Melbourne International Comedy Festival: A Quick Guide
One of the largest comedy festivals in the world is back.
The annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival kicks off on March 29 and runs until April 23 across hundreds of venues throughout the city. The lineup is huge, boasting plenty of fresh, new acts as well as some classic, much-loved comics from here at home and across the globe. With so many incredible shows to catch, it’s near-impossible to know which to see first. Here’s our guide to a few of the best acts to look out for – but the talent, and choices, are endless.
For a full run-down of all the acts across the whole festival, click HERE.
David O’Doherty (IRL) : Big Time
March 30 – April 23
Following a Barry nomination for Best Show at the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Fesitval, Irish comedian David O’Doherty returns to Australia with his new stand-up show, Big Time.
Self-described as a “very, very low budget Enya,” O’Doherty and his tiny, electronic keyboard from 1986 are coming off a year-long solo tour of Europe and America with musical comedy duo Flight of the Concords to once again delight Australian audiences with a few tunes that are in equal parts delightfully whimsical and hilariously self-loathing.
Hannah Gadsby (AUS): Nanette
March 30 – April 23
You might know her from her performance in acclaimed ABC TV comedy-drama, Please Like Me, or you might just know her from her excellent stand-up comedy. Hannah Gadsby is no stranger to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, as a two-time nominee for the Barry Award at the 2011 and 2013 Festivals, and a three-time nominee for the Best Comedy Performance Helpmann Award.
This year, she’s back with a new show, Nanette, which will no doubt be characterised by Gadsby’s uniquely earnest and self-reflective, but at all times still hilarious, sense of humour. Be sure to put this show on your list.
Arj Barker (USA): Organic
March 31 – April 16
Over the past decade, Arj Barker has spent more time in our country than his own, and has quickly become one of Australia’s favourite comedians. Now, he’s back for ten nights only to make some pointed and insightful observations about our own home and culture that even we probably haven’t noticed.
According to Arj, his new show, Organic, uses only the finest free-range comedic topics, nurtured until brimming with wholesome hilarity, and ready for the telling. While we’d highly recommend checking this show out while he’s here for the Festival, you can bet good money he’ll likely be back in the neighbourhood again very soon.
The Bear Pack (AUS)
April 7 – April 22
Made up of only two members, Steen Raskopoulos (Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia, BBC’s Top Coppers) and Carlo Ritchie (The Checkout, Big Head Mode), The Bear Pack will bring you the most incredible and entertaining sixty minutes of your life. This long-form improvised story-telling show is inspired only by suggestions taken from the crowd each performance. Raskopoulos and Ritchie craft absolutely hilarious and impressively narratively complex tales totally on-the-fly, with physical comedy skills and back-and-forth banter that is so perfect and funny you could hardly believe it’s not rehearsed. Trust us, it’s not.
Very aptly described by The Sydney Morning Herald as “masters” of improvisational comedy, The Bear Pack is an absolute must-see at the Festival this year.
Becky Lucas (AUS) : Little Bitch
March 30 – April 23
Becky Lucas is one of Australia’s most quick-rising comedy stars. If you’ve been getting amongst the comedy scene lately, you’ve likely seen her around. She’s opened for some of Australia’s biggest comedy acts – including Wil Anderson, Jim Norton and Joel Creasy – and appeared on TV (ABC, Comedy Channel) more than a few times over the past year. That’s not to mention her writing credits, which include Emmy-nominated Please Like Me and Matt Okine’s upcoming show set to premiere on Stan.
This year will be her third appearance at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and if you haven’t seen her perform before, now’s your chance. Even if you have seen her before, she’s a definite must-see for anyone’s comedy festival list.
Matt Okine (AUS) : We Made You
March 30 – April 2
Having just ended his time as a breakfast radio show host at ABC’s much-loved Triple J, Okine has since been focussing on his solo comedy career. He is, however, by no means new to the scene. In 2015, he took out the prestigious Director’s Choice Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for his show, The Other Guy, as well as the ARIA Award for Best Comedy Release for his stand up show, Matt Okine Live at the Enmore Theatre.
This year’s festival marks his sixth solo show, and if his previous accolades are anything to go by, it’s not one to miss.
Stephen K Amos (UK) : Talk Show
April 8 – April 9
Among the many incredible stand-up shows coming to the Comedy Festival in 2017, Talk Show is a fun and delightfully funny diversion from the usual solo act. It is, as you may have guessed, structured in a talk show-style, and is hosted by famed British comedian, Stephen K Amos as he is joined by some very talented special guests from across the entertainment industries.
Mediated by Amos’ charm and penchant for skillful, witty banter, Talk Show is guaranteed to be a highly entertaining evening filled with hilarious jokes, skits and wonderful performances. But be sure to book soon, because it’s only running for two nights.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival is on from March 29 until April 23. For all the details and a full program of events, head to their website here.