2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Dingo & Wolf in Winning at Life

Posted on 30 March 2012

Dingo and Wolf in Winning at Life were top on my list of acts to see this comedy festival. A friend of mine had been raving about them and I thought it was about time I gave them a look-see. I was mightily entertained.

Dingo & Wolf (Laura Dunnemann and Eleanor Webster) are a tightly knit comedy duo. Melbourne had been running short of fine and funny teams. So, it’s a delight seeing these two young women riffing off each other with such skill.

Comparisons were made on their marketing material with Kath and Kim and Lano & Woodley. They certainly are drawing from a long tradition of double acts and those are the more famous Australian duos, but they bring their own flavour to the genre.

People are most familiar with the combination of straight and comic in a duo. One performer behaves in an odd and humorous manner, and the other performer is either the butt of their jokes or provides a sharp distinction to highlight the former’s craziness. Duos who have used this format include Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Kermit and Piggie, and Fry and Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster.

However, any combination of distinct characters can provide the frisson of good comedy. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are both out of control, but Bugs is puckish and charming and Daffy is devious and put-upon. Character combinations that remind us of family dynamics tend to bring out the biggest laughs.

Dingo & Wolf have chosen to portray themselves as contrasting siblings. One takes on the role of the older, bossier sibling, who is emulating her parents. The other takes the role of the youngest, who is going for all the mileage she can get out of retaining childish qualities. Lano and Woodley certainly used this dynamic as well.

Clearly these women have had acting training. Their movement, vocal work, and interactions with the audience were as smooth as glass. The sense of absolute belief and confidence in their characters and the comic situation captivated the audience. The storytelling was also exceptional. A well-pitched rise in tensions between Dingo & Wolf resolved itself in a heartfelt climax, where the characters’s vulnerabilities are revealed.

The only two things I might suggest need twiddling are the opening in the dark, which should be a little shorter, and the visual aids, which needed to be more in keeping with the professionalism of the rest of the show and be faux shonky—not actually shonky.

Dingo & Wolf have every reason to be proud of Winning at Life. It is a fine piece of theatre. Personally, I would love to see these two with their own television series. Their lively company would be welcome once a week in my home.

Peace and kindness,



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