Ain’t Even Illness Stands in the Way of MICF Week Three! Highlights of My Experiences

I feel like it is tradition to experience during the third week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival physical and mental obstacles. Overcoming these minor obstacles may be challenging but, like Wednesdays, getting over the hump ensures a smooth upcoming finish. This week, I found myself trying to recover from illness – a small cold inflicted on my immune system from a busy schedule and limited opportunities to sleep between work and entertainment. Regardless, I was able to see 11 more delightful performances showcased at MICF.

Tuesday, April 5th

Susie Youssef CHECK YOUSSEF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOUSSEF

A surprising an opening act! Telling tales of auditions gone awry! Susie Youssef used the MICF platform to remind her audience how versatile a comedienne she really is. Standing a mere 5 feet and some-odd-inches, Youssef is a sassy and ingenious improv warrior who captures every detail.

Thursday, April 7th

Steen Raskapoaulos YOU KNOW THE DRILL

Expect slick sketch comedy ranging from drill sergeants to retired doctors. Raskapoaulos presents a fast paced action packed show with lots of audience participation and call backs to earlier scenes throughout. A great example of sketch comedy that is spectacularly fun!

Friday, April 8th

Matt Stewart & Andy Matthews LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE

When a sweet television gig up in Sydney beckons, you just can’t say no. But try coordinating with your comedy partner a time to write for an upcoming show it smells trouble. Matt and Andy did the best they could to put together a last-minute collaboration together for MICF; however, the proof was in the pudding. Their saving grace was showcasing their individual talents – Matt, a great conversationalist comedian; Andy a superb comedy writer.

Markus Birdman FAUSTUS

Paraphrasing a classic story like Faustus – a story about a man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for success – Birdman parallels his personal experiences (facing divorce, being a single dad, Britishisms) to that of the main character. Birdman ensures he enjoys being a comedian and will do it on his own terms.

Andy Matthews PLENTY

Proving to be a master storyteller, Andy Matthews presents one of his own fictional stories set to the background music of Mitch Berk. Those who enjoy stories like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would dig Matthews’ science-fiction storytelling. Andy is an intellectual comedian who struggles

Saturday, April 9th

POLICE COPS

By starting their performance 15minutes late under a disingenuous excuse of a broken hand, Police Cops started on my bad side.   A parody of late 1970’s or early 1980’s cop television shows, Police Cops involved three young performers with bad accents, high levels of vanity and cheap jokers. It seemed that these guys are more talented as dancers than comedians as most of the staging and directing moved along creatively smooth. Overall, it was an insult to the audience.

YETI’S DEMON DIVE BAR

Come to MICF’s most raucous, quirky and delightful cabaret/variety show, Yeti’s Demon Dive Bar! An uproarious freakshow variety hour filled with quirky characters, original musical numbers and spontaneous audience interaction, Yeti’s characters are brought to life by the masterminds of  Jennifer Byrne and Victoria Falconer-Pritchard. These two obviously LOVE to play with their audience to ensure patrons get their monies worth; I can’t wait to see more from this high-energy comic duo!

Ben Russell and Xavier Michelides NO SHOW

As the audience walks into the space, two performers are found on stage preparing for their show though vocal and body warm ups. They then leap into a twisted story narrative of two performers on stage… in front of no audience. But the show must go on before one of them gets upset. Filled with laugh-out-loud zany antics, most memorable moment is the “clap” performance that breaks out into the song “Big Yellow Taxi.” For a late night show, this duo will revive you of your energy.

Sunday, April 10th

Tom Ballard BOUNDLESS PLAINS TO SHARE

Whoever said comedians only do funny. Well, I hate to inform ya but you are WRONG! And to prove it, do yourself a favour by seeing Tom Ballard’s Boundless Plains to Share. Smartly using a unique platform like MICF to raise awareness on the great immigration debate, Tom Ballard presents a most compelling argument that there is no easy way to solve the immigration problem, but there certainly is much we can do to promote change. Ballard’s presentation doesn’t sensationalise anything as he argues both sides of the spectrum; yet he is able to remind us that throughout Australia’s history we have not been upholding our national anthem’s lyrics.

Anne Edmonds THAT’S EDDOTAINMENT

Anne Edmonds is my kind of female comic! Her crass style of comedy is delightful! Setting her intentions to turning her audience into her new friends, she tells her raunchiest jokes first, to get them out of the way. Latecomers and unsettling punters be warned: Edmonds calls out every distraction from the audience as it happens. These distractions throw her off track from storytelling and she does not appreciate it!

Snort WITH FRIENDS

It’s the battle of all comic battles – honouring the traditional rivalry between Australia and New Zealand! New Zealand’s beloved improv troupe SNORT challenged Australia’s roaring Bear Pack to compete for the coveted title of best improv troupe in the Pacific waters. Who came out on top? EVERYONE! An ingenious showcase of talent, teamwork and creative rivalry it was a joy to watch these comics work together to creative such a beautiful supportive environment. Another battle is rumoured to be scheduled soon – be on the look out!

Twelve Shows in the First Week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Not Bad!

My first week of Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival was everything I was hoping it would be: busy, funny and anticipating more. I’ve seen some really great performances of all kinds of formats in various venues throughout the city amongst hundreds of audience members. In an attempt to get right to the point AND provide you with quality reviews of each comic, here is a look at my week at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in roughly 160 characters or less:

Wednesday, 23rd March:

Claire Healy A LITTLE TOO MUCH INFORMATION

In this quaint cabaret performance, Healy demonstrates how much she enjoys being a triple threat: a superb singer, songwriter and piano player. Filled with quirky songs, lyrics and facial expressions, A Little Too Much Information is Healy’s way of allowing her audience to quickly get to know her and vice versa. Be prepared to share! Because it’s fun!

Eileen Williams IRRELEVANT

A theatrical performance that reminds us how not too long ago the value of women was not relevant to a man’s society. Producing laughter from an uncomfortable state of being, IRRELEVANT reminds us how far we’ve come in te fight for equal influence but how much further there still is to come.

Gillian Cosgriff TO THE MOON AND BACK

Cosgriff combines pop-cabaret and comedy with space exploration and thoughts of marriage for a hilariously adorable comedic performance. Bonus: her on-stage costume change is brilliantly smooth and magical! Can’t wait to see more!

Thursday, March 24th

Victoria Healy THE VICK VAN DYKE SHOW

Hard not to like Healy – natural stage presence, down-to-earth comic. Comes with lanky limbs and great facial expressions. Personal fave, and a must see to know who next gen of Aussie comics are.

Mae Martin US

Nothing out of the ordinary from Mae Martin’s set, except her struggles to cope with an untimely bout of sickness. Truly professional, Martin delivers a smoothly structured performance that has broad appeal to many and contains a slightly political message. Filled with stories and anecdotes about her friends’ and family’s reaction to life situations Martin gains laughs by impersonating the people she loves.

Friday, March 25th

Igor Meerson HOU I LERNT INGLISH

Expecting secrets to Putin’s political agendas or insight into daily Russian life will leave you disappointed. Instead, Meerson stretches himself by performing his very first English set and has graciously brought it to Melbourne. This underdog wins with a humble performance and crackling observations about language barriers.!

Nish Kumar LONG WORD…LONG WORD…BLAH BLAH BLAH…I’M SO CLEVER

A hilarious critically acclaimed self-deprecating comedian who is cleverer than actual audience numbers give him credit! His clever point-of-view on life’s most trivial issues, like boasting strong opinions regarding the next Bond actor/songwriter, is a riot! Quality comedy at its best!

Saturday, March 26th

LESSONS WITH LUIS

Commitment to such comic character development leaves you wondering, Is this guy for real? If so, two words sum up this performance: utter genius! Lessons with Luis combines educational entertainment with simple and funny special effects. Brought me back to my childhood watching the American hit kids show, Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Kate Dehnert SHABAMALAM

Dehnert gives her audience LOTS of energy. A set that is morphs from traditional stand up to a schizophrenic dialogue between two characters trapped inside Dehnert’s head, I later found out her performance is an homage to British TV show The Mighty Boosh. Good to keep in mind.

Laura Davis MARCO. POLO.

Returning as a winner of MICF’s 2015 Golden Gibbo Award, Davis makes sure not to let celebrity-ism get the best of her. Using a quirky set and costume choice where she covers her eyes and raises herself on a ladder, Davis moves around the stage without guidance in order to demonstrate her independence. Topically different from last year, but similarly clever in design. One to continually watch in the future!

Sunday, March 27th

Alice Fraser THE RESISTANCE

Endearing, wholesome and catchy original songs makes Fraser’s comedic set so likeable. Taught by people who surrounded her while growing up, she gives back by bringing the joy of laughter to many in her comedy.

Sam Simmons NOT A PEOPLE PERSON

Prop comic genius! A no-holds-barred comic master commands his stage, his audience and more in this raw, side-splitting comedic performance. Multi-award winning comic for a reason, but he doesn’t let the awards stifle his creativity.

Fun Facts About the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

This week marks the beginning of the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  In honour of its 30th year celebration, I would like to present a top 10 list of interesting and fun facts. Did you know any of these interesting facts?  And feel free to add more in the comments below.

Top 10 Fun Facts about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

  1. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the third largest comedy festival in the world behind the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival.
  2. MICF started in 1987 by John Pinder, Barry Humphries and Peter Cook featuring 56 separate shows.
  3. Rod Quantock is the only comedian to perform at all 30 Melbourne International Comedy Festivals.
  4. This year, there are over 130 venues across Melbourne hosting performances during the festival.
  5. The average ticket price for a show at MCIF is $24
  6. The Melbourne Town Hall became the festival’s hub in 1990. In its early years, most performances occured at either the Fitzroy’s Universal Theatre and Melbourne’s historical Anthenaeum Theatre.
  7. In 2010, with an attendance of 508,000 and earning a revenue of AUD$10.9 million the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was ranked as Australia’s largest cultural event.
  8. MICF has a strong reputation amongst comedians/performers as a festival where playing is encouraged. British journalist, Simon Fanshawe says, “ [MICF is] the most relaxed, least fevered and probably the most audience friendly of all the festivals.”
  9. Australian comedian, Josh Thomas is the youngest winner at the age of 17 to have won the MICF Raw Comedy Competition in 2005.
  10. Since 1988, cartoonist Michael Leunig has designed the artwork for the festival program and other advertising materials.

Wishing all the talent involved in MICF a great run! Looking forward to seeing some great acts.

For more information about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, or to purchase tickets please visit www.comedyfestival.com.au.

Highlights from Melbourne’s 2016 White Night

Who saw Melbourne White Night last Saturday?

I did! And I thought it was great. For those of you who don’t know about White Night (I recognise my international readers, HEY!), it is a 12-hour street festival that integrates art and architecture throughout the city. Visual artists are given the chance to display light and sound presentations on the inner and outer-walls of city buildings as a means to celebrate the city, its talented artists and the greater community. For those of you who went, what were some of your favourite features?

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exterior light show.

Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

Circus acts like this silks performer lit up Carlton Gardens.

White Night is quickly becoming a popular tradition in Melbourne – it is one of the many festivals that punters eagerly anticipate. The most difficult part about White Night is managing the increasing growing crowds, leaving many to question when is the best time to attend the all-night event. In my experience, heading out around 11PM works best, for me. By 11PM, the early punters are beginning to disperse, finding their ways home, especially families carrying children along. Also by 11PM other early-bird punters are beginning to transition to the bars for a pick-me-up quencher. But bear in mind, when heading out at 11PM, plan on staying out until anytime between 3-5AM in order to see as much as you can – there is still a large crowd to manage so queues will be long.

Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Pirate mania from Scratch Warehouse performers.

Regardless when you make your way out to the event, what I noticed this year were some new additions to the celebration. I absolutely adored the circus performances that were scattered throughout Carlton Gardens. The silks performance was stunning and kept the attention of many when I was there. I also enjoyed bumping into many musical performances scattered down Swanston Street and side streets.

Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

Alexandra Garden’s elegant dress display.

And then my eyes spirit really lit up when I saw Scratch Warehouse come down Swanston Street as a pirate ship. Performers from Scratch Warehouse dressed all in white garments, painted their faces white with black circles around their eyes and formed themselves into a skeletal design of a pirate ship. As I peered at the passing pirate ship, I found myself joyfully chuckling and appeased to see something different amongst the light shows on buildings and walls.

Did anyone catch those stunning dresses displayed in Alexandra Gardens? They were an elegant addition to the gardens. Set up like a fashion museum exhibition, these Victorian era dresses changed colours from green to purple to red to pink to white. Simply stunning!

AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

AQUA VITAE on the Yarra River.

My favourite presentation was the light display on the Yarra River between Birrung Marr and Alexandra Gardens. Designed on a geyser of water reaching for the sky, the team of Melbourne Water and Russell Goldsmith (Sound Designer and Composer) presented a light show that transitioned from forms, shapes and colours to the beat of mellow-transic music. It was certainly a beautiful wonder to witness.

The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

The Golden Monkey recognises the year of the Monkey in Chinese culture.

Unfortunately, everybody is a critic. Some punters took to Twitter to rant about their personal disappointment regarding the lack of a light display at Flinders Street Station. I’m sure the White Night committee members had very good reasons to not display at Flinders Street Station, and, to be fair, there were MULTIPLE announcements on their Twitter feed and website clearly stating that Flinders Street would not be illuminated. What I wanted more of were presentations by independent performance companies – where are my dancers at? Where are my theatre makers at?

ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

ACMI lights up along Flinders Street.

I hope the City of Melbourne continues bringing us White Night. It’s a great way to integrate both architecture and art during an all night street parade.