My Top 10: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

I am not as prolific a Comedy Festival attendee as I would like to be thanks to the combination of work and study that really kicks in right at MICF time, but I have my favourites and I would like to share them.

I’m including a ‘Front Row’ section to indicate whether I think it’s ‘safe’ to sit there or not, for anyone who doesn’t like being a comedian’s target.

Adam Richard – Splitsecondism

The first thing I think of every time I think of Adam is his infectious giggle, which has set off my own laughter on more than one occasion. The second thing I think of every time I think of Adam is that there is almost definitely going to be an anecdote somewhere in there about something inappropriate being inserted in… well, I don’t think I can say anything too explicit on this blog. He’ll have you laughing one minute and tensely quiet the next as his tales often take a quick turn for the serious. Either way you’ll leave the show with food for thought, even if that thought is, ‘But how would that even fit?’

Front Row: Yes, because then you get to see his facial expressions, which are charmingly mischievous.

Imperial Hotel
April 5-17
Tickets are available on the door.

Dinosaur Park (The Jurassic Parody)

I have never personally seen anything from these performers before, but the show was an Edinburgh Fringe sell-out in 2015, it’s garnered excellent reviews and it’s a parody of Jurassic Park. I’m sold on that latter fact alone.

Front Row: An unknown quantity to me, but I intend to sit there if possible.

Trades Hall – New Ballroom
March 24 – April 17
Click here to purchase tickets now.

Geraldine Quinn – Could You Repeat That?

I don’t remember which of Geraldine’s shows was the first that I saw, but it certainly wasn’t the first she performed. She has been a dynamic, sparkling force of comedy and cabaret since well before I started my MICF bingeing. Her 2016 MICF show is ‘Could You Repeat That?’, a retrospective of her career since 2006—a perfect chance for someone who hasn’t seen her perform before to jump on the bandwagon.

Front Row: Yes! Her costumes are best experienced as close as possible, because they are glorious. If you can’t sit that close, don’t worry; she has a very strong voice.

The Coopers Malthouse, Bagging Room
March 24 – April 3
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Hannah Gadsby – Dogmatic

I may have cried on Hannah a little bit after her show last year, but she wrote a lovely message on a tea towel for me and gave me a hug, so I was okay. That’s the essence of Hannah Gadsby’s shows: she will make you laugh and she will make you think and sometimes the thinking will involve tears. Fortunately it’s mostly laughter though! Her 2016 MICF show description is understated as ever: she has written a show, and she would like you to come. I can say on the basis of having seen her past few shows that this is a solid recommendation by itself.

Front Row: Good luck if you can get it! Hannah’s shows always sell out and the line to get in usually starts well before show time. Be warned.

ACMI Beyond
March 24 – April 17
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Josh Earl – Over/Under

I missed Josh’s ‘Women’s Weekly Cake Book’ show due to work obligations, but when his name came up again the following year I added him to my favourite MICF performer list and he’s now on there for good. His blend of spoken and sung tales of family, travel, work, and life in general make a great performance. He has what I can only describe as a ratbag sense of humour; a song will start out innocently, even sweetly, and then take a turn out of nowhere to an unexpected direction.

Front Row: Yes, the best place to hear his guitar from, even with speakers.

March 24 – April 15
Tickets are available on the door.

Lisa-Skye – Spiders Wearing Party Hats

Lisa-Skye’s 2016 MICF shows are at 9.45PM (8.45PM on Sundays) at the Tuxedo Cat, making them a daunting prospect for those of us who have to be up for work in the morning and live an hour out of the city. Late nights are a staple of her career. I’ve personally never regretted having to get through the next day on No-Doz. While Lisa-Skye’s unique brand of comedy can be confronting, potentially offensive to some, and leave you covered in glitter, it is an unmissable experience. With two different shows this Comedy Festival, she’s doubly unmissable.

Front Row: You may end up with glitter on you.

Spiders Wearing Party Hats
The Tuxedo Cat
March 24 – April 5
Tickets are available on the door.

Lisa-Skye & Nick Caddaye
The Tuxedo Cat
April 7-17
Tickets are available on the door.

Mark Butler – Brian of Woman, Brain of Man

Mark’s 2015 MICF show, Grammar Don’t Matter on a First Date, was a spur of the moment pick for me to fill in time between two other shows, and it was a great decision. As someone who’s spent time working as an editor, I spent as much time cringing as I did laughing. This year’s show, Brain of Woman, Brain of Man, looks like another insightful and potentially controversial show. If fights could break out last year over grammar, they certainly will over gendered thinking.

Front Row: Mark likes to solicit audience opinions regardless of where you sit.

The Downstairs Lounge @ The Grand Mercure Hotel
March 24-April 17
Tickets are available on the door.

Tegan Higginbotham – The City of Love

I have to admit I knew nothing about Tegan until I went to a Spicks and Specks taping where she was a guest in 2014 and she mentioned that she had a Melbourne International Comedy Festival show coming up (Game Changer). That was enough for me to decide to go along, because she was very funny. She didn’t have a solo show in 2015, given how much time her performance in WATSON’s Who’s Afraid of the Dark? took up, but she returns in 2016 with The City of Love, which promises to be a great accompaniment to WATSON’s Life Education Van for Adults. I’m looking forward to Tegan talking about the difficulties of being an adult, because if she has any better a handle on it than me, I’ll be taking notes.

Front Row: Yes, if you can get it; she’s had very full houses when I’ve been.

Greek Centre – Aphrodite’s Room
March 24 – April 3
Click here to purchase tickets now.

WATSON – The Life Education Van for Adults

WATSON combined humour and horror at the 2015 MICF in their sell-out show, Who’s Afraid of the Dark?, which used the eerie setting of the Old Melbourne Gaol to great effect. I’m still not entirely convinced that Tegan Higginbotham survived the night, but she has a new show this year, so unless she’s a zombie, maybe she made it out alive after all. This year, WATSON will be at the Backstage Room at Melbourne Town Hall to tackle an equally funny and frightful space: the Life Education Van for Adults. Whether or not you remember Healthy Harold the Giraffe, the premise alone promises to be… let’s just say highly educational.

Front Row: Who’s Afraid of the Dark? was highly audience participatory. I assume that Life Education van for Adults will be similar, in which case there’s nowhere for you to run. Not even up the back. Just get into it!

Melbourne Town Hall – Backstage Room
March 24 – April 16
Click here to purchase tickets now.

Zoe Coombs Marr – Trigger Warning

I first saw one of Zoe’s shows at the 2011 MICF, and I unfortunately can’t remember a lot about it other than that she has incredible comic timing and a knack for the slow build. (It’s been five years; that’s a lot of time in comedy shows.) I unfortunately missed her Dave performance, so I haven’t met him yet, but his second appearance in Trigger Warning looks encouraging. (Dave is Zoe’s male alter ego). Given the title I’m expecting this show to be confronting. Given the description on the MICF website, I’m expecting it to also be thought-provoking, hilarious, and maybe a little bit slapstick.

Front Row: I don’t know how deeply Zoe/Dave is into audience participation. Sit at your own risk.

Victoria Hotel – Acacia Room
March 24 – April 17
Click here to purchase tickets now.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs from March 25 until April 19 at various venues all over Melbourne and Victoria. Click here to buy tickets and browse events as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.