Woody Keppel Takes "Foolz" to France

CHARLOTTE Charlotte resident Woody Woodhead Keppel recently hopped across the Atlantic Ocean to perform his vaudeville style comedy routine on one of the most popular shows on French television, Le Plus Gran Cabaret de Monde, (The Biggest Cabaret on Earth). Airing on Sunday, December 2 to an audience estimated at nearly 50 million throughout Europe and the Middle East, Woodys six-minute Foolz routine is reminiscent of the comedic stylings of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with Woody taking on the role of the fool, while his partner, Danish juggler Henrik Bothe, plays the straight man. Although this live and in-person style of theatrical comedy has largely vanished from United States pop culture, the tradition is still alive and flourishing in caf_and theatres throughout Europe, said Woody. Its seen as a real art form in Europe and one that has been embraced, said Woody. On Nov. 6, over 400 elegantly dressed Parisians assembled at the studios of Le Plus Gran Cabaret de Monde, to sip champagne and watch the taping of the show as it unfolded on the opulent French set. Presenting a melting pot of acts ranging from acrobats, to magicians, to comedians, the show is similar in many ways to The Ed Sullivan Show and other variety shows once popular in the United States, said Woody. The European audience presents particular challenges to a comedian, Woody said, and he should know. Throughout his 27-year career as a comedian, Woody has performed in 26 countries on 6 continents. If they dont like you, you know it right away, because they get up and walk away, said Woody. However, the Foolz brand of slapstick comedy and impressive juggling technique is largely able to transcend the boundaries of culture and language. While Woody and his partner did say some of their lines in French, Woody said that as an audience member you can, check you brain at the door. You dont really need it. Theres something thats inherent in comedy that doesnt need language. While Woody and his partner Henrik have performed throughout the world, they also frequently perform in Vermont. Their next performance will be on December 31 at 2:30 p.m. on the Flynn Mainstage as part of the Burlington First Night celebration. Woody is also working toward launching a new childrens television program, called Woodheads Place. Woody and his team have filmed the pilot and written the first six episodes, and are currently looking for funding to get the show of the ground. These performances are helping to rebuild the vaudeville theatrical comedy tradition which was once immensely popular in the United States, when every tiny town throughout the land at the turn of the 20th Century had at least one theatre, if not two, said Woody. Vaudeville was our national pastime, said Woody. The emergence of the moving picture in the 1920s and 1930s did in the vaudeville theatre in Woodys opinion, as the theatre-goers increasingly spent their nickels to see Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers on the big screen. However, the original stars of television, such as Lucille Ball, Milton Burle, and Red Skelton, still had their roots in the vaudeville comedic tradition, Woody said. Woody noted that in the United States we live in a business-minded atmosphere, while Europe is artistically inclined as an entire society. We live in a culture that doesnt have a strong theatre tradition. We dont put our money toward the arts. Its more of a corporate, or private thing. To combat this trend, Woody is working collaboratively with Burlington City Arts to present the Festival of Fools, which Woody said will bring some of the best acts in the world here to do street theatre for three days next August.

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