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Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017

If laughter is the best form of medicine then the Melbourne comedy festival will keep you healthy for years on end.

I am a regular attendee with friends, and my daughter, Taylah (21).  One year we attended 26 shows throughout the month-long festival.

Photo: Tracey and Taylah (both in red jackets) and friends meet Joel Creasy

Photo: Tracey and Taylah (both in red jackets) and friends meet Joel Creasy

One thing I love about the festival is attending all the kitsch venues in the city, like The Butterfly Club and The Tuxedo Cat, even the Melbourne Town Hall with all of its little hidden rooms that you never knew existed are a delight. The famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre is also a gorgeous venue and usually acts that are scheduled to perform here are of a high quality.

Last year my son Connor (13) and I saw a weekend of shows together, which included a fantastic Hypnosis show (plenty of opportunity to participate). It’s on again this year, and I would highly recommend it.  Check out Isaac Lomman in ‘Entranced’, and an old favourite, Frank Woodley, who we love. Another great genre for families is the improvisation shows, where audience participation dictates the show.

Tip:  if you are taking your teen to any adult shows just double check the venue is not a licensed venue that doesn’t allow under 18’s - some will allow it.

Tracey, Connor, Josh, Emma, James and I meeting Sammy J and Randy

Tracey, Connor, Josh, Emma, James and I meeting Sammy J and Randy

Throughout the festival, I will usually see a couple of my favourite comedians for straight stand-up comedy.  In addition, I will give a couple of comedians I haven’t ever seen before a go. I also like to mix shows up to include something different, such as sketch, theatre, music and cabaret.  When it comes to musical comedy, I love seeing who the next Tim Minchin might be out there.

 My taste in comedians is fairly varied, (from clean to crude), and I am easily motivated by the little descriptions that are listed under each show in the comedy festival guide. If I laugh at it, I most likely will give it a go – sometimes this can be hit or miss, and you may find yourself in a tiny venue with only eight audience members.  One description that has tickled my fancy this year is a show titled: Double DenimTwo girls. One fabric. No safety harness, no leotards (how can you not love the description).

Tip: if you would rather not be surprised I recommend you hop onto to YouTube and see if you can find a little preview of the comedian to help you decide.

The bigger variety shows are good value for money; they are longer in duration and have a large number of acts appearing. One of my favourites over the years includes ‘Upfront’ which features Geraldine Quinn’s band, Spandex Ballet, and a whole bunch of very talented and well known female comedians.  Another favourite is The Annual Moosehead Awards; this show has many head line comedians performing and is well worth seeing.

To make the most of a night out with the girls, I usually drag my friends to three or four shows. We might see a well-known comedian and then see some cheaper shows to keep costs down. It’s easy to do as most of the shows are only an hour in duration and venue locations are centrally located in the city.

Tip: to save money try attending shows at the very beginning of the festival as these are advertised as being ‘preview nights’ or attend on ‘cheap arse Tuesday’ nights.  Apart from the free shows that appear at the Federation Square main stage there are a couple of other shows that are totally FREE including ‘59 FreeComedy’ and for one night only ‘Comedy out west open mic, with sides’.

There is even a ‘Laugh with Baby’ session at this year’s festival, how awesome for new parents, you don’t need to find a babysitter and the time-slot is great too!  For the easily offended amongst us the ‘Squeaky Clean Comedy’ show is back this year with a line-up of comedians who keep it clean.

Comedians can defiantly be a matter of taste and Taylah has some favourite comedians that I simply do not find funny i.e. Sam Simmons and Paul Foote, however our shared all-time favourites are Hannah Gatsby and Joel Creasy, who will see again this year.

Some other shows that are tickling my fancy this year include:

  • Judith Lucy and Denise Scott in ‘Disappointments’
  • Luke McGregor in ‘Almost fixed it’
  • Nick Cody in ‘On fire’
  • Sammy j in ‘Hero Complex’ (this year Sammy J is performing solo without his loveable purple sidekick Randy L)
  • Nazeem Hussain in ‘Public Frenemy’ – (Nazeem can be seen in this year’s “I’m a celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”)
  • Urzila Carlson in ‘Unacceptable’
  • Jenny Éclair in ‘How to be a middle aged woman (without going insane)’
  • Rhys Nicholson in ‘I’m fine’ (Adult Content Warning)
  • Anh Do in ‘The happiest refugee live’ (loved it the first time will probably go again)
  • Aunty Donna in ‘Big Boys’
  • Improv against humanity – a take on the adult card game
  • Impromptunes in ‘The Completely Improvised Musical’
  • Soap – described as splash filled fusion of circus, comedy, physical theatre and cabaret
  • Ali McGregor’s Late –nite variety-nite night (The famous Spiegeltent)

For the younger ones:

  • Class Clowns Grand Final (13+)
  • Josh Earl in ‘Oliver up a tree’ (6 – 12)
  • Frank Woodley in ‘Noodlenut’ (8+)
  • Improvilicious in The Improvised Guide to Bff’s (10+)
  • The great superhero debate (for the much older geeks in the family)

To have the last laugh make sure you have fun and keep an open mind.

Tracey McLean

Photo: Cazinc    Colouring by Emma Rowland LOL

Photo: Cazinc    Colouring by Emma Rowland LOL

For more information, jump online at comedyfestival.com.au, or grab a coffee, and a copy of the Herald Sun's program to peruse.

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