A BIG YEAR’S ROUND UP AND 5 VERY GOOD SHOWS OF 2017

By Lisa Clark

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 Wil at The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. January 22

Lineup: Wil Anderson, Supported by Justin Hamilton

Wil Anderson

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 Gadsby

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.

My review: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11198

Craig Ferguson

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 

Tony Martin, Cristina Laria, Damian Cowel, Roz Hammond, Gerraldine Quinn

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.

Tessa Waters and Laura Davis

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.

 

LISA’S LIVE COMEDY BIG YEAR 2017 – http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?page_id=10666

Justin Hamilton – Bunta Boy

By Colin FlahertyHammo

Most know Justin Hamilton as a brilliant story telling solo stand up performer but before that he was part of a musical comedy duo The Bunta Boys, Jezza & Dougie (Damien Kilsby), who from 1994 to 1999 were an unstoppable force on the Adelaide comedy scene. Bunta Boy documents that time in his life with wonderful stories of wacky hijinks that allow him to reflect on the comedy learning curve he undertook, how he has developed as a person and his early body of work (both good and bad). Think of it as an excerpt from Inside The Actors Studio without James Lipton.

For Hamilton completists, this show is essential. It’s full of uproarious anecdotes that most outside of Adelaide didn’t get a chance to witness in the flesh. He has covered a number of them before both on stage and on podcast but it is great to have them presented as one in somewhat chronological order. Some visual aids would have been nice but he does such a wonderful job of describing events in great detail that we feel like we are there. I guess we will have to make do with the smattering of images posted on social media to see how the boys looked.

A surprising treat is the inclusion of some songs from the duo’s repertoire, performed by Justin to a backing track of guitar accompaniment. While he doesn’t have an angelic voice, he can hold a tune to an agreeable degree and it gives us Bunta virgins a taste of their silly songs.

Bowie obsessives will be able to decipher the meaning behind the carefully chosen tunes played before the show but along with music from another recently deceased musical icon, mortality looms large over this performance. Beginning with tales from recent times involving health issues, Justin is looking at how time has ravaged him and uses the Bunta anecdotes to look back at his naïve and seemingly indestructible younger self. It’s never dour as he reliably provides a constant stream of jokes to keep us laughing while we contemplate.

Justin has stated that he is again stepping back from stand up to concentrate on other pursuits. This piece of hilarious nostalgia is the perfect thing to tide us over until he next returns to the stage.

Buntu Boy is on at The Melbourne Town Hall (Cloak Room) until April 15
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/justin-hamilton-bunta-boy

Justin Hamilton Hoot

By Lisa Clark
Hoot

This is a show for fans, fans of Justin Hamilton, fans of David Bowie and people who are likely to become fans of either or both by this show’s end. Justin’s show’s are mostly personal storytelling shows, but there are always, unsurprisingly, several layers of showmanship dividing the material from the comedian. In this show Justin has peeled a lot of those layers away, its hard to hold them up when you are grieving, but he’s a comedian to his soul and this is still a very funny comedy festival show.

Hoot is like catching up with your chatty friend (or dare I say friendly ex boyfriend) that you haven’t seen much of since he moved to that new fabulous job (producing breakfast radio) in Sydney. Well he was having a pretty great time ’til January 11, a date that keeps popping up throughout, he doesn’t have to elaborate, we know the significance, or will by the end. Sydney life seems to be agreeing with him, he’s lost weight, he’s getting to know his outrageously expensive inner city neighbourhood and he explains why the change was important to him in his life at this point. (Its not you Melbourne, its me)

Justin decided to go off social media in January and his hilarious routine about a day in a life with social media and how it can really take over your whole day and drive you crazy is a classic. It obviously didn’t help with his life long issue of over thinking everything, which can be a great way to make comedy but not so good with your social life. It‘s a sensational routine he could perform anywhere and got a very appreciative round of applause.

The last part of the show is where he hands it all over to Bowie. Anyone who loves Hammo’s work knows that he loves David Bowie and that this show is going to feature Bowie. When we first heard that David had died in January our first instinct was to send condolences to Justin, as if our friend had lost his dad. The first Justin Hamilton solo festival show I saw talked about the David Bowie concert his groovy Mum took him to as a child and we got to hear that wonderful joyful story again, this time coming from a different angle. It was fabulous to reminisce in all his hilarious Bowie stories and share the love and grief. This feels like a bit of a bookend to that show I saw many years and stories ago and also a bit of a celebratory wake.

Bring tissues, the last time I cried this much at a Justin Hamilton show it was over a (mostly) fictitious girl called Kalliope in 3 Colours Hammo, an ambitious three part show that has become Melbourne International Comedy Festival legend. Justin’s best comedy often shines out of dark places. This is the heartfelt comedy show he had to do and one that you have to see.

Hoot is on at the Melbourne Town Hall each Saturday until April 16

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/hoot-justin-hamilton

Justin Hamilton – Snacks!

By Elyce Phillips Justin Hamilton snax

Things have changed since Justin Hamilton was a kid. Comics are now a ubiquitous part of pop culture, binge drinking is officially frowned upon and mobile phones have drastically altered the way we communicate. And while most of those changes have been for the better, sometimes it’s nice to reminisce about the way things were. That’s what we get in Snacks! – an entertaining collection of bite-sized pieces of comedy about nerds, booze and getting older.

Justin Hamilton has got to be the friendliest comedian at the festival. Before the show, he wandered down the line, checking how we were all doing. As we entered the venue, he greeted us individually, making sure everyone was ready before the show got underway. And as we left, he was at the door again, thanking us all for coming. Perhaps it’s part of Hamilton’s New Year’s resolution to become a better person. It helped to create a really nice, relaxed energy in the room, as though Hamilton were talking to us, rather than at us. From the minute the show begins, you know that Hamilton is an old hand. His delivery is pitch-perfect and he connects with everyone in the audience.

There’s nothing particularly revelatory in this show – we’re all aware by now that tequila is the devil – but Hamilton’s perspective on ageing feels fresh. The stories he tells are personal, but relatable, and he creates vivid pictures with his words. A description of his Mum dealing with a cat in the backyard was especially hilarious. The jokes are so quick-witted and the tales so engrossing that you leave wondering where on earth the hour went. It just flies by.

Snacks! is packed full of laughs and memorable stories, delivered by an absolute pro. I know I’m going to be singing Hamilton’s snacks song for a long while to come.

Justin Hamilton – Snacks! is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 18

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/snacks-justin-hamilton

Live Podcast Recordings at Melbourne International Comedy Festival or PODFEST 2015

By Lisa Clark

There are many comedians performing at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival who have popular podcasts. Some of those popular podcasts will be recorded live in front of an audience at this year’s Festival.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is calling it Podfest 2015 in the guide .

Here we present a comprehensive list of live recordings of Podcasts that we know of taking place at this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

First there is a link to bookings for the Live recording (many of which are sold or selling out fast)

The second link is to the podcast website itself. If you cant be there in person; you can listen!

CJ Delling Under The News Desk on Tuesdays

What never makes it to the news desk? Comedian and SBS Radio satirist CJ Delling unearths the week’s topical news stories found under a reputable, and imaginary, TV news desk.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/under-the-news-desk-cj-delling

http://www.cjdelling.com/category/podcast/

 

David tulk & Jamie McCarney – Full of it: The True or False Game Show

A comedy quiz show, with one contestant, where one man tries to convince another that the truth is out there. We’re just not sure where!

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/full-of-it-the-true-or-false-game-show-david-tulk-jamie-mccarney

http://fullofit.podbean.com/

 

Greg Behrendt & Dave Anthony- Walking the Room

“Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony reunite after 25 years (or perhaps a bit less) to bring their podcast live to Melbourne.”

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/walking-the-room-live-recording-greg-behrendt-dave-anthony

http://www.walkingtheroom.com/

 

I love Green Guide Letters with Steele Saunders

Steele brings on fabulous guests from Comedy and TV to discuss reader’s letters to the (green) TV guide in The Age Newspaper.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/i-love-green-guide-letters-with-steele-saunders

http://ilovegreenguideletters.com/

 

Jen Kirkman I Seem Fun (Live Recording)

Usually talking into a microphone in a room by herself…

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/i-seem-fun-live-recording-jen-kirkman

http://jenkirkman.com/i-seem-fun

 

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

Lisa records her naughty Tea Parties and puts them out as podcasts during Festivals

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/lisa-skye-s-lovely-tea-party

http://lisaskye.podbean.com/

 

Spark! How ‘bout This?

The guys from one of Australia’s favourite improv groups, Spark! get together and talk about the things, all of the things, mostly the ridiculous things.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/how-bout-this-spark

 

Steele Wars: Live Star Wars Chat

Previously called This is Not the Pod You Are Looking for, Steele Saunders has streamlined the name to “Steele Wars“, but it remains a podcast where Star Wars fans can get together and chat about Steele’s obsession with the Star Wars Universe.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/steele-wars-live-star-wars-chat

http://steelewars.com/

 

The Dollop With Dave Anthony & Gareth Reynolds

The live show on April 18th at The Comics Lounge is SOLD OUT.

http://thedollop.libsyn.com/

 

The Little Dum Dum Club with Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler Live!

Two top dickheads chatting to other comedians  about fast food and other things.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/live-the-little-dum-dum-club-with-tommy-dassalo-and-karl-chandler

http://littledumdumclub.com/

 

The Shelf Podcast Show

Adam Richard and Justin Hamilton catch up with each other and some comedian friends.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/podcast-show-the-shelf

http://shelvers.com.au/

Also there is also bound to be a surprise Fofop / Walk In the Room mash-up/pop-up show at some point.

Keep your eyes on their websites and ears on their podcasts.

Meanwhile during the festival you can checkout the Comedy Festival Fan podcast MICF Daily Where Mike Brown talks to many comedians and various people involved with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with the addition of daily news and information about the Festival.

https://soundcloud.com/micfdaily

Justin Hamilton talks about Comedy @ Crown

By Lisa Clark

Earlier this year Crown Casino put on a Winter season of comedy in its Groove Bar and they had the smarts to get Justin Hamilton in to help put the night together. Hammo’s reputation brought the hardcore comedy nerds in (like me) and Crown brought a relatively different comedy crowd that you might not see in a dark Fitzroy dive but appreciates good comedy none the less. The lineups were, as expected, exceptional and everyone had a great time.

The good news is that comedy is back at Crown for Spring. It’s a four week season curated and hosted by Justin Hamilton that goes til November 9th. Performers coming up this season are a great mix of established and up-and-comers including; Tommy Little, Michael Workman, Anne Edmonds, Hannah Gadsby, Kate McLennan, Geraldine Hickey, Frank Woodley, Michael Chamberlin and Rob Hunter.

It is a truly wonderful thing that Melbourne has such a vibrant, varied live comedy scene at the moment, with everything from tryout nights, cosy established pub rooms, to really out there kooky variety comedy nights and impro and then high end mainstream places such as Crown. It gives a lot of choice for punters and performers alike, newbies have a variety of places to start and to aspire to and experienced performers have places to try out stuff and also do a well paid gig.

Comedy @ Crown has a great atmosphere, with a convivial crowd ready to laugh. The room has two bars and a choice of chairs and some couches. The venue is easy to get to, close to the CBD with undercover parking and lots of pre-show food choices nearby. There is also a Groove Bar snack menu.

If you usually only see one or two shows a year during the comedy festival this is a great place to get a taste of the style of performers who you’ve never seen perform live standup or may not know so well.

Justin Hamilton was kind enough to talk to me about this relatively new Melbourne comedy venue.

L: How did Crown recruit you to curate their new comedy night?

Justin: Crown approached me after seeing a few shows at The Shelf.  Crown Entertainment realised they have a thriving comedy scene in their backyard that they could showcase in an upmarket environment so we sat down and made our plans from there.

Lisa: How does the room work?

J: I wanted the night to be the sort of show that not only shines a light on our biggest stars but also helps introduce some of the younger acts to the types of gigs they may not see on a regular basis.  If you want to make a living in Australia you have to be able to work all types of rooms and this is a good opportunity to help open up those types of markets to newer acts while bringing in the big guns to headline. 

L: The first season seemed like a roaring success, did you and the venue people learn from that season and fine tune things for this season?

J: Without a doubt.  You should always be attempting to improve no matter how successful.  We’ve cut back from the three brackets to the two as since it is on a Sunday night it means the night finishes just a little earlier for the punters.  It is fine for us comedians staying up to all hours but for real people working real jobs it was finishing just a little late.

L: With performers clamouring to get up at The Shelf, have there been some performers (or even punters) who don’t like the idea of performing at a Casino?

J: I’m certain there are but nobody has said anything to me.  That is how the industry works.  You bitch about it until it is offered to you.  Then you usually say yes.  Everybody who has done the gig has had a pretty easy time of it.

L: How are the performers coping with the flames going off on the hour?

J: It is surprising how little happens.  It was a concern going in but our audiences have been so good that they’re locked in and appear to be a little annoyed if a comedian goes on about the flames for too long.  They’re a pretty focused audience.

L: Has it been interesting for the performers to perform to a more mainstream crowd?

J: Maybe for the younger acts but for the rest of us it is business as usual.  Most comedians are happy to do the same type of set for any type of audience.  You just pull them into your world rather than going into theirs.

L: Have you noticed a new type of regular turning up to these nights?

J: More people dressing up for the gig.  That has been interesting.  Not quite as laid back as you would see at your normal gigs.

L: Where did you get your inspiration, in running a good room? Did you seek advice?

J: My inspiration comes from my Adelaide days when Lehmo and I started running rooms to stop Adelaide promoters from ripping off the local acts.  You just run a room in a manner that suggests you might like to perform in it.

L: Do you enjoy the flexibility of doing short season runs of rooms as opposed to running them year round?

J: Sure do.  I wouldn’t run a room all year, too much work and not enough gratitude. I know that from my time in charge of The Rhino Room in Adelaide.  I tip my hat to the Karl Chandlers and Steele Saunders who run rooms and perform year in year out.

L: Is there a disadvantage of some people missing out because they may not find out about it til late in the run or afterwards?

J: Then they can come along next season.  We’re not entitled to see everything that ever happens.  It is good to miss out now and again.

L: Do you have any advice to anyone considering running a comedy room?

J: Don’t be an arsehole and make certain you provide space in the line up to get your own stage time.

L: Will there be more Comedy at Crown in the future?

J: If it continues at this pace for the rest of the season I would say there would be.

Comedy @ Crown takes place in the Groove Bar at Crown Casino Southbank on Sundays at 7.30pm. 

Tickets can be bought at The door from 6.30pm for  $20. This Spring Season finishes on Nov 9th

To find out more about Comedy @ Crown, check out their website http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Comedy-at-Crown/