Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018 – Previously reviewed shows

The 32nd Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been officially

Lano & Woodley

Launched for 2018. Hosted by comedy legends Lano & Woodley, their reunion this year, after 12 years apart, in their new show Fly is one of the big thrills causing quite a buzz in a gigantic, exciting programme. There are more than 620 shows in this years festival. Some of the shows are encore performances and others that we Squirrels managed to catch and review at other festivals.

Feel free to click on the links below and read what we thought of these earlier iterations, keeping in mind that festival shows are ever evolving beasts that change and develop over time, so the new version may be quite different to one we saw.

See a favourite off the telly, See someone you’ve never heard of. Most of all have a wonderful time and keep an eye on Squirrel Comedy as the new reviews roll in and we keep you up to date on what’s happening via our Social Media.

Previously Reviewed Shows:

The Bear Pack
Phoebe O’Brien’s review from Edinburgh Fringe 2017 : http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11820
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/the-bear-pack

Ben Volchok Presents…
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=12001
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/ben-volchok-presents

Chris Lassig Dr Chris’s Theory of Everything
Conor Merrigan-Turner’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11940
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/dr-chris-s-theory-of-everything

Elizabeth Davie – Super Woman Money Program
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11987
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/super-woman-money-program

Geraldine Hickey – It’s My Show
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=12005
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/it-s-my-show

Hit By A Blimp – I’m Here
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11906
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/i-m-here

Impromptunes
Elyce Phillips’review from Melbourne Fringe 2013: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5083
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/the-completely-improvised-musical

Laura Davis – Ghost Machine
Elyce Phillips’review from MICF 2013: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=8543
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/ghost-machine

Lauren Bok – Between a Bok and a Hard Place (Originally performed as A Bok In Progress)
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11903
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/lauren-bok-between-a-bok-and-a-hard-place

Luke McGregor – Almost Fixed it
Lisa Clark’s review from MICF 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11056
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/almost-fixed-it

Matt Harvey – War of the words
Conor Merrigan-Turner’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=12035
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/war-of-the-words

Phil Wang – Kinabalu
Colin Flaherty’s review from Edinburgh Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11627
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/phil-wang

Political Asylum Comedy – Late Night Riot!
Angela East’s review from MICF 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11271
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/political-asylum-late-night-riot

Rob Hunter – Late O’Clock
Andrew Holmes’review from MICF 2012: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1380
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/late-o-clock

Sean Bedlam – Death to America
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=12011
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/death-to-america

Soothplayers -Completely Improvised Shakespeare
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2015: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9433
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/completely-improvised-shakespeare

Snort With Friends
Elyce Phillips’review from MICF 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11053
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/snort-with-friends

Wanda and Mel
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=12008
Booking details:
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/wanda-and-mel

The Laugh Out Loud Big Gay Comedy Night

By Peter Newling 

For most of the year, Vau d’Vile in Fitzroy serves as a drag cabaret and restaurant venue. And what a fantastic venue it is. It has a lovely big stage, a wall covered in a rainbow flag made entirely of feather boas, and another wall covered entirely in Barbie Dolls – which is playful and creepy in equal measure. But for a few nights during the Midsumma Festival, the wigs and sequins take a break and the space is handed over to the Laugh Out Loud Big Gay Comedy team. Unlike most comedy nights, this one comes without a host, which adds a level of complexity to the start of the evening. First of all, there’s no-one there to set the scene and to get the audience excited about the night ahead. Instead it was up to the first act to come on and get the crowd in the mood. I’m not sure that’s such a great set-up, especially for the first performer who I’m sure would prefer to come on to an already warmed-up audience.

Fortunately, our first performer was Laura Davis who ran a very successful comedy room in Perth before moving to Melbourne. Laura is a very accomplished comic, having won the Golden Gibbo award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival back in 2015, amongst a string of other accolades. And rightly so – she’s very good at what she does. Her style is charming, down to earth and girl-next-doorish, a little reminiscent of Josie Long. You find yourself drawn in to her sweetness until the first c-bomb drops – and then you see that the raw honesty and disenchantment lie just millimetres beneath the surface. Laura shares a lot of herself with her audiences, which really helps cement the relationship. Her delivery is well paced, and her choice of words is perfect. You really should add Laura to your list of Aussie comics to see.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed in the comedy landscape over the past decade or so is the recapturing of old performance art-forms. Many will be familiar with the work of Nina Conti and others in reinventing ventriloquism. Some will be familiar with Sam Wills and his mime work – one of the few performers I’ve seen get a standing ovation at the Edinburgh Fringe. Our second act tonight is doing her bit to reclaim the arts of magic and mind-reading as a comedic form. Cath Jamison is billed as Australia’s leading female magician, but her set sits neatly in a night of comedy. Her rapport with the audience is excellent, and there are laughs-aplenty as she baffles and bamboozles her willing crowd. Testimony to the comfortable relationship she establishes early in her set, people are actually willing, if not eager, to volunteer when asked. The tricks vary in complexity, but there’s no doubting her showmanship, confidence and love of what she does. She has certainly put the fun back into an art-form that, for a while, was favouring ego over talent.

Our third and final comic of the evening was the experienced Bev Killick. Bev’s style is bold, brash and abrasive. There’s nothing demure or understated about this comic – she’s very upfront and not afraid to offend. Her on-stage persona is like the fun-but-vulgar aunt at the Christmas gathering that family members either adore or are scared to death of. Her material covered the well trodden paths of modern child-raising methods, and how she went about traumatising her own kids. It wasn’t until half way through her set that she realised that absolutely no-one in the audience had kids, so the material had no particular relevance. In an attempt to change track, she went to audience interaction. This led her into a discussion with a shy young man who revealed that he had not come out to his parents for cultural reasons – the comedy dried up, and a tangible awkwardness engulfed the room. But she soldiered on with more material about raising kids and the perils of having teenage boys. Whilst many in the audience really enjoyed the middle-class-bogan patter, I came away wondering if this comic had put enough thought into what people coming to a Big Gay Comedy Night might actually relate to.

It’s great that the organisers of the Big Gay Comedy Night were able to put together such an eclectic mix of acts for the evening, I’m sure there will be a lot more fabulous performers to look forward to. If you’re in the market for some stand-up during the Midsumma Festival, make your way down to the Vau d’vile. There’ll be something for everyone!

The Laugh Out Loud Big Gay Comedy Night is playing every Sunday and Thursday evening from Jan 14 to Feb 4 at Vau d’Vile, 62-70 Johnston Street Fitzroy.

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

Squirrel writers’ 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Round up

So that was the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe and Festival. Once again the weather was changeable, with reports that it was the wettest summer in Scotland for 80 years. We arrived in the rain, but the frequent showers were never enough to dampen our enthusiasm. There were four Squirrels in Edinburgh this year and all of us have written below about shows we’ve loved, or not loved, or not had the chance to write about previously.

Hannah GadsbyThe Big news to come out of this special anniversary festival is that Australia’s own multi award winning (The Barry, The Helpmann, Adelaide Best Comedy) comedy champion Hannah Gadsby has won the Best Comedy Show Award at Edinburgh. It was a joint win with John Robins and my impression is that their shows are a sort of yin and yang, with John’s show The Darkness of Robins being an anguished cry of help from the depths of a breakup with his more famous girlfriend Sara Pascoe (who was doing her own take on the breakup in an equally well reviewed but not nominated Fringe show Lads, Lads, Lads) and Hannah’s being a powerful, rallying rant of revelation against the apocalypse, Nanette. Previous Australian winners of Best Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe are Los Trios Ringbarkus, Lano & Woodley, Brendon Burns and Sam Simmons.

Other nominees for the 2017 Edinburgh Best Comedy Award were Ahir Shah, Elf Lyons, Jordan Brookes, Mae Martin, Mat Ewins, Sophie Wilan and Spencer Jones.

Best Newcomer Winner at Edinburgh Fringe was Natalie Palamides for Laid. The Nominees for Best Newcomer were; Chris Washington, Darren Harriott, Ed Night, Kwame Asante, Lauren Pattison, Lucy Pearman and Rob Kemp.

Rob Kemp did win Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Performer and Mat Ewins Presents Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman won best Comedians’ Choice Award Best Show.

Hannah will bring Nanette for its premiere season at the Sydney Opera House from  September 27 – October 8, before a string of encore performances at the Arts Centre Melbourne from Nov 18 culminating in Hamer Hall on Dec 1. I shouldn’t have to urge you to see it, if you’ve missed out on it so far.

Squirrel writers’ Edinburgh Fringe Round up

Colin Flaherty

My highlights at Fringe happen to be ones that I have reviewed, in particular Big Howard Little Howard

Big Howard, Little Howard (Howard Read) – Man and Boy

Andrew O’Neill’s Black Magick Fun Hour

Simon Munnery – Renegade Plumber

I also enjoyed Stuart Goldsmith – Like I Mean It, a hilarious hour that follows on from his previous show Compared to What where he continues to explore life with his new wife and son. He presents plenty of brilliant observations and plays around with the bird with clipped wings husband angle perfectly.

One off event WiFi Wars was a hoot, even though many of the games refused to play correctly on my underpowered tablet (I was only expecting to word process and web surf on it after all!). This late night, tech heavy show had punters competing individually as well as in teams. We laughed, we cheered and we got our geek on!

I had high hopes for Boris & Sergey’s One Man Extravaganza, an ambitious show featuring complicated puppetry, a crazy blurb and some wacky characters but I found it overlong and not enough laughs to hold my attention. Apart from the wonderful voicing of the characters, the expressionless puppets failed to connect with me.

Lisa Clark

I loved all the shows I reviewed with Jayde Adams (Is Jayded) being the exciting new discovery of the Fringe for me. The following are shows I loved but did not get a Squirrel write up.

Craig Ferguson ShowCraig Ferguson – The Craig Ferguson Show. All the Squirrels saw Craig’s recording of his live radio show and we all enjoyed it. Starting at 11.30pm to go live for drive time in the USA as well as Canada and Mexico, it went for 2 hours and consisted of two very entertaining in-depth chats with performers who were old friends of Craig. In our case an old close friend impressionist/comedian Jan Ravens and Scottish writer Iain Rankin.

Chris Coltrane – Make Love & Smash Fascism – a rather lovely, warm and approachable political comedian who taught me about the evils of Neo Liberalism which is extreme capitalism & pro privatisation of everything which basically seems to be the road to anarchy.

Dave Johns – I, Fillum Star. Dave Johns has been a jobbing comedian all his life and just as he was planning his retirement (he was going to give kids donkey rides at the seaside), he got a part in a film. On the 1st day director Ken Loach said, oh by the way the film is named after your character because you are the lead. I, Daniel Blake won a swag of awards taking Dave to Cannes and the BAFTAs and giving him a cracking tale to tell, and being a great comedian means Dave knows how to tell it for maximum laughs. This was a joy to experience with the message that it’s never too late.

Yianni Agisilaou – Pockets of Equality. As the title suggests, it’s about sexual politics and pockets. More importantly it was a very personal heartwarming show about love and family and one of the best shows I’ve ever seen Yianni do.

Disappointing shows were; Boris & Sergey’s One Man Extravaganza, a puppet show where three puppeteers per puppet failed to give the faceless repulsive puppets any personality, or make an interesting show. Then there was The Great Comedy Cooking Challenge which in no way described the show at all. The two guys had not planned their Festival show at all leaving the audience more bemused than amused and the main one telling the story of how he fell in love with cooking kept saying “I think that might’ve gotten a better laugh”. Nup.

Back to other highlights for me which were the inimitable and indefatigable Doug Anthony Allstars – Near Death Experience, Wifi Wars live online gaming which was a completely different kind of Festival show and finally, Simon Munnery doing a gorgeously crafted show about fixing things, bookended by two great songs. I was lucky to see Simon when Renegade Plumber had been bedded in and found it to be the tightest show I’ve seen of his in years, it was a beautiful blend of the personal and political, with the title perfectly describing the show.

Phoebe O’Brien

Fringe Shows that were highlights not formally reviewed

2 Become 1

The Swipe Right Theatre Company have created a fun and fabulous night that will capture your heart with its upbeat mix of 90’s music. It will also hit you right in the funny bone with A grade performances from a heavenly cast.

The cast of four stunning vocalists sing the hits; from Destiny’s Child to Des’ree to the Spice Girls and so many more! The 90’s bangers are intertwined within a story of friendship and heartbreak, as one of character’s, Jess breaks up with her boyfriend. After the news, her best gal pals do the only thing that would obviously ‘help’ Jess from a breakdown due to the breakup…speed dating.
At its core ‘2 Become 1’ is heartfelt and funny. You can even have a little boogie and sing-a-long of your own while you’re there. Now tell me, what more could you want? Could you really, really want?

David Quirk – Cowboy MouthDavid Quirk Cowboy mouth

After missing David Quirk during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, there was no better option than to catch his show ‘Cowboy Mouth’ at the Fringe. Quirk is the king when it comes to long form narrative story-telling, his tales from his childhood and the awkward meeting with his neighbour were tops.

Amongst the anecdotes, the show was knitted together with audio clips of the recollections of dreams people have had about him.
ps. Quirk performed on a bus and had an excellent jacket. Very cool.

Britney – John
A hidden treasure amongst the thousands of incredible Fringe shows was the sketch duo behind John. Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson are two 20 something year old mates from the UK, who make up ‘Britney’.

In their show ‘John’, the pair reminisce about the time they were just out of high school, exploring America and working on a documentary about president of Congress; John Hancock. For the documentary, they filmed interviews around America with other men with the same name. Their trip abroad became the centre for the show, with critique of the footage and their interviewing technique strong points of the show. Their ability to create stand-alone vignettes and natural storytelling was a highlight, revealing the effort both Clive and Robertson put into their follow up to their previous show ‘Britney’…which is also now the name of their duo, not confusing at all. I strongly believe we will be hearing big things from these two talented performers.

Alice Marshall – Blood
In her show solo show Blood, Alice Marshall captivates her audience with wonderfully executed character sketch comedy. Marshall has great comedic timing, while delivering a punchy hour of pure joy. I can’t wait to see more of her work further down the track.

Ron Bingham

My Squirrel fest started with a couple of excellent Aussie acts which turned out to be highlights Laura Davis (Cake in the Rain) and the Doug Anthony All Stars (Near Death Experience).

The three other shows that made me laugh out loud the most were:

Lucy Pearman – Maid of Cabbage Look What Youu Made Me Do

Demi Lardner – Look What You Made Me Do

Mark Steel – Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright.

Lucy and Demi for their props and general air of controlled chaos, and Mark for his political insights and honesty about his recent marital troubles. I also enjoyed Muriel -(Bad Master) for their use of multimedia and fun sketches and The Canon -(A Literary Sketch Show) for their literary humour

I saw some fabulous new talent (two were deservedly nominated for best newcomer – Lauren Pattison and Lucy Pearman) and caught up with some excellent established acts. Saw some early shows and some late ones, drank a little too much of the free alcohol early on, nearly got blown off the top of Arthurs Seat after seeing a show up there called This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Richie, and missed a lot of acts (ones I regret most not managing to fit into my schedule include Sarah Kendall, Ingrid Oliver and Hannah Gadsby). Importantly I only saw two shows which didn’t achieve the high standard I expect. Met a lot of lovely people, as always, and have already pre-booked for next year.

Laura Davis – Cake in the Rain

By Lisa Clark
Cake In The Rain
It seems that the ravages of 2016 have affected the comedians of this years MICF deeply. So far the majority of shows I’ve seen have been about fear and anxiety. Laura Davis’s show is about the world disintegrating around us like a cake in the rain.

Laura has developed in leaps and bounds as a comedian since moving to Melbourne from Perth. Her first show was based on her life and health issues which explain why there is a sense of fragility to her standup style, but what has emerged over the years is that not unlike Wolverine she has a backbone of Adamantium and a mind like a steel trap. Laura’s best work has a political edge that can produce an audible jaw drop from the audience with cutting lines that can suddenly and unexpectedly stab you in the solar plexus.

Laura’s show rages against the hallmarks of the approaching apocalypse and not always at the usual suspects. She hates the dumb supercilious doomsday preppers who haven’t really thought it all through and our own smugness in thinking that we as Australians are better than America or the UK when in fact, we have our own issues we should be dealing with. Laura has learned firsthand how wealthy companies won’t pay their staff properly through hilariously horrific sounding gigs she has had to turn down. The impressive part is how Laura has such a unique and hilarious take on all of these things.

I don’t like comparing comedians but at the moment I would compare Laura to Wil Anderson. Laura is that good. She can wrangle an audience into submission and have them eating out of her hand. She has her own refreshingly unique take on the world that is hilarious and at times devastating in its honesty. The underground bunker vibe of Fort Delta is perfect for the post-apocalyptic admonitions of Cake in the Rain, but it is clear that the astonishingly talented Laura should be in massive rooms playing to Wil Anderson level audiences.

Laura Davis’ Cake In The Rain is on at Fort Delta until April 22
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/laura-davis

Political Asylum’s U.S. Election Comedy Special – A satirical guide to the upcoming U.S. election

By Lisa Clark political-asylum-pic

Political Asylum has been a regular part of the Melbourne Comedy scene since 2009 with a monthly show and elections specials, it has also always been part of Melbourne Fringe Festival. This year at Fringe they could not help but do a special about American Politics and the extraordinary shenanigans leading up to this year’s American Presidential Election. This is probably influenced by the fact that two of the main producers of Political Asylum have been living in the U.S. for the past couple of years.

The atmosphere in the main room at The Lithuanian Club was set beautifully with the American flag flying on screen, red white and blue balloons and streamers (Go Doggies! Oops the AFL finals are on, sorry) and American political music playing, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan etc. Host Toby Halligan was energetic and firing on point with great snark and sharp observations and carried the ninety minute showcase well.

First up Laura Davis who just keeps getting better every time I see her, slaying the crowd with her material about gun control and then her magnificent feminist gear which though slightly off point was so stunning she had the audience gobsmacked and delighted. This was followed by Michael Shaffer who really impressed with his relaxed on stage persona and smart up to the minute jokes about things that have just happened in American politics. I look forward to seeing more of Michael in the future.

Impressive up and coming Alanta Colley changed the pace of straight standup to present us with a hilarious political quiz a bit like Who Am I from Sale of The Century but without the home viewer. It was a fantastic way to expose the politician’s appalling and ridiculously inappropriate CV. Am looking forward to seeing Alanta’s own show later in the festival.

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall changed the pace again, for his delightfully daggy, “Meanwhile in Canada”. A Canadian expat, Alasdair celebrated Prime Minister Trudeau and focused on the contrast of the sanity of Canadian politics verses its disturbing next door neighbour. He used the big screen for his accompanying pictures well.

It was time to welcome back Matt Kenneally from his two years studying in America. He had a lot to joke about with his only glitch being his ignorance about the rise of gun violence in Melbourne over the past year. Not to the extent of the US but worrying none the less. He’ll soon pick things up and anyway, this was about America and there he knew what he was talking about. He knows people who are voting Trump and why. He shared the terrifying heart of the election. It’s great to see Matt on stage again doing comedy about politics where he has always shone.

It’s also fantastic to see Jess Moir on stage bringing her bubbly personality to political comedy again. Not sure why I’ve not see her for a while but she’s an intelligent endearing comedian and I hope she does more in the future. Then the traditional finale with the not quite so bubbly but still amazingly energetic Grandfather of Australian political comedy Rod Quantock. Still able to surprise and have fun while making caustic observances and inciting revolt. He’s a legend.

I loved that the comedians stayed on topic and were making astute jokes about recent incidents rather than hashing up old tropes. I particularly appreciated the lack of lazy ‘jokes’ about Donald Trumps hair. These were good political humourists, they went for the policies and the quotes.

This was the first of two Political Asylum’s at Fringe this year. The main team (Toby Halligan, Mathew Kenneally, Jess Moir, Alanta Colley and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall) are a solid group worth getting out for and the guests which will be different for the next performances will be just as good as tonight’s I’m sure. What better way of spending a night at Fringe than laughing at America.

Political Asylum’s U.S. Election Comedy Special is on at The Lithuanian Club – Main Theatre Sept 16 and 17 at 8.30pm

https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/political-asylums-us-election-comedy-special/eefbbb7b-b5a7-4470-9527-01cba29fa458