Interview – Lorelei Mathias of Lemon Comedy

By Peter Newling

Squirrel caught up with Lorelei Mathias from LEMON Comedy on the eve of the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

LEMON Comedy bills itself as “a global comedy showcase that aims to promote diverse voices in stand-up, and comedy with a cathartic flavour”. Initiated a little over a year ago, the founders set out to find a way to celebrate comedians of colour; female-identifying and gender non-binary comedians; Indigenous comedians; comedians from the LGBTQ+ community; comedians living with mental illness, and comedians living with disability.

Lorelei, one of the co-founders of LEMON tells me that
The name comes from the experience of people of diversity feeling like a lemon – feeling left out or left to one side. Inclusion is about never feeling alone. And that’s what LEMON is all about – inclusion. And it works both for the performer and audience.

Some of their stories shake people out of their comfort zone she says. But for some audience members, the experience makes them feel less alone – sometimes for the very first time. That they’re hearing someone on stage talking about things that are very real to them, and surrounded by a like-minded audience, can be a very liberating and self-affirming.

At the same time, it’s a great avenue through which performers of diversity can get their stories and experiences in front of a paying crowd.

It works for comics feeling less alone, as well as audience members Lorelei says. Comedy has the power to do that.

LEMON comedy has an impressive line up for the MICF. They’re doing five comedy showcases over five nights – April 2 & 9 at their usual home, Hare Hole in Fitzroy; and April 3, 10 & 17 at the Imperial Hotel. They have an impressive array of talent joining them for these events. ABC Radio’s Sami Shah is headlining at the showcase on April 2. Alice Fraser will have that responsibility for the showcase on April 3. And they have an imposing collection of surprise MCs and headliners performing with them over the festival. But I can’t tell you who they are!!

I asked Lorelei how she went about the task of recruiting the big names to perform with the company. She told me that
The response from these star performers to the mission and aspirations of the company is extraordinary. They love the concept. It’s just great. They’re so supportive.

In a profession where one is constantly walking the thin line that separates proper from improper (whatever that is), it’s so good to hear that ‘the cause’ is an important thing to headliners.

I get the feeling that, as the LEMON comedy brand grows, they’re not going to have any trouble securing top quality, diverse acts to work with them.

The masterplan is for a global network of diverse comedy. LEMON is already established in Melbourne and London thanks to the hard work of its founders, Lorelei and Canadian stand-up levy Stamatov. They’d love to hear from anyone who can help them spread the word and establish in other places.

Thanks Also to the hard work of its founders, and co-producers in Melbourne Rose Bishop and Alistair Baldwin

LEMON Comedy have MICF showcases on April 2 & 9 at Hare Hole in Fitzroy; and April 3, 10 & 17 at the Imperial Hotel. Tickets via comedyfestival.com.au or at the door. (There’s a discount if your surname is “Lemon” or citrus related!) You can find out more about them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LEMONCOMEDY) or follow them on twitter @LEMONCOMEDY

Here’s a Trailer: https://www.facebook.com/events/1621054831318617/

The Do’s & Don’t’s of Promoting your Festival Show by comedian George Dimarelos

By George Dimarelos

There are many do’s and don’t’s to getting the word out for your festival show. Here’s a list on some of the more well-known methods.

Friends

DO

Politely ask friends to come along, a lot of the time they genuinely don’t know about the show and are more than happy to come along if asked.

DON’T

Fake your death and schedule the funeral for your opening night. They won’t be as happy that you’re alive as you think.

 

Paid advertising

DO

Think about paid advertising, is it right for you and your audience? After all, if you have a show about rats then it makes sense to post an ad about it in Melbourne Rats Weekly in their thriving ‘things to do about town’ section. Just let Glenda know I recommended you and you’ll get a good price.

DON’T

Pay a witch to promote your show with the dark arts. The animal cruelty is not worth the small increase in audience size.

 

Facebook

DO

Use Facebook, not just the paid advertising but also thinking of communities or groups that would be interested in what you have to talk about. Facebook is the online community noticeboard, use it!

DON’T

Throw books at peoples faces screaming “I LIKE YOU NOW COME TO MY SHOW.”

 

Gigging

DO

Think to yourself “I’ll gig around, the best way to get people to see what I do is to show them some of my moves. If they like me for my 5 minutes they may be interested to see me onstage for a full hour.

DON’T

Think to yourself “I’ll sleep around, the best way to get people to see what I do is to show them some of my moves. If they like me for my 5 minutes they may be interested to see me onstage for a full hour.”

 

Flyering

DO

Plan your flyering for maximum effectiveness, unless you’re superhuman you will have a limited amount of energy to exert on flyering, make sure you use it wisely!

DON”T

Stick flyers to peoples backs without their knowledge, turning them into mini walking noticeboards for your show. Don’t do that unless you want an effective flyering strategy that will get people to your show.

 

Articles

DO

Send Squirrel Comedy an article on 5 Good Reasons To See Your Show.

DON’T

Spend all your time playing Clash Royale on your iPhone and then rush through a lazy half formed article masquerading as something useful.

George Dimarelos is performing Self Sabotage at The Bull & Bear Tavern

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/self-sabotage

A Year’s Round Up and 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.

It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season.  This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly.  There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.

Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.

Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.

Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am?  There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.

Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.

 

5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016
Zoe Coombs Marr
1.  Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.

(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)

sammy-j-award-winner

 

2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.

 

Zanzoop pic

3. Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.

 

4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder) – with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show.Michael Williams 2016 A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!

 

5. True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus. True Australian Patriots

 

Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X

 

Comedy for Christmas in Melbourne

By Lisa Clark

Comedy at Christmas time is the perfect choice for festive celebrations. Sometimes Very Christmassy, sometimes a look at the year gone by (& aren’t we just hanging out for 2016 to have gone bye bye?), sometimes a chance to drink, laugh and forget….  The Comedy Rooms in Melbourne are putting on some Fantastic line ups throughout December and brilliant comedians doing exciting Christmas shows. So organise your bookings, get together with your friends to laugh and forget about the past year and the coming Christmas family obligations.

3 Sat – A Very Judy Christmas – The Butterfly Club

Brendy Ford  as Judy Free

https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/a-very-judy-christmas

4  Sun – Political Asylum – The Brunswick Green

Mathew Kenneally
Toby Halligan
Jess Moir
Tom Ballard
Ben Pobjie
Nicholas J Johnson
& more!

http://blog.politicalasylum.com.au/2016/11/first-show-of-new-trump-tatorship.html

7 Wed – The Wheeler Centre The Show of the Year 2016  – The Atheneum Theatre

Casey Bennetto  Geraldine Quinn , Deborah Conway, Tom Ballard, Geraldine Hickey, Cal Wilson, Danny McGinlay, Jennifer Byrne and more…

http://www.wheelercentre.com/events/the-show-of-the-year-2016

9 Fri –  Tripod Christmas Turkeys – Memo Music Hall in St Kilda

http://3pod.com.au/site/christmas-turkeys/

10 Sat –  Tripod Christmas Turkeys – Memo Music Hall in St Kilda

http://3pod.com.au/site/christmas-turkeys/

15 Thurs –  Sammy J & Randy Land – Xmas Tour – The Atheneum

http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=SAMMRAND16&v=ATT

16 Fri –  Sammy J & Randy Land – Xmas Tour – The Atheneum

http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=SAMMRAND16&v=ATT

17 Sat –  Sammy J & Randy Land – Xmas Tour – The Atheneum

http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=SAMMRAND16&v=ATT

19 Mon – Local Laughs Christmas show – Local Taphouse StKilda

MC Andrew McClelland
The Bedroom Philosopher
David Quirk
Michael Williams
Geraldine Hickey
& More!

21 Wed – Swingin’ Bella Christmas – Bella Union Bar

MCs Casey Bennetto and Geraldine Quinn will be joined by Tim Rogers

https://www.bellaunion.com.au/event/1114/

22 Thur – Swingin’ Bella Christmas – Bella Union Bar

MCs Casey Bennetto and Geraldine Quinn will be joined by Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier

https://www.bellaunion.com.au/event/1114/

23 Fri – Swingin’ Bella Christmas – Bella Union Bar

MCs Casey Bennetto and Geraldine Quinn will be joined by Scott Edgar, Steven Gates & Eddie Perfect

https://www.bellaunion.com.au/event/1114/

24 Sat – Little Dum Dum Club Orphan Christmas – European Bier Café

Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler and their mates.

https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=241442&hs=littledumdumclub.com

 

Interview with Lauren Hayward and Francis Hadid otherwise known as Hayward and Hadid

By Phillip Lescaut

First off, tell me a little about your show for this year, This Is An Excuse.

This is our first comedy festival, and we wanted to find our voice. We wanted to make a show that spoke to women, which was equal parts silly and smart. We’ve put on stage the things we always talk about with our friends but have never seen in a comedy show.

What’s your earliest experience of making people laugh or entertaining? Was it at school, putting on shows for family, etc.?
Hadid: I would say definitely at home. Everyone in my family is funny and with a dark sense of humour. They’re a tough crowd, my grandmother especially; she’s a tough bitch so making her laugh has been reassuring.

Hayward: I always hoped I was funny (I still do). I was a gangly oversized only child with Hollywood dreams and a penchant for Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller movies, but I wasn’t funny yet. Through serendipity and osmosis (and good training) I think I’ve become funnier in my 20’s –away from my parents’ disapproving eye.

Was comedy always the dream? If not, how did you find your way to comedy?

Hadid: Writing has been the dream and Comedy is where I often find myself.

Hayward: Comedy was always the dream, comedy and an unlikely friendship with Tina Fey.

Who or what inspires you in comedy? Do you have a preferred type of comedy you like to watch (eg. standup, sitcoms, movies, etc.)?

We love satirical comedy, with a dark twist, but can’t deny our love for a dick joke. We’ve loved watching The Characters (Netflix), Broad City, and Bob’s Burgers. 

Tell me a bit about your creative process. Do you write a lot? Do you do it alone? Do you only write when you’re inspired or do you have a disciplined schedule like a Jerry Seinfeld?

For us the creative equation is COMEDY = FOOD + LAPTOPS. All we do is eat, gossip and write. We’re our funniest with a full mouth.

Do you prefer to be immaculately rehearsed or are you very loose and ad-lib-by on stage?

Hadid: on the loose side.

Hayward: immaculately rehearsed.

Hayward and Hadid: happy together

If it’s not too painful to think about, what’s the most awkward experience you’ve had on stage? What did you learn from it, and how do you get past a weak night?
We took our show to Adelaide to workshop it in front of a crowd, and boy did we learn some lessons. On our opening night we had four (uninvited, anonymous) reviewers in the audience, and both of our computers crashed 5 minutes before show time. We pushed on (read: flailed) with no tech, had a front row walk out and were heckled by Siri chiming in from an audience member’s phone.

We were crying between changes backstage because it was such a disaster. To make things worse, we had a review in The Advertiser the next day: “In comedy, timing is everything, and the sometimes lengthy pregnant pauses between “costume changes” meant any momentum quickly evaporated”. No shit dickhead, “costume changes” took too long because we were sobbing silently backstage! We learnt to always triple-check our backups, and that nothing can stop us.

What are you proudest of in your career so far?

We’re proudest of our show right now. Since Adel-geddon, we rewrote, refined and reworked the show and we are super proud (and we couldn’t have done it if we hadn’t learned the hard lessons). Our audiences have loved it, and we’ve had so much fun putting it on every night. Not a single tear shed back stage.

Is there anyone at MICF this year that you really want to check out?

Well we’re right at the end of the festival, but we’ve seen so many awesome shows. Of course, everything at our venue, The Improv Conspiracy; it was a treat to see some hilarious and deliciously weird comedy at Feeble Minds (Zanzoop/Sam Campbell) and we were absolutely blown away by Butt Kapinski (Deanna Fleysher) – completely different to us, but totally inspiring. 

What’s been the biggest surprise of your career so far?

Selling out half of our run at our first MICF show has been surprising and pretty special.

One piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?                        

Be nice: everyone is trying their hardest and probably not getting paid.

Be brave: the hardest nights show you what you’re made of, and will definitely pay off.

Be rebellious: not everything has to follow the rule of threes

 

Hayward and Hadid’s debut show This Is An Excuse is on at The Improv Conspiracy

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/this-is-an-excuse-hayward-and-hadid

 

5 Good reasons to see Matt Harvey – Just For Funny: A live comedy podcast

1.  Honestly the festival is huge and unless you’ve “seen them on the telly” picking between unknown comics is hard. We’ve seen them, performed with them, moved among them. This is a hand picked list of comics we trust you will enjoy.

2. You can try us out first. We’re on iTunes so really you’re not even taking a chance on us.

3. There is a roller coaster at our venue. Seriously, if after the show you haven’t had enough fun you can then go ride a roller coaster!

4. Its a live podcast recording, be a part of recorded history. Hear your unique laugh resonate through your headphones in a sort of comedy inception. This may be your chance for immortality, or for your laugh to be immortalised.

5. You like to support local, right? Local bands, local produce, local comedians. Put all your good will into one podcast.

The Just For Funny podcast is being recorded live at Luna Park!

For more information see the MICF website:

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/just-for-funny-matt-harvey