Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2013 Program Launch

By Lisa Clark

Aaaaaaand we’re off! The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was officially launched today at The Famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre with deliciously dry host Hannah Gadsby being appropriately disrespectful toward the ‘VIP’s and cheeky to the officiating Lord Mayor. Most comedians are interstate or overseas, with the Adelaide Fringe Festival in full swing, but spotted in the audience were Lawrence Leung (Part-Tme Detective Agency), Aamer Rahman (The Truth Hurts), Brian Nankervis (Rockwiz), Andrew Goodone (voice of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala), Janet A McLeod(Cinema Fiasco), Jessie Ngaio (Slutmonster & Friends), Hayman Kent (The Comedy Zone).

Over champagne and lamingtons we were given a taste of some of this year’s talent and the official speeches. Bite sized performances to whet our appetites for the Festival were served up by Moosehead Awarded Kate McLennan & Wes Snelling in Double Standard which will be performed in a hotel room at The Blackman (Justin Bieber stayed there apparently) as well from Windmill Theatre who dazzled us with some nerdy choreographed energetic bike riding from their show School Dance.

From Festival Director Susan Provan we learned that this year there are over a (record breaking) thousand participants in RAW comedy, Matt Okine will be this year’s host for the National Grand Final and that for the first time one of the finalists will be drawn from India. She also spoke about a new movement of comedians who are proving themselves on YouTube and have well selling shows at this year’s MICF despite not having tread the boards in comedy clubs. The Festival crew are particularly proud that this year’s program features an entire page of Daves. (p49, though in one case it’s not the name of the comedian)

We were all given the first programs to study, and they’ll be out for the general public with sponsors The Herald Sun on Saturday 23rd of February. We’ve previously reviewed some of the shows on offer and will be doing a story about that soon. We’re also currently publishing lots of “5 Good Reasons to see” MICF shows to give you more information in helping to organise your Festival calendar. We’ll be bringing more interviews, news and reviews as they come in. So stay tuned to Squirrel Comedy for all your Melbourne International Comedy Festival information.


5 Good Reasons to see  Slutmonster and Friends.
1. It’s a musical comedy starring a pink polar-fleece monster with furry boobs and a giant fluffy cock.

2. We were awarded ‘Highly Commended in Comedy’ at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe, so it’s a fairly safe bet we’re not shit.

3. We’ve been practicing a cool move and we want you to see it.

4. We can be your secret shame, like an occasional sex partner who won’t stop chuckling during intercourse, and it fully creeps you out in a sort of carnival clown way but it’s actually so gross that you’re also kind of into it, but you’ll never admit it, not even to yourself.

5. All profits raised from the show will be great.


5 Good Reasons to see The Moulin Beige.
1. Because it is a VARIETY show which is WAY more digestible than an hour of the same thing.  I simply can’t do a whole block of Bega but give me the cheese platter any day.

2. (still on the cheese platter metaphor) Stand up comedian on a cracker anyone?  Mmm… that hoola hoopist goes really well with a dry white.  Have you tried the low fat burlesque with bocconcini?

3. Oh yes and The Moulin Beige is in a bar, so you can drink or six while you watch the show- Genius.

4. And we have an interval, so you can catch up with your friends or even go for a pee!  Double genius.

5. Because flying to France to see The Moulin Rouge is way over rated… we are in Fitzroy and much, much funnier (especially if you’re drunk).


5 Good Reasons to see Max Attwood’s Am I Better Than Gandhi?
1. You have often caught yourself wondering if you’re better than famous and historical figures, and want someone to address this strange quandary in a humorous and ultimately witty manner.

2. Being unemployed, how difficult dating is, Ricky Nixon- these are the jokes that are going to be in every show this year, but not this one! This show has jokes about toddler armies, sexy Mother Teresa and evolutionary hooves.

3. It will be genuinely thought provoking. No, seriously, it will provoke thought in you. You’ll have a thought. Maybe even a think.

4. There’s a slim chance that you think I am your long lost father and you want to meet me in person to confirm your suspicions. However, upon seeing me you realise I’m way too young to be your dad but you stick around because I’m in the middle of an awesome stand-up show.

5. It would be really good for my self-esteem.

5 Good Reasons to see Jason Chatfield, The Axis of Awesome & Blernshaw Comedy @ MICF 2013

Jason Chatfield- Stand Up Comic Strip Live.

1.  You won’t see anything like this in any other pub. Ever.
2.  If you like drawing, animation, cartoons or drawing animated cartoons, you’re going to LOVE this show.
3.  I do funny stories and me little skits that I’ve been working on for the last 5 years.
4.  Please. I need this.
5.  This is my first solo show. Then I’m moving overseas. It’s something of a farewell show.


The Axis of Awesome-  Cry Yourself a River

1. We didn’t start the fire
2. It was always burning Since the world’s been turning
3. We didn’t start the fire
4. We didn’t light it
5. We tried to fight it


Blernshaw Comedy

1. Audience participation in a show titled “So You’ve Decided To Host An Orgy
2. A five foot long rubber tentacle
3. Fabulous audience giveaways!
4. A lot of our sets are improvisational, so you will never see the exact same show twice
5. We’re actually presenting three different shows but are too cheap to pay for separate listings, so we will have a fantastic variety between stand up, theatrical and vaudeville, depending which week you come see us (or a three show pass is available)

Set List: Stand-up Without A Net. The TV Series.

By Jayden Edwards

“Set List- Stand up Without a Net” the international hit show that has comedians shitting themselves the world over, is coming to our TV screens.

Set List invites willing comedians to jump up on stage and tackle a never before seen list of topics and spin out a fully improvised routine in front of a live audience.

The original concept is the brainchild of US comedians and film makers Troy Conrad and Paul Provenza. After experimenting with the show in comedy rooms in and around Los Angeles, Set List has set up shop around the world in front of sell out crowds, including London, Edinburgh and at our own Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The show has attracted some of comedies biggest names and delighted audiences, giving them the clearest possible view of a comedians inner-most workings. All this hype eventually attracted the attention of UK Television network Sky Atlantic, who commissioned the 14 part series, showing here on ABC2.

The TV series was filmed in the US and the UK last year and sees the likes of Robin Williams, Ross Noble, Drew Carey, Tim Minchin, Rove McManus and more, take on the Set List challenge.

Episode one, premiering 9.00pm Thursday January 24 on ABC2, sees Robin Williams, Matt Kirshen and Eddie Pepitone step up to the mic. All very different comedians, it’s great to see how they approach the task in their own style. Robin, as you’d expect, pulls out some wacky voices and whimsical tales to get him through, while Eddie employs a lot of swearing and yelling to keep the laughs coming while he’s thinking. Yeah, some of the jokes miss, but the fun in Set List is seeing the comedians find the hits, it’s like a spectator sport, everyone loves a car crash as much as a triumph!

The TV format adds another layer to the successful live show by mixing the comedians performances with behind the scenes footage and pre and post show interviews, so you really get to see the acts sweat and panic before jumping up on stage, and their reaction straight after their set. The camera gets right in the comedians faces during their set, showing their gears turning and brows sweating. These are all great techniques that puts the viewer on the other side of the fence, it feels like it’s you and the comedian vs the audience, a whole different experience to being an audience member at the live show.

Set Lists transition to television was always at risk of losing it’s edge and underground live room feel, but the doco style filming, basic set and lack of host ensure none of that is lost, no glitz, just raw stand up inprov.

The show is produced for the UK, so there’s a few names that may not be so familiar with Aussie audiences, but plenty that will. Hopefully they’ll film some in Melbourne in the future!

Set List the TV show is a highly entertaining, nerve-wracking journey into the unknown, make sure you check it out.

Starts 9.00pm Thursday January 24 on ABC2

Interview with Ben McKenzie about the Splendid Chaps podcast which celebrates Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary

By Lisa Clark

We love it when comedians push the envelope and do something interesting and outside the box. Especially when it involves something they really care about. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who and geeky stand up comedian Ben McKenzie and creator of the best gay, scifi sitcom ever, Outland John Richards, have committed themselves to producing a monthly podcast discussing the history and influence of The Doctor. Each month the podcast will focus on a different Doctor (Eleven actors have played The Doctor so far – though this can be contentious, Wikipedia says it is eleven and they must be right…) and also cover a theme important to the world of Doctor Who. They promise guests, laughs and surprises.

Why have you decided to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who with a live podcast?

BEN: I’ve had some limited podcast experience, appearing on other people’s – including John Richards’ one, Boxcutters – and I’ve been planning to make my own for some time. (I’m hoping to start another one, about games, later this year.) I also knew I wanted to do something special for the fiftieth anniversary, since I’ve not really publicly celebrated my love for the show before. It seemed natural to combine the two. Once I made the connection between eleven months from January to the anniversary itself and the number of Doctors, a monthly podcast seemed the way to go – but I wanted it to have a community feel, to be something special. I’ve been to many of the “Live in the Studio” events at ACMI, which are live discussions recorded and later podcast, and that seemed like just the basic format I was looking for, so with a couple of tweaks Splendid Chaps was born! I asked John to co-host, since we have been on many nerd dates discussing Doctor Who and we’ve wanted to work together for a while – plus he’s got loads of podcasting experience. He was the perfect choice!

I can see the sci/fi comedy backgrounds in both you and John, did you bring different perspectives in how to approach this?

BEN: I think so. I know how to run a live show; John knows how to produce a podcast. And we each have contacts relevant to proceedings.

How did you bring the rest of the group together and will it be the same group for each podcast or will they change?

BEN: The plan is to have different guests and record in a different venue every episode – we already have plans to go to Adelaide, and we’ll hopefully head up to Sydney too. We’re like the TARDIS, popping up all over the place, with an ever changing crew!

So where did the Name come from?

BEN: It’s from a couple of famous lines in the twentieth anniversary special, ‘The Five Doctors’. The Brigadier describes the Doctor: ‘Wonderful chap. All of them.” and later “Splendid chaps, all of you.” The popularly quoted version is a mashup of the two, but it’s become the stock answer for anyone who doesn’t wish to name a specific favourite Doctor.

What exactly is going to happen in the podcast? (Just chat? Serious chat? Nostalgia chat? Comedy skits?)

BEN: It’s a discussion podcast, so there aren’t skits – and I don’t want to give too much away! But basically John and I will host a panel discussion with our guests about the era in question, and then about the theme. We’ll finish off with a performance by a special guest – probably

I understood that each podcast was going to celebrate an incarnation of the Doctor, (I’m looking forward to Tom Baker in April – during the Comedy Festival – How appropriate!) What’s with the ‘theme’ and why have a theme on top of focusing on Doctor of the Month?

BEN: The theme is important because Splendid Chaps is intended to be something new. The Doctors themselves, and their eras, have been discussed and written about to death, and while we want to talk about them, we also want to talk about the many things the show has been over 50 years, and talk about things that haven’t been discussed as often. It’s also a way of making every episode relevant to a broader fan base; you might only be into the new series, but while Episode One will talk about William Hartnell, our examination of Authority in Doctor Who will cover the show throughout its history.

What sort of audience are you expecting? I suspect the live audience will differ to the wider podcast audience, will this appeal to the serious Whovian?

BEN: I’m not quite sure. I think initially our audience will be people who like John and myself! But yes, I think we’ll appeal to serious fans, though hopefully we’ll be accessible and interesting to anyone who’s curious about thinking deeper about Doctor Who.

Will this appeal to the casual watcher who may only know the modern Who?

BEN: I hope so! The new series, while a vastly different show to the ones that came before, still wears its links to the past on its sleeve, and I’d like to think most fans are interested in where it comes from. Perhaps our discussions will be a good starting point for fans who’ve not watched any “classic” Who!

How long will the Live recording  as compared to the finished product take do you think?

BEN: The plan is to allow 90 minutes, including time for an interval. This will be edited down to under an hour for the podcast, so you’ll get to hear exclusive stuff if you’re at the show!

You have got an exciting guest for the first show – original Cyberman costume designer Alexandra Tynan, do you hope to have serious Who related guests for each show?

BEN: We’re not planning that, but when we get the opportunity to speak with people who’ve worked on the show, we’ll certainly take it!

Have you got a favourite Doctor, alien or Episode?

BEN: I think you know the answer to the first one: splendid chaps, all of him! I still think ‘Caves of Androzani’ is my favourite story, though I also love A ‘Christmas Carol’. I have a favourite or two for each Doctor as well.

There is a preliminary podcast Zero where Ben and John sit in a café and chat about Doctor Who and what they hope the Podcast will be

The first podcast celebrating William Hartnel will be recorded on Sunday 13th of January at The Bella Union Bar, special guests will include Geraldine Quinn and Dr Who Costume designer of the original 1966 Cybermen, Alexandra Tynan (aka Sandra Reid). Be aware that late comers will not be admitted, because they are recording, so be punctual!

The Splendid Chaps Podcasts will be released on the 23rd of each month.

For more information, bookings for the live shows, future downloads etc check their website

Front Page

Like them on Facebook

RAW Comedy Applications

RAW is an open mic competition open to comedians from all over Australia. Heats of the competition are held in each state every year and the grand Final takes place  on April 14th during the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. All heats are judged by famous comedians and top people in the industry with the first qualifying heat  starting in Melbourne in early January.

Taking part in RAW is pretty much seen as a right of passage in the comedy world in Australia. Most comedians have their RAW stories and agree that even if they don’t win, the learning experience is invaluable and can lead to successful careers. There are even working comedians who’s very first stage experience was at a RAW heat.

Applications for RAW have now opened and forms can be found on their website. The RAW heats will be held in 10 locations between January and March 2013.

Some basic rules include that you must be at least 17 years old at your first heat, must have earned less than $500 from comedy and that your 5 minute spot must be totally original. The full guidelines are on the website.

Last year’s winners were Lessons with Luis who not only won Best Newcomers at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival but have also been granted a Moosehead Award for their 2013 show.

Previous winners include Josh Thomas (2005), Hannah Gadsby (2006), Neil Sinclair (2008) and Michael Workman (2009).

Previous contestants who did not win the grand final include Tim Minchin, Chris Lilley, Peter Helliar, Tom Ballard, Claire Hooper, Mike McLeish, and Ronny Chieng.

A full list of winners can be found on our Awards page.

Details about RAW Applications can be found at the Raw Website