Review: Week Two of The Melbourne International Comedy Festival

My second week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival brought more joy, more laughter, a wider range of performance styles and presented more opportunities for me to engage with talent after shows. Once again, I am summing up each of my experiences in 160 characters or less to give you some insight as to what you should book now before it sells out and what you can consider holding off from seeing until next year.

Wednesday, March 30th

Felicity Ward WHAT IF THERE IS NO TOILET?

Felicity Ward sets the stage on fire with high energy and a conversational approach to comedy. It’s like talking to your best girl friend, gossiping about life’s most embarrassing yet troublesome moments. One of the best female comediennes in the biz, Ward is a trail blazer for Australian comics!

Jonestown HAPPY CAMPERS

Going on an imaginary camping trip with scoutmasters Sara and Nick is a delightful demonstration of Jonestown’s comedic chemistry as a duo. Enhanced by audience participation where the scoutmasters protect you from going too far (remember, it’s only make-believe) Happy Campers is a fun, campy show for all ages.

Thursday, March 31st

Hamish Parkinson FLY OR DIE

Placing the comedy literally at the audience’s feet, Hamish Parkinson is a fearlessly absurd comedian that shows that he enjoys what he is doing. Like his title states, Fly or Die, Hamish presents a show that commands the audience to either jump into the act or be pushed. Oddly hilarious and incredibly clever!

BUTT KAPINSKI

Involve yourself in the art of storytelling with the gentle guide of Butt Kapinski. From the director of Red Bastard, (MICF 2014), Butt Kapinski asks its audience to pay homage to the genre Film Noir by representing the characters in the story and adding spontaneous hilarity throughout the plot. A unique and wonderous experience if you allow yourself to be open, be free and be involved

Michael Burgos THE EULOGY

For a break away from traditional stand-up or sketch comedy, EULOGY is a theatrical experience crossing multiple art-forms of dance, poetry, music and character impressions. Examining the quirky human behaviour during one of life’s gloomiest moments, EULOGY is MICF’s most endearing comedy event.

Friday, April 1st

DINOSAUR PARK (THE JURASSIC PARODY)

A tribute to the 1993 classic film, Jurassic Park, Dinosaur Park showcases it’s three talented performers re-enacting the film’s iconic scenes in sequence with low-budget imagination and innovation. Simple yet charming and funny, certainly satisfies one’s appetite for quality entertainment.

Rama Nicholas MARY WEATHER’S MONSTER

Shake up your MICF experience by traveling back in time to the late 1800s. Witness Mary Weather’s Monsters for its grand complex storytelling and character work. A theatrical period piece that shines as bright as it’s performer Ramas Nicholas!

Saturday, April 2nd

Dave Thornton SO ON AND SO FORTH

Generic, bland and a few original punchlines. Dave Thornton caters to those interested in traditional stand-up but without much individuality. #sorrynotsorry

Neal Portenza NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA NEAL PORTENZA. TRACEY.

To sum up the genius creativity of Neal Portenza is to say ‘risking it all, literally, for a barrel of laughs!’ Fearless, off-the-cusp and entertaining at every moment, this show sucks in its audience and spits them out leaving them wanting more. Book your ticket(s) NOW!!!

Sunday, April 3rd

THE MIGHTY LITTLE PUPPET SHOW

Improv has its risky side – as discovered during a performance of The Mighty Little Puppet Show! Warning: though generally a very family-friendly show, The Ritas cannot control everything. Regardless, laughs filled the room!

Juan Vesuvius CALYPSO NIGHT: JUAN, TWO?

Combining DJ-ing skills with physical comedy antics, Juan Vasuvius presents an educational and odd-ball look at the art of mash-ups. For a good time, be prepared to laugh, learn about Caribbean Island history and music development and become a part of the antics.

For more information, or to book tickets to The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au.

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.