Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards

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

Hannah Gadsby Presenting The Barry Award from New York

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 

Danielle Walker

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


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 Adventure Show]

Lano & Woodley

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.

 

 

Heath Franklin

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)

Geraldine Hickey – It’s My Show

By Lisa Clark
Geraldine HIckey

Solo Festival shows can get a bit lonely for standup comedians, everyone is busy and wrapped up in their own worlds. Geraldine Hickey has decided to have more fun this Fringe by hosting her very own Tonight Show and surrounding herself with dear and talented friends.

Each night of It’s My Show has a different theme and different guests. We were lucky to have very special guests The Two Kate’s from Get Krak!n, Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, and Geraldine’s bestie AACTA Award winning Celia Pacquola. Everyone’s offered a wine and the conversation was about tonight’s topic, school, whether they loved or hated it. Celia was given a fun task which involved hooking up an audience member with a potential date on Tinder.  Up and coming comedian Daisy Berry did some amusing standup and Laura Dunemann turned up in the guise of a long lost relative of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. Some of the best character work I’ve seen her do and the audience loved it.

Every talk show host needs a super supportive side kick and this was provided in It’s My Show by fab comedian and DJ Kelly Fastuka. She’s quick with pertinent music, plenty of banter and bringing up an unexpected slide at Geraldine’s request. Tonight’s theme was school and there were some very cute school pics, so make sure you sit where you can see the screen on the side wall. Because of the different guests and themes this is a show you can revisit. I also think it might make a fun podcast or vidcast to get up on line.

I’ve seen and loved most of Geraldine’s Festival shows, she tries to put on something a bit different each year and it’s pretty much always wonderful because there is a sense that she’s genuinely herself on stage, and Geraldine’s self is a kack. The show also reflects Geraldine’s personality by being fairly relaxed and daggy. She’s certainly having such a great time with It’s my Show and you will want to join her party.

It’s My Show is on at The Imperial Hotel until September 29


https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/geraldine-hickey-its-my-show/

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

 

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.

 

First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.

 

Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.

 

Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.

 

 

And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.

 

Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.

 

Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.

 

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.

 

We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6692

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7985

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7643

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7956

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6010

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1244

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7760

Fancy Boy Variety Show

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6647

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1633

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7669

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5892

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7723

Late Night Letters and Numbers

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7970

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5880

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5938

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6045

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7885

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7639

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7952

The Sound of Nazis

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7712

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6870

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7706

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7920

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7915

Set List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6695

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7786

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5973

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6963

 

Set List

By Ellyse O’Halloran

Set List is a rollercoaster ride of randomness, hilarity and fun where comedians are given a never before seen set list and are forced to improvise a set in front of your eyes. After seeing the show last year and loving it, I was so eager to go back again and it definitely did not disappoint. Troy Conrad is the mastermind behind Set List with the help of Paul Provenza who MCs the show and does a fantastic job of warming the crowd up and creating a supportive atmosphere and great vibe.

On Saturday the lineup included Celia Pacquola, Gordon Southern, Dave Bloustein, Sam Simmons, Sara Pascoe and Sean Cullen and the topics ranged from ‘Loans for Dogs’ to ‘Non-Sexual Hand Job’. We see the topics at the same time as the comedians and it’s so entertaining watching them squirm and sometimes even be surprised by their own wit and intelligence.

The room is packed with supportive punters, who are asked by Provenza to be the ‘wind beneath the comics’ wings’. No one is there to see the comics fail, they are there to witness in real-time how comics develop content.

One of the greatest things about the show is that you don’t know what to expect and neither do the people on stage. Every performance will be completely different from the last with new comedians and new topics each night. It’s a show I’d encourage you to see multiple times, as different comedians tackle the beast in different ways.

There’s something special about knowing that the entertainment is unique to the night and is for this audience and this audience only. You can try to explain how hilarious and sidesplitting certain gags were, but more often that not you’ll find all the moments during Set List were had-to-be-there moments. It has to be seen to be believed so be prepared to convert the non-believers by taking them with you to enjoy another night of improvised hilarity.

Set List is on at the Victoria Hotel until April 19
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/set-list

THE ANARCHIST GUILD SOCIAL COMMITTEE RETURNS TO MELBOURNE

Sketch comedy is notoriously difficult. Even for the best sketch troops not every skit hits gold, but brilliant sketches can live forever, shared around, re-discovered by new generations and quoted by nerds at parties. It can be an intimidating art form to go into and requires hard work and a certain amount of discipline to create so much silliness.

Between 2008 and 2010 Melbourne was blessed with a group of experienced local comedians who regularly pumped out over an hour of new, entertaining live and recorded sketches with an infectious sense of fun and camaraderie. For comedy fans The Anarchist Guild Social Committee became “must see” comedy in Melbourne. Audiences gathering at the Bella Union Bar of Trades Hall on a Sunday afternoon got to feel they were part of a group of friends who mucked about together, enjoying making each other laugh. So it was pretty exciting to learn that the Guild are re-uniting for a special performance at the Bella Union this coming weekend.

The core of the old crew are back including Andrew Mcclelland, Celia Pacquola, Richard Mckenzie, Tegan Higginbotham, and Nick Caddaye along with a long list of guest appearances.  The Committee’s acerbic host Nick found time to answer some questions about working with the group and it’s upcoming reunion.

Lisa: How long did the original run of the Anarchist Guild Social Committee actually go for?

Nick: The AGSC (which is what I’m abbreviating it to from now on because long titles are exhausting) ran one year full-time and one year part-time. In the first twelve months we put on a totally new 75-odd minutes of sketch comedy every month alongside special guests and other malarkey. We travelled interstate, did charity gigs and best-of shows, and generally ran ourselves into the ground.

In the second year, we were more a special-event kind of thing. We’d only turn up to celebrate seasonal holidays and festivals. Our last show was our 2nd Anniversary show in June 2010.

Lisa: Why did you stop doing it?

Nick: Exhaustion. We genuinely lived in each other’s pockets for 18 months or so – we’d see each other every week if not two or three times. Even when a team is as awesome as ours is, that can be too much. Also, people started to get busy, and in the end Celia moved to England. So, there just wasn’t the time.

Lisa: Why have you got the Guild together again?

Nick: Everyone was (mostly) available. So, we thought we’d give it a crack just the once and see how it went.

Lisa: There is a much smaller core group for the reunion show [5 down from about 8]. Was it hard to produce the same amount of material?

Nick: It wasn’t. The thing is, if you all write two good sketches, you’ve got 10 sketches and that’s the backbone of a show. Then I go away and write piles of extra stuff to tie it all together.

Lisa: Was it terrifying/thrilling to put on a live monthly sketch show of new material in front of an audience?

Nick: Everyone in the team is pretty experienced and frequently play to big houses here and abroad, so there’s no particular fear of the audience. The scary part is doing otherwise untested material for the first (and often last time) on stage. But that’s also part of the pleasure – the opportunity to try things that you might not otherwise be able to and work with people you might not otherwise get to work with.

Lisa: There was a great sense of camaraderie on stage, yet I often wondered about the tensions behind the scene and of herding a bunch comedians into getting material together & putting on a monthly show. I’m guessing it’s about everyone having certain strengths to add and knowing each other well. Are you the main wrangler?

Nick: I’m the main creative driver but our Producer, Leah Collins, is the one who worries about logistics. And yes, the hardest thing about this project was never the ‘funny’ parts – it was the logistics. Thankfully everyone not only gets along famously but they also understand each other’s strengths and can write to them. Chemistry cannot be over-rated in this context. And that means we can get a lot done in a short amount of time because so much of the work is already done.

Lisa: Was it hard when everyone had festival shows to put on etc. Or did it help in creating ideas & material for the performer’s festival shows?

Nick: Festival time is bloody hard because everyone is being pulled in a million directions. One of the reasons that we’ve been able to do this show is because Andy isn’t doing a MICF show for the first time in 12 years or so. And then Richard and I have gigs and stuff like Late Night Letters and Numbers lined-up, but not full shows. It’s only Celia and Tegan that have to maintain the balance.

As far as influencing the individual work, I know Celia has adapted sketch ideas into stand-up bits. But generally I find creativity begets creativity, so if I’m working on one thing, the next thing is much easier to start. I’m not sure if it works like that for the others, but we always managed.

Lisa: I’ve always admired the strong female contingent of the Anarchist’s, it was especially noticeable back then, but even now it seems to be a rare thing in sketch comedy groups. (Any chance of Courteney Hocking popping in?)

Nick: Yeah… I’m not sure why it’s a rare thing. Impro groups are full of women tearing it up, but a lot of sketch groups tend to be reasonably phallocentric. There are always exceptions of course, like Girls Uninterrupted who are a two-women sketch duo. But for every one of them, there are great lumps of men putting on silly voices and dropping their trousers.

It might have something to do with sketch comedy groups usually being groups of like-minded friends, and that the sort of person who says ‘yes, I will put on a sketch comedy show with my friends’ being the sort of person who doesn’t have many female friends? But that’s a maddeningly sweeping statement that’s both insulting and reductive.

Or perhaps it’s a matter of influence? What comedy do young sketch comics watch? Do they see women in these shows and view them equally? Or do they only see men and, as such, only consider men in this context?

My plans for the AGSC were to have three men and three women. It turned out to be three men, three women and two extra men floating about (myself as host and Ben McKenzie, who was intended as a utility player but is such a fine performer and a whizz as learning lines that he ended up with more work than I had planned).

Whilst I was friends with Courteney Hocking, I’d only met Tegan and Celia once or twice each before I asked them to be in the show. All I knew was their work – that they were bloody good. So, it was and wasn’t about gender – I was looking for women for the show, but in the end I just chose the funniest people. It was a bonus that they were women.

As far as Courteney is concerned… I asked her to be involved in the show, but she replied that she’s been Comedy clean for eleven months and wanted to keep it that way. I can understand that.

Lisa: How else have things changed?

It’s funny how little it’s changed. Despite it being three-and-a-half years since we last did it, we’ve mostly fallen back into our old rhythms and the style and structure of the show will be classic AGSC.

Lisa: Will you be doing pre-recorded sections again?

Nick: We’ve done quite a bit of pre-recorded stuff. Our promos can all be found on Youtube (just search for The Anarchist Guild Social Committee) and there is other stuff we’re keeping for the live show. Filming stuff is hard work, but very rewarding because at the end of the day you have *something*. Live comedy is more ephemeral.

Lisa: I got the impression that the Anarchists hoped get picked up for TV ala The D-gen?

Nick: Well, it’d be bloody lovely if it was. We’ve looked into it in the past, but it’s something of an impossible dream. I’ve always thought the show would suit the TV and I suppose you never know what the future holds of course…

Lisa: Do you think today’s TV might be more up for Melbourne based sketch comedy than it was say 5 years ago?

Nick: Well, there are more channels than there used to be, so there’s a need for more content. And slowly but surely things are improving – you’re seeing more Australian comedy voices on TV. But it’s always going to be cheaper to show repeats of ‘sitcom X’ than fully fund new comedy.

Lisa: Do you think there seems to be more interest in sketch generally than there was a few years ago?

Nick: There really wasn’t much around when we started, and in a live sense, there’s still nothing regular. This is because it’s hard – what the AGSC did in putting on a new show every month for a year was HARD. And that’s why no-one else is doing it.

That being said, I can think of half-a-dozen sketch groups that you’ll see listed come Festival time that are good (and more that aren’t besides…). And there’s slightly more sketch comedy on TV than there was then.

These things are often cyclical.

Lisa: Do you think with a new government it might be less acceptable now to do political stuff (If aiming at a show on TV)?

Nick: The AGSC was never especially political, because the endless churn of new material meant that jokes that worked on script submission day would be two weeks old by show day and lose their zing.

Lisa: As a regular audience member I always felt like I was part of a cool club, is that what you were going for?

Nick: Absolutely. It was always supposed to be ‘clubby’. Although I’d say it was more a big nerdy club for nerds than ‘cool’…

Lisa: Has anyone turned up to the Bella Union Bar at Trades Hall expecting a meeting of actual Anarchists?

Nick: Possibly at our first show, but not in a demonstrative sense. Around the time we started there was a controversy about ASIO infiltrating some groups at Trades Hall, and I always loved the idea that the mole came to see our show just to see if we were up to something subversive and then had to write a report on it.

“There was very little discussion about bringing down the government, but one of the cast seemed to eat a lot of chicken…”

 

The Anarchist Guild Social Committee (and  guests) will re-unite this weekend – (and we’re quietly hoping it might lead to more shows.)

SUNDAY JANUARY 12th @ 5pm
Bella Union – Trades Hall (cnr. Victoria & Lygon St. Carlton)
Guests include
Lawrence Leung
Yianni
The Von Muiznieks Family Singers
WATSON
Dave Bushell,
Ben McKenzie
Kelly Fastuca

and more!

Get your tix from the Bella website