda’s LaughFest earlier this year, showcasing not only his creatively clever joke-writing talent but also his ability to win over his audience with natural Midwestern charm. The performance is a highly-entertaining and solid fifty minutes that proves there is still a place for someone like Woodhull in an industry overflowing with angry shock humor and bitter comedians.