You Chose Poorly is Alanta’s third science lecture-based comedy show at MICF, first it was bugs then it was bees and now it’s dinosaurs, sorry, Bias. This year she has teamed up with fellow science nerd, comedian Ben McKenzie, who would prefer to talk about dinosaurs, but he chose to perform in this show and it is about the choices we make and the bias inherent in our systems.
This show had a great opening with a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark but it should have begun by preparing you for the interactive 2 min on-line Quiz. The audience could be doing it as they are waiting for the show to start or at least primed with the web address on the screen so everyone can have their phones on and the webside up ready in time for the quiz portion of the show which then helps shape large parts of the rest of the show. By the time we were getting close to being ready the 2 mins for the quiz was over. Our friends did not have phones with them. Also there was no free wifi at the venue which would’ve helped. I’ve done interactive things on phones before, it can be fun but it can also be very stressful. Esp if you have a slow old phone.
This brings us to the other stressful thing about this tech heavy show, I was sitting in the 3rd row and could barely see the screen because of the nature of the space – and a couple of tall people in front of me. The slides contained a lot of very funny things but we could not see them all and sometimes they were rushed. You might have to stand up occasionally to get a good look at the screen. It’s a pity to go on about this because the show otherwise was delightful, and Alana & Ben were heaps of fun to spend an hour with.
What do all geeks have in common? They have to tell you what they are passionate about, usually in great detail, but they don’t all have the communication and comedy skills of Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie. Although they are not really straight standup types they have both been writing comedy and creating comedy shows for some time. I really enjoyed the dynamic between them, Ben was the naughty geek boy wanting to talk about dinosaurs, D&D and superheroes while Alanta kept the show on the rails, bringing it back to finding funny in the science and stats with an occasional political gag on the side. Although this is a show about psychology, science and statistics it is far from dry. Alanta and Ben make sure the laughs keep coming and have a charmingly funny finale.
This is having a short run so get on down to Campari House in Hardware Lane and get your geek on. You will have chosen wisely.
Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie perform You Chose Poorly at Campari House til Apr 7
The 32nd Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been officially
Launched for 2018. Hosted by comedy legends Lano & Woodley, their reunion this year, after 12 years apart, in their new show Fly is one of the big thrills causing quite a buzz in a gigantic, exciting programme. There are more than 620 shows in this years festival. Some of the shows are encore performances and others that we Squirrels managed to catch and review at other festivals.
Feel free to click on the links below and read what we thought of these earlier iterations, keeping in mind that festival shows are ever evolving beasts that change and develop over time, so the new version may be quite different to one we saw.
See a favourite off the telly, See someone you’ve never heard of. Most of all have a wonderful time and keep an eye on Squirrel Comedy as the new reviews roll in and we keep you up to date on what’s happening via our Social Media.
Political Asylum is a comedy night for comedians covering the weightier issues. Hosted by Mathew Kenneally, comedian and lawyer, who along with some other like-minded comedians founded the night in 2009. Matt is a genial host and covers a wide variety of topics in his intro set and in-between guests, from the popular topic of the US president, to marriage equality and how it might affect the over-priced wedding cheeses market.
Toby Halligan is another core member of the Political Asylum team. He compares how things were back when they started nine years ago to now, and how it seems that not much has changed in that time, but reminds us with his funny takes of past presidents and how things have always been terrible.
Sameena Zahra from the UK has hilarious takes on voodoo dolls, the luxury of having bucket lists, and admiration of people’s resilience while being stuck in sniper fire during a visit to family in Kashmir, bringing in some levity.
Australian political comedy stalwart Rod Quantock has given up on everything, it’s all so terrible, and the only reason he’s here tonight, he says, is to keep his run of performing for 31 years at the Melbourne international comedy festival. But luckily he sets the timer and runs us through a very hectic and entertaining history of everything in ten minutes (or so…). As always he is a Political Asylum favourite.
Rod is a hard act to follow, but Jess Moir has amusing jokes likening Trump’s process to choosing cabinet women to witch trials, and fantasy scenarios involving everyone’s favourite president Justin Trudeau.
Canadian comic Mae Martin confidently takes to the stage, and proves popular with the assumptions made about her sexuality when dating, hippy parents, and unusual Christmas wishes.
Alanta Colley delivers a very funny and intelligent set covering Pauline Hanson’s change of mind on vaccinations, and puns on Pauline’s views on Islam, all dealt with a sure wit. Another regular guest Nazeem Hussain gets his laughs from a story about visiting the US just before the elections were held and the interaction he had with a Trump supporter he met at a rally.
Andy Zaltzman headlines and brings the evening to hilarious conclusion with commentary on all manner of topics from his news feed, golfing Trump, global wars, economics, to stranger items like our onion eating ex PM, and the suggestive nature of cucumbers.
There was barely a down moment and it was a surprise to see it had reached 1am when it wrapped up. With the state of the world as it is some the best we can do is take time out to laugh about it. While this was a special one off event at MICF, there’s still a chance to see more at the regular Political Asylum fortnightly show.
Political Asylum Late Night Riot was at the Melbourne Town hall April 8th
For information about future regular gigs go to their website:
The 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back bigger than ever and the Squirrels are here to help you chose which shows to spend your money and time on. There are shows that we have already seen and also some intriguing shows that have piqued our interest.
A number of MICF shows have run prior to the festival and we have already reviewed some of these. We’ll give the usual disclaimer that Festival shows are ever evolving beasts, so the show’s we have covered may have undergone changes (hopefully for the better!) since we saw them.
This is the first ever live version of Andy Zaltzman’s podcast. It promises live guests, people on screens, freshly-hewn satire, lies, puns and high-grade bullshit. Sounds like tonnes of fun. (You can see his own standup show too, sold separately)
The last time Daniel performed here in 2015 it was with his astonishing, gorgeous, experimental play Polyphony. It involved 20 pre-recorded characters (played by actors and comedians) on MP3players being played by audience members. I was lucky enough to see it towards the end of the run, on a night when it all ran beautifully and it blew my mind. If audience participation was the comedy trend, Daniel fashioned it into couture art. We’ve missed out on a lot of his finished shows in Melbourne over the past ten years but he’s making up for it by giving us Three types of Kitson, including a filmed show we never got to see.
1.Stories For The Starlit Sky with Gavin Osbourne
Actually 3 plays in one (of his 3 shows). It will be long, why not bring a packed lunch? 3 of his delightful heartwarming and funny stories from Daniel with Gavin on the Guitar.
2.Not Yet But Soon – A Work in Progress Stand up Show.
Well its another work in Progress, but having done it in Sydney before Melbourne it should be fairly well formed. An hour and a half, but knowing Daniel probably longer. Its mostly on late too, 10 pm so have a little nap during the day.
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne – March 30th to April 16th(Various dates and times)- https://goo.gl/bry3Tv
3.It’s Always Right Now Until It’s Later – On Film
A 7 year old show we never got to see in Australia, but here it is preserved forever on film and Daniel will be there to introduce it.
A comedy night for charity produced by our own Erin Davidson and we can promise you she has organised a cracker of a lineup. Names she cannot name, but some of the top names in Australian comedy and this may be the only place during the festival you get to see some of them. Also you get to laugh for a good cause.
Josh has hooked up with Daniel from Die Roten Punkte and they promise famous guest stars in this mini comedy music festival. I’ve had a bit of a taste of this one and it has got my mouth watering for more.
Michael Williams: Escape from a 90s Educational CD-ROM!
One of the recipients of this year’s Moosehead Grants, you can always be rely upon Williams to present an inventive and hilarious show. Last year he was one of our favourites, with the added Moosehead creative seal of approval, this is sure to be a doozy!
Hero Complex was the Talk of Melbourne Fringe and the talk was: “Have you Seen it? You HAVE TO SEE IT!!!” We were so glad we did. It won Best Comedy Show at Melbourne Fringe 2016 and has just won the first Weekly Award for comedy at Adelaide Fringe 2017. It is side achingly hilarious, and face hurtingly joyous. It’s better to go in knowing as little as possible; yes it is about Sammy J’s love for The Phantom but also about much, much more.
Five audience members – in one caravan – with three spiteful old grannies – for 15 minutes. These terrifying characters by Thomas Jaspers, Kyle Minall and Scott Brennan will be more so in such close quarters and sure to be hilarious.
After scaring the stuffing out of laughing audiences at the Old Melbourne Gaol during the 2015 Melbourne Fringe, Watson (Adam McKenzie, Liam Ryan and Tegan Higginbotham) return with a show of frights and laughs. Another Moosehead recipent so expectations are high.
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 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)
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.
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. 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.
Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X
This is an impressive debut festival show from Alanta Colley. I knew Alanta was a brilliant writer, because of her past work for Squirrel Comedy, but sadly, she left us to pursue her need to perform. Over the past year I’ve heard some lovely things from others who’ve seen her work. Now it’s my turn to gush about what a wonderful talent Alanta is on stage.
Alanta is a Health Educator and has worked in some of the most dangerous places on Earth, so no wonder that comedy gigs are a piece of cake for her. Parasites Lost is a show full of her adventures in these dangerous places, like Uganda, East Timor and Cambodia and about her fascination with nasty, sneaky parasites that can cause scary diseases. If you are squeamish, there are some pretty gruesome pics of what parasites get up to, but Alanta provides plenty of Trigger Warnings so that you have time to look away. Also her stories are so engrossing that you won’t mind.
With her United Nations work it is not surprising that Alanta is politicallly savvy and has been doing some great comedy work with Melbourne political comedy collective Political Asylum. Alanta warms the audience with some topical humour and every now and then through Parasites Lost she has fun throwing in political zingers. When you are talking about parasites, how can you resist?
Parasites Lost is a comedy lecture of sorts about a fascinating topic that Alanta has researched and experienced, it has been cleverly structured with witty chapter headings and amusing, if occasionally alarming, slides. Alanta takes this further, proving that she is mastering standup comedy, with great gags rolling throughout her show, clever call backs and knowing exactly where the comedy is in her stories. She is also a delightful presence on stage, an enchanting story teller steering the audience brilliantly through the amazing journey, and her infatuation with tropical diseases is indeed, infectious.
Alanta Colley Performs Parasites Lost at The Butterfly Club until Sun Sept 25