For comedians, being a relationship has a twofold benefit. Presumably, it makes them happy, but it also yields plenty of material for their shows. Usually, the comic’s partner gets no say, no right of reply. But Business with Pleasure is different, featuring two comedians – Australia’s Anne Edmonds and Welshman Lloyd Langford – trading barbs, slights, and outright reproach about the state of their two-year relationship. ‘We don’t have to stay 1.5 metres apart’, Edmonds reminded us, all the while standing at least that distance away from Langford on stage.
Edmonds bounded onto the Comedy Theatre’s stage, with Langford sauntering behind her, immediately illustrating their contrasting comedic styles. The show began with these funny exchanges, interspersed with some obligatory remarks about how great it was that comedy has returned to Melbourne. It seemed Edmonds had the more grievances in the relationship, and Langford was struggling to keep up in the roasting contest.
Edmonds and Langford gave each other the space to perform a good 20-30 minutes of their solo material. Although, ironically, some of the best parts of these sets occurred when the other partner interjected from backstage, briskly contradicting the point being made. Edmond’s material was solid, revolving around the interesting habits she developed during lockdown, her experience on Real Dirty Dancing with ‘C-grade celebrities’, and the unfounded confidence of single dads. She was unremittingly boisterous and energetic, which many have come to expect.
Langford followed, with a lewder set than Edmonds’. Much of his humour was predicated on his laconic demeanour and excruciatingly monotone voice. It really seemed like he has developed a complete understanding of his comedic powers. Langford’s timing was crucial in executing his tightly-constructed jokes about the absurdity of adult male ‘gangs’, a massage he had in Thailand that went wrong, and the experience of visiting a fertility clinic. Despite his lower public profile, Langford certainly kept pace with Edmonds.
They closed the show by answering randomly-selected audience questions. Unfortunately, many of the questions asked were self-indulgent and, on the whole, inane. Yet, one of them – what Edmonds’ and Langford’s combined name would be – was both hilarious and telling. ‘Anlloyd’, Langford quipped, leaving the audience in raptures. Although both were readily prepared to mock each other, it clearly came from a place of love and mutual respect among comedic professionals.
Business with Pleasure is showing at the Comedy Theatre until 11 April. Tickets can be purchased here:
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award for the best show: James Acaster (UK) – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999
Anne Edmonds- What’s Wrong With You?
Cassie Workman – Giantess
Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well
Nath Valvo – I’m Happy For You
Tom Allen (UK) – Absolutely
The Best Newcomer: Blake Freeman – There’s Something There
Dan Rath – Bubble Bath
Nina Oyama – Needs a Lift
Oliver Coleman – Poolside
The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production): Neal Portenza & Joshua Ladgrove –Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove
Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Game Boys – Game Boys Cinematic Universe
Lauren Bok – Rock Out With Your Bok Out
Margot Tanjutco – Vanity Fair Enough
Oliver Coleman – Poolside
Patrick Collins – Mime Consultant / Patrick Collins And the Magic Shoe
People’s Choice Award: Urzila Carlson Loser
This award signifies that Urzila Carlson sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.
The Directors’ Choice Award: Aaron Chen – Piss Off (Just Kidding)
Presented by Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director Susan Provan
The Pinder Prize: Sam Taunton – Straight From The Shoulder & Steph Tisdell – The Pyramid
This Award funds their trips to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival. It was presented by Demi Lardner
Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians): Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well
Presented by Greg Fleet who created the Award and Heath Franklin last year’s winner.
Funny Tonne Winner: John Souness
Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Fabian Woods
RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Fady Kassab (NSW)
Fady has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?. RAW Runners-Up: Suraj Kolarkar (QLD) and Laura Hutchinson (WA)
Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Patti Fawcett (Bendigo South East College, VIC) Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Whose My Parents? (Ben Depoma, Cyrus James-Hankin, Soren Pryor) from St Theresa’s Catholic College Abergowrie, QLD, and Nic Doring (Alexandria Park Community High School NSW)
This year instead of being presented in the middle of the night at the Festival Club as is traditional, The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were instead presented at 1pm in the afternoon at Belleville. It was more relaxed and civilised with drinks and nibblies (and better lighting for photos) and it was great knowing that everyone in the room was involved and invested in the results, but sort of sad that it was restricted to invite only. I was very lucky to be invited, but other fans on the rim of the festival, but just as invested would have been sad (as I was when this happened once in the past) to not be a part of that middle of the night wild excitement and joy when a favourite, or someone you’ve discovered wins an award.
I can’t deny that there was some surprise as well as delight for Sam Campbell’s win. Although he has been performing in Sydney for a while and getting some TV work (you may have seen him on The Checkout), he’s still pretty much under the radar of the general public. We fell in love with his work when we saw Zanzoop! early in it’s run in 2016 and spent the rest of the Festival telling anyone who would listen that they should go and see the strange talk show hosted by a wise cracking alien in a back alley nightclub. This year we loved both shows he was involved with; his own, The Trough and Anne Edmond’s Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinnaker Lounge where he played Helen’s long suffering, very awkward son Connor.
2018 AWARD WINNERS
Barry Award, for the best show: Sam Campbell The Trough
Nominees for The Barry Award:
Alex Edelman (USA)- Just for Us
Anne Edmonds – as Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinaker Lounge
Tim Key (UK) – Megadate
Lano & Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley) – Fly!
Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Horndog!
Celia Pacquola – All Talk
Natalie Palamides (USA) – Laid
The Best Newcomer: Danielle Walker Bush Rat
This award was presented by Sarah Dodds of Soho Theatre who will be bringing Danielle to London to make her Debut at The Soho Theatre.
Nominees for The Best Newcomer Award:
Paul Williams(NZ) – Summertime Love
Stephanie Tisdell – Identity Steft
Garry Starr – Performs Everything
Lewis Garnham – The Smartest Idiot You’ll Ever Meet
Nadia Collins – Virgin Bloody Mary
The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production):
Cam Venn for Charles Horse Lays An Egg
The prize is a Bottle of Red Wine and was presented by Lynda Gibson’s Niece Emma Maye Gibson, also known as Betty Grumble
Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Sophie Joske and Anna Piper Scott – Almost Lesbians
Garry Starr – Performs Everything
Julia Rorke & Elysia Hall – Not Another F***** B**** In India
Michelle Brasier & Laura Frew
(Double Denim) – Double Denim AdventureShow]
People’s Choice Award: Lano & Woodley – Fly!
This award signifies that Fly! sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.
The Directors’ Choice Award: Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew for Double Denim Adventure Show
The Pinder Prize: Demi Lardner – I Love Skeleton
This Award funds her trip to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival.
Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians): Heath Franklin – Bogan Jesus
Funny Tonne Winner: Alasdair Bryant (76 Shows)
Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Leon Filewood (QLD)
RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Bec Melrose (NSW)
Bec has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?. RAW Runners-Up: Gavin Sempel (VIC), Emma Holland (ACT)
Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Liam Adam, Carlin Carruth & Kyle Bennett (QLD) as ‘Awkward’! Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Dusty Diddle (VIC),
Nina Cowley-Mousinho (QLD)
Shiloh Rea (QLD)
Nicholas Doring (NSW)
In 2017 I decided to set a challenge for myself to write up every show that I saw in my Lisa’s Live Comedy Big Year Blog. Well. As you can see, it became harder to keep up with in the second half of the year, even though it seems that is when things are usually quieter, I was wrong and life stayed pretty busy and when it was not it was because I was ill. I still kept other records of my gigs and so was able to list them all, but not reviews sadly, so I don’t have reviews of a lot of my comedy experiences for the last part of the year. I also wanted to keep a pictorial record of gigs, but it’s not always possible to take photos and even in the regular comedy rooms, I was not good at taking subtle photos and got caught out and commented upon/told off. Then my flash went off by mistake. Arrrggghhh! So I gave up on my own photos and got some much better ones from room runners or friends with more experience.
Of course I spent a lot of time at my regular comedy haunt Local Laughs, but managed to visit several other rooms as well. I have had a lot of wonderful comedy experiences this year, especially during the trip to the UK which included seeing Daniel Kitson’s Something Other Than Everything at the Roundhouse in London and two weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where highlights included seeing The Doug Anthony Allstars still making jaws drop in their home away from home, new discovery Jayde Adams just blowing the room away at The Pleasance media showcase with her surprising vocal talent and the hilarious story that goes with it, seeing Yianni do his best work in some time because it came from his life and his heart, Adam Vincent slaying packed rooms with deep dark tales of suburbia and playing interactive Wifi Wars at midnight.
Other highlights of the year include the final shows of the debauched boutique comedy legend that was The Shelf and in particular the performance of Fringe Wives Club who brought the house down and made everyone rush out to see their show. Andy Zaltzman did the searing political comedy, Plan Z, that everyone had expected from Ex Bugler John Oliver when he last toured and finally I adored Sammy J’s Magnum Opus – Hero Compex for a 2nd time, to find it had evolved, as the story had in real life and it was joyful to watch everyone’s jaw dropping and howling with laughter as the story unfolded, knowing where it was going. Under the radar: Not enough people were talking about UK comedian Kieran Hodgson at MICF but my goodness Maestro was a gorgeous show and the joyful weirdness of Aussie duo The Lioness who’s show Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock had a much too short run in an out of the way venue.
Its always hard sorting out a shortlist of the best comedy shows. I have picked out 5 outstanding experiences and they are set down in the order that I saw them.
5 VERY GOOD SHOWS OF 2017
Wil Anderson Fire at Wilat The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. January 22
Lineup: Wil Anderson, Supported by Justin Hamilton
January’s highlight was definitely seeing Wil Anderson and Justin Hamilton in a theatre full of excited fans. Both consummate comedians at the top of their game. Am determined to see Wil’s solo show this year and looking forward to it. I’ve been missing seeing Justin around the traps since he moved to Sydney but am hoping to see more of Wil Anderson, now he’s taken a job in Melbourne breakfast radio.
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette April 6
Hannah’s final festival show was indeed a showstopper. It was a show about the Zeitgeist, about equal rights, about truth – in life and in comedy, about standing up and being listened to. It was powerful, moving and of course funny. A masterpiece of Standup. During her interview on Comedian’s Comedian at MICF, Stuart Goldsmith shrewdly asked what would happen if this amazing show won all the awards, like The Barry and even the Edinburgh Fringe Best Comedy award?
Would she still quit comedy? Well all of those predictions have come to pass (including a Helpmann Award along the way) and Hannah is still going strong. Having sold out many shows at the Victorian Arts Centre and The Sydney Opera House she is adding further shows this month to the Opera House, followed by Perth and then a month from February in London at the Soho Theatre. They are selling out.
All comedians should go out on this sort of high. The world is her oyster and she’s certainly making the most of it all. Whatever she chooses to do next, I wish her all the happiness.
Craig Ferguson – The Craig Ferguson Show, Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre, Edinburgh. August 7
Craig Ferguson’s quirky tonight show was a staple in our house and I’m missing his Peabody Award winning interviewing style on late night TV. I’ve been hoping he might at least tour his standup comedy here in Australia, as he has happy memories of performing here in the 80s (as do I), but sadly there is no sign of this, especially as he is now busily hosting a successful drive time radio show. Craig decided to record some of his radio shows live from Edinburgh, taking advantage of all of the gathered performers from around the world to appear as guests, and all of the Squirrels were lucky enough to attend in the wee hours of the Festival. The Rose is a lovely old theatre in the New Town with a great atmosphere and the packed audience had an awesome time. The live radio broadcast lasted for 2 hours and consisted of two very entertaining in-depth chats with performers who were often old friends of Craig. In our case an old close friend impressionist/comedian Jan Ravens and Scottish writer Iain Rankin. Ron later saw the show with guests Daniel Sloss and Tommy Tiernan and Craig had Aunty Donna on the show towards the end of the run. Its a pity there is no podcasts of these recordings and that the radio show is not broadcast outside of the Americas.
Childproof the Podcast Recording at The Bella Union Bar, Carlton. September 20-22
Episodes 1 to 6 over three nights – written by Tony Martin & Serina Rowell
Performed by Tony Martin, Geraldine Quinn, Roz Hammond, Andrew McClelland, Damian Cowell, Lachy Hulme, Djovan Caro, Simon Rogers, Casey Bennetto, Serina Rowell, Cristina Laria, Sam Petersen and Jay Mueller as the Narrator.
A brilliant sitcom in 6 episodes about a couple who chooses to be childless while they navigate the changing, diminishing, modern workplace in radio and book publishing and their changing, diminishing friendships as their friends succumb to parenthood and all that entails. The episodes are easily as entertaining & funny as other recent Australian ABC comedies, so it’s surprising that they were knocked back for Television broadcast. The talented performers were all having a ball playing the various characters and Jay Mueller made a brilliant honey tongued Narrator. This was a unique and special experience this year.
These shows were recorded for podcasting and so you can listen to them all here.
Frocking Hilarious at The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. November 17th
Denise Scott, Cal Wilson, Fiona O’Loughlin, Anne Edmonds, Celia Pacquoa, Demi Ladner, Tessa Waters, Laura Davis, Kelly Fastuca, Geraldine Quinn, Double Denim.
A fundraiser for Action Aid curated by the inimitable comedy goddess Janet A Mcleod. All of the performers brought their A Game and there was not a weak spot on the night. It really felt like a Comedy Gala and we were all pretty privileged to be there laughing our arses off. Great to have a majority of women in the audience too. It wasn’t just some of the best Australian women in comedy it was some of the best Australian comedy on stage.
Anne Edmonds has been killing it lately. Coming off a Director’s Choice win and a Barry nomination at last year’s MICF, she continues her run of strong work with No Offence, None Taken – a brilliant hour of stand-up about family, relationships and men.
At the centre of No Offence, None Taken is a holiday Edmonds took with a friend. Left stranded on an island due to inclement weather, Edmonds spends the day venting at her mate. It’s a simple, clever device that allows Edmonds to move from story to story with ease, and cover a diverse range of topics.
There’s something deeply familiar in all of Edmonds’ tales. They paint a picture of Australia that’s a bit crusty and weird. There’s the creepy family running a business where Edmonds had her first job. There’s the hypermasculine dad at a caravan park who isn’t quite as good as he thinks he is. If you’re not a bit dysfunctional, you’re the weird one in Edmonds’ world, and it’s a sentiment that rings very true.
Edmonds is a brilliant performer and brings characters to life in a very vivid manner. Her stand-up is enhanced by her ability to slip into the voices and mannerisms of everyone she talks about. It really rounds out these people, making them more sympathetic than if they were simply a punch-line told in Edmonds’ own voice. And, more importantly, her impersonations are also utterly hilarious . A section in which Edmonds performed as a shoe saleswoman was a particular highlight that had the audience in stitches.
No Offence, None Taken is a must-see for lovers of stand-up. Anne Edmonds gets better with every passing year.
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