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Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021: Our top picks

*play clip of us laughing hysterically*

After the year that was, it’s pretty clear that what we all need is a good laugh. That’s why we’re extra excitement to that Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021 is here to deliver.

The Festival truly needs no introductions. Across its 30+ year legacy, it has launched the careers of many of your favourite comedians and well and truly earned its place in the top three largest comedy festivals in the world. When you’re sitting alongside Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival, you know you’re in pretty good company.

As always, the program is chockful of everything from ​stand-up, to improv and sketch ​comedy​ (just to scratch the surface), so we’re certain there’s something for every taste.

From longtime heavy hitters to homegrown humour machines, the up and comers you need to know, and comedy veterans you need to see – you’ll spend your time at Melbourne International Comedy Festival in various stages of hysterical laughter and deep thought.

With so much good stuff jam-packed into the festival, here are our top picks.

Aaron Chen – Sorry Forever

Forum Melbourne | Tuesday 6 April – Sunday 18 April (excluding Mondays)

Aaron Chen is keeping pretty hush about what his 2021 MICF show is about. “I’ll also have a think about it right now as I’m in hotel quarantine for 14 days. So I’m not too sure yet,” is about all he is ready to give away.

What we do know though, is that we’ll probably get to head the best bits of his 2020 show Mr Cigarette, so expect only good things from the Directors Choice Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019, Best Newcomer Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017, and Best Newcomer Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.

Ali McGregor – Big Family Gala

Forum Melbourne | Saturday 10 April

Hostess with the mostess Ali McGregor (Jazzamatazz!) is putting on a night that the whole family can enjoy together. She’s promising glamour and silliness in equal measure, and we’ve already got our outfit picked out.

Everyone is invited to dress in their Sunday – or in this case Saturday – best and walk the red carpet before being treated to some of the Festival’s finest acts, including The Listies, Don’t Mess With The Dummies, and Dane Simpson, offering jazzy beats, hilarious comedy and thrilling circus all backed by our live jazz band.

Suitable for children 2-10 years and their servants/parents/carers (grandparents especially encouraged!).

Andrew Hansen – Solo Show

Forum Melbourne | Friday 9 April – Sunday 11 April

You know him best as the self-proclaimed “good one” from The Chaser’s War On Everything, but at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival Andrew Hansen is stepping out on his own.

Solo Show is going to be a special one. As well as featuring a whole host of new songs and sketches, Hanson will be deep-diving into The Chaser’s huge back catalogue to deliver some of the best bits that we haven’t seen or heard in years.

Get ready for a night of blistering musical takedowns.

Anne Edmonds & Lloyd Langford – Business With Pleasure

Comedy Theatre | Friday 9 April – Sunday 11 April

What’s better than one comedy favourite, we hear you asking. Well, it’s two of course. And after Anne Edmonds and Lloyd Langford spent most of 2020 locked down together, you bet they’ve got some top notch laughs to share.

There’ll be jokes, stories, gossip and quite possibly the thrilling spectacle of the onstage breakdown of their relationship. So, truly a night to remember.

You might know Anne for her uncompromising, fearless and hilarious stand-up and her knack for making people cry from laughter.

Lloyd is making his mark in Australia becoming a fan favourite on Have You Been Paying Attention?.

Best of the Edinburgh Fest

Forum Melbourne | Thursday 25 March – Sunday 18 April

A Festival favourite is back in 2021 – that’s right, Best of the Edinburgh Fest is returning to showcase some of the best international and local comedy talent.

Direct from the UK, Kelsey De Almeida and Luke Benson will lead a night of unbeatable, world-class comedy alongside some very special alumni Best Of Ed Fest guests. 

Follow @marytobinpresents for nightly line ups.

Deadly Funny – National Grand Final

Forum Melbourne | Saturday April 17

For 15 years this deadly competition has crossed the country to unearth the freshest, fiercest, funniest comedians and yarn-spinners from the oldest culture on earth!

Hosted by Dane Simpson, this year’s Grand Final will feature the 2020 and 2021 national finalists and special guest performances. t

Jimeoin – Ramble On!

The Palms at Crown | Friday 26 March – Saturday 17 April (Friday & Saturday performances only, excluding Saturday 3 April)

He’s a stalwart of Australian comedy, now in his new show Ramble On! Jimeoin is here to impart clever and quirky observations on everyday suburban life in his trademark laidback style.

Well-known for hitting the mark year after year, a night with Jimeoin is a night not to be missed.

Judith Lucy – Turns Out, I’m Fine: In Conversation

Comedy Theatre | Saturday 17 April – Sunday 18 April

Award-winning comedy legend Judith Lucy will join Kaz Cooke to deep dive into her new book, Turns Out, I’m Fine.

It’s her most candid and insightful book yet, dealing with death, heartache, existential angst and a dry vagina – telling the tale of how her life turned south just before she turned 50 and how she got to a better place.

Expect wise revelations and a whole lot of laughter.

The Festival Club

Forum Melbourne | Friday 26 March – Saturday 17 April (Friday & Saturday performances only)

What could be better than The Festival Club’s spontaneous, bold mix of  stand-up, cabaret, burlesque, lip synchronisers, drag kings and queens? That’s right, absolutely nothing.

And this Melbourne International Comedy Festival they’ll be delivering it every Friday and Saturday for your enjoyment.

They have an array of events planned; from the Comedy Bonanza featuring everyone from Nikki Britton to Nina Oyama locked in for Friday 26 March to Melbourne’s riskiest and most diverse acts in The Kaye Hole on Saturday 3 April, or a night of Eurotrash, comedy, circus and more at Haus Party! on Saturday 10 April.

Check out the whole program here.

Tom Gleeson – Lighten Up

Comedy Theatre | Thursday 25 March – Sunday 18 April (excluding Mondays, Friday 26 March, Wednesday 7 April, Friday 9 April)

We probably don’t need to convince you why you should make sure Tom Gleeson is on your Melbourne International Comedy Festival schedule for 2021. But, we’ll make a list anyway. He was the winner of Best Comedy at the 2020 Adelaide Fringe, he’s a Gold Logie Winner, and he’s the host of Hard Quiz.

In his latest hour of laugh expect nothing short of sure-fire, killer stand-up that will have you in stitches.

Tommy Little – I’ll See Myself Out

Comedy Theatre | Wednesday 24 March – Saturday 10 April (excluding Mondays)

You watch him nightly on The Project and listen to him on his radio show Carrie & Tommy, now this Melbourne International Comedy Festival you can spend an evening with him.

We are, of course, talking about Australia’s self-described premier d*ckhead, Tommy Little. Who, thankfully for all us, has made enough d*ckhead decisions to keep us laughing all night.

Nothing is off limits at a Tommy Little live show – his real-life antics and setbacks are foolish, funny as hell and definitely his own fault.

Wil Anderson – Whatchu Talkin’ Bout Wil?

Comedy Theatre | Saturday 17 April

For more than two decades, Wil Anderson has been treating Melbourne audiences to his critically-acclaimed stand-up. A seasoned performer and incredible storyteller, Anderson is celebrated for his relatable, deeply detailed shows, filled with just the right amount of self-deprecating.

But, this year – for one very special night only – he is diving headfirst into, what we can only assume, is a stand-up comedian’s worst nightmare – improvisation. If you’re an Anderson Comedy Festival regular (like us), you might remember his 2015 show Free Wil, which saw Anderson trade sections of quickfire improv with hilarious tales from the road. In Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Wil?, he promises to take things one step further – a show completely made up on the spot. Never to be repeated again. We promise this is Anderson at his absolute best.

Zoe Coombs Marr – Agony! Misery!

Forum Melbourne | Friday 9 April & Saturday 10 April

For more than two decades, Wil Anderson has been treating Melbourne audiences to his critically-acclaimed stand-up. A seasoned performer and incredible storyteller, Anderson is celebrated for his relatable, deeply detailed shows, filled with just the right amount of self-deprecating.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021 will delight audiences from Wednesday 24 March until Sunday 18 April. Tickets to all these shows are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.