RECOMMENDED AND PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED SHOWS AT MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL 2017

By Lisa Clark & Colin Flaherty

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.

PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED

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.

Alanta Colley Parasites Lost

Alanta Colley
Alanta Colley

Lisa reviewed her at the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10549

You can book at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/parasites-lost

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night

This is Lisa’s review from last year: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9937

Book your tickets at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/ali-mcgregor

ApocOlympics

Here’s Colin’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10580

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/apocolympics

Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour by Hayley Tantau

cindy-salmon-empowerment-hour
Cindy Salmon

Here’s Elyce’s review at the 2016 Meloburne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10575

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/cindy-salmon-s-empowerment-hour

Cull

Read Colin’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10470

Bookings details can be found at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/cull

Gabe Hogan:  Making Life a Double

Lisa’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe is at http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10491

Bookings details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/making-life-a-double

Isabel Angus Presents Bliss

Here’s Lisa’s review of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe performance: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10515

Bookings can be made at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/isabel-angus-presents-bliss

Late Night Letters and Numbers

This late night show was reviewed in 2013 by Lisa: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Booking details can be found at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/late-night-letters-and-numbers

Mighty Little Puppet Show 

Mighty Little Puppet Show
Mighty Little Puppet Show

The 2016 MICF show was reviewed by Lisa is: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9929

Book your tickets at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/the-might-little-puppet-show

Political Asylum 

A now annual fixture of MICF, Elice’s review is here: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Bookings can be made at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/political-asylum-s-late-night-riot

Soothsayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare

Lisa’s review from the 2015 Melbourne Fringe is here” http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9433

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/completely-improvised-shakespeare

RECOMMENDED

The Bugle Live

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)

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/the-bugle-live

Daniel Kitson… 

Daniel Kitson

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.

Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne – 2nd to 23rd April
(Various Dates and Times) https://goo.gl/AVrCLX

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.

 Palace Westgarth Northcote – April 18th, 19th  – 7pmhttps://goo.gl/jVA2N3

Infectious

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.

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/a-night-of-infectious-laughter-2

Josh Earl's Festival
Josh Earl’s Festival

Josh Earl & Daniel Tobias: Josh Earl’s Festival   

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.

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/josh-earl-s-festival-1

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!

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/escape-from-a-90s-educational-cd-rom

Sammy J: Hero Complex 

Sammy J Hero Complex
Sammy J Hero Complex

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.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/hero-complex

A Visit With Nan In A Caravan

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.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/caravan

Watson: Go To Hell!

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.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/go-to-hell

View the entire Comedy Festival program at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017, so get out and start booking tickets!

 

Isabel Angus in BLISS!

By Lisa Clarkisabel_angus_in_bliss

BLISS! could be seen as the final of an amazing trilogy of feminist comedy plays, but it is actually Isabel Angus’s debut solo festival show in a similar vein. Isabel has created another captivating character in Penny P who does a lot of “Thinsplaining” about the wonders of “Wellbeing” and nails the ludicrous nature of these quasi health websites on the head.

The extraordinary award winning masterpiece Edge!, set in the world of pop music, was about the sexualisation of children and the infantilisation of women. The impressive and somewhat astonishing Prime! was about how sexual politics is changing and the new teen bro culture. They were performed by Isabel and Rachel and Rachel had small but vital roles in both shows. I hate to say this but her grounding presence to Isabel’s tyrannical character is very much missed from BLISS!

This is not to say that BLISS! isn’t a blast in its own right and no doubt better than a lot of Fringe shows trying to entertain audiences with serious subject matter. Isabel has clearly studied a lot of dodgy “Wellness” and “Fitness” stuff online. You only have to have a brief dip into “Wellness’” Instagram to see that it is full of vile bon mots like “Sweat is Your Fat Crying”. Penny P is spouting these exact phrases, while exercising hard on stage, stopping for selfies and to promote her merch. It’s occasionally exhausting to watch, and often very funny, Isabel is a brilliant physical comedian and is certainly going to be super fit by the end of the run.

There’s a reference in BLISS! to Belle Gibson (the girl who faked cancer as well as fake curing her own fake cancer, made lots of money and published a health book despite the lack of any actual health qualifications) which is the dark side of these sites and why I felt Isabel could’ve gone even harder on them. For a show about social media, it was very low tech and could’ve done with a big screen and a lot of title cards and screenshots to help her create the world we might be less familiar with. When the serious dark turn arrives it feels too contrived and sudden, adding to the feeling that this production might be a bit rushed and unfinished. The end appears out of nowhere, the ideas peter out with a very tacked on ending that makes me think, “I know what she’s going for, but it’s not quite working”.

It’s clear that it will always be interesting and entertaining to see the work of Isabel Angus. No one is doing feminist, political comedic theatre that’s as accessible and as much fun, as she is. This one needs a bit of tinkering but it’s still one of the better shows at Melbourne Fringe and I’m sure as the season goes along it will only get better.

Isabel Angus performs BLISS! at The Courthouse Hotel until Sept 25

https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/isabel-angus-in-bliss/e26f7bf4-16de-4f25-9fab-e5a341ae0e75

5 Good Reasons to See Isabel Angus in BLISS!

1. Fitspiration.
Looking for some much-needed #fitspiration1 from Melbourne’s newest, fittest #fitspo2?
Want to know how to live your #bestlife? Yes? Then you have No ExcusesTM to miss out on watching Penny’s (Isabel Angus’) motivational Personal JourneyTM, live, and in her (toxin-free) flesh. What will you leave with? Perfect Penny Body Bliss3. (This is also her Instagram/fitstagram3 name, so you can go online and follow her right away for daily fitspiration!)

i. Fitness inspiration. ii. short for Fitspiration. iii. Fit-orientated Instragram.

2. Authenticity. Wellness. Lululemon active-wear. Bliss.
You’d have to be an idiot to not want that.

3. Isabel Angus (the not quite as fit) woman who is masquerading as Penny, is a previous winner of Best Comedy for Isabel and Rachel’s EDGE!’ (Melbourne Fringe 2013). You may recognise her from previous comic characters: Stella, the precocious child star of EDGE! and Jono, the obnoxious teenage boy from Isabel and Rachel’s PRIME! (Melbourne Fringe 2015) Penny is Isabel’s first, non-child character, so come and watch her be a big grown up!

4. No audience participation required. Just specialised knowledge from a self-appointed life guru and internet accreditated wellness/fitness coach. That’s why it’s called ‘Perfect Penny Body Bliss’, not ‘Perfect Tom, Dick and Harry’ Body Bliss. BLISS! is for you.

5. Come along, if you’ve been scratching your heads lately wondering what’s up with the ever-growing wellness/fitspiration obsession.

Isabel Angus performs BLISS! at The Courthouse Hotel Sept 18 – 25

https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/isabel-angus-in-bliss/e26f7bf4-16de-4f25-9fab-e5a341ae0e75

Isabel and Rachel in PRIME!

By Lisa Clark PRIME

It’s pretty much impossible to review this show without spoiling the fact that the blurb for the show in the Fringe Guide is in fact the description of the show within the show that is Prime by The Sisters of The Moon. Layers, Isabel and Rachel are good at layers.

The audience enters the small black velvet draped space to the strains of Enya while being further assaulted by choking incense belching out at us. Isabel and Rachel really enjoy making their audience suffer for their laughs. Dressed in black velvet cloaks with hoods obscuring their faces Isabel and Rachel lampoon the worst kind of dull, wanky, serious theatre sending the girls in my row into explosive, uncontrollable fits of laughter. I remember how painfully awful some uni drama productions could be (Always with everyone in black with bare feet) and this made me laugh a lot too.

Pretty soon everything turns around and all is not as it seems. We are introduced to the performers; recently divorced Deborah (Rachel Davis) and her obnoxious fourteen year old son Jono (Isabel Angus), who valiantly try to mount the advertised Fringe show after being abandoned by Deborah’s performance partner and best friend Jillian. The hyper and obnoxious Jono keeps derailing the production by scoffing at everything and insisting on throwing in his own segments of The Jono Show which he worked out with his mate Macca.

Isabel has again created an astonishing charismatic creature in Jono, who unsurprisingly steals the show. She has clearly been hanging out with teenage boys and has gotten all the mannerisms and speech patterns down perfectly. It’s utterly jaw dropping and only the sly hairbun at the back is a reminder that you are watching a woman performing. It’s wonderful also to see Rachel Davis given a bigger space to shine this year as the anchor of the performance; the exasperated, jilted mum who is trying to keep things together.

Last year’s Winner of Best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe: Isabel and Rachel’s Edge! was a vicious takedown of the sexualisation of children, the media and Girlie-Girl Culture. This year they explore the hip-hop and Dude-Bro Culture that younger boys are aping but are this time less savage and balance the satire with a warmer heart. There is also a gentle laugh at extreme new-age style feminist culture and the hilarity in the contrast between that and Jono’s revulsion towards it. It took me a while to work out why I felt that this year’s show wasn’t quite hitting the high mark, then realised that perhaps it was the lack of any presence of the father in this tale (unlike last year’s ever-present yet offstage monster Mother) which weakens the concept somewhat as there is less understanding and sympathy for how Jono has been shaped. Still, this is ferociously funny, entertaining and occasionally over the top outrageous.

Isabel and Rachel are a wildly talented pair who have again created one of the most fabulous comedy shows at Melbourne Fringe and an unforgettable character in Jono. These women are definitely stars in the making. See them now so one day you can say you were then when….

Isabel and Rachel’s Prime is on Upstairs at Errols Cafe til Oct 3

For Information and Tickets: https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/f1aeaa58-a233-4401-b42f-43281678ab20

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

By Alanta Colley

Lisa Skye presents a multitude of contrasts. Fierce yet friendly. Loud yet lovely. Dangerous yet disarming. Crude yet charming. Equipped with a dry wit and a serious expression yet constantly armed with pockets full of sparkles.

In this show Lisa invites you to tea along with several guests from the Comedy Festival. The format includes in part Lisa Skye’s life reflections from her life less ordinary. Lisa Skye’s guests share short performances with us, then Lisa Skye chats with guests and asks them quiz questions from a range themes from a board of erratic to whimsical themes.

On this particular night Lisa’s guests included the exceptional story teller Jon Bennett, whose MICF show is Story Whore. Bennet shared a dark and gripping tale from his life growing up on a farm in South Australia with his method Minister father. We also were graced with the performance of Isabel Angus and Rachel Davis, the comedy duo in Edge; an opportunity to look into the mind of a precocious 11 year old.

Discussions were casual and inviting, and a nice opportunity to get to know these performers outside of their scripted material. Occasionally discussion veered a little into alienating the audience when it focussed a little heavily on talking about comedians and their experiences; though was understandable given the commonality of those onstage.

Skye challenges her audiences’ delicate sensibilities chatting frankly about a litany of sexual encounters, which vary from your typical fare of monogamous relations. She’s unapologetic about it and it’s great that there’s a space in the Comedy Festival for weirder and wackier shows. Skye has a very specific style, something akin to Muppet meets Madame, which, frankly, is fascinating. If that’s not your cup of tea than this is not the tea party for you. A fine night of entertainment, worthy of more than one visit for the revolving and evolving material.

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party is on at The Tuxedo Cat until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/lovely-tea-party-lisa-skye-s

Melbourne Fringe Festival Comedy Award Winners

Congratulations to all the performers who won awards at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, to all those who took part and especially to those who practiced the art of comedy.
Here are the comedy award winners this year:

2013 CATEGORY AWARDS

Best Comedy: EDGE! by Rachel Davis and Isabel Angus

Best Venue: Imperial Hotel

 

2013 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS

Touring Award

Outstanding Comedy Show

Winner: Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

 

Local Award

People’s Choice Award

Wizard Sandwiches: The Last Lunch

 

For our full archive of award winners  see our History of Australian Award Winners page under the FEATURES section