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

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.

Raw Comedy Grand Final

By Elyce Phillips

Raw Comedy is the biggest open mic competition in the country. Over 1,000 acts competed over the last few months in heats in every state, and here it’s down to the final 12. Each comic performs a five minute set and at the end of the show, the judges confer to find a winner. This year’s judges were Susan Provan, Chortle’s Steve Bennett, Neal Downward from SBS, Sarah Dodd and UK comedian Steve Bugeja.

Susie Youssef hosted the two-hour show, keeping the crowd warm with material about performing at a buck’s night and caring for her nephew. Youssef seemed a little on-edge at first, but soon settled into her role and kept the proceedings running smoothly.

The first of the contestants was Andrew Bensley from the ACT, who started the show on a strong note with some solid observational stand-up. His take on Thai massages was fun, but not particularly unique and didn’t stack up against later contenders.

Next up was Hobart’s Isabella Roldan who burst onto the stage brimming with confidence. The latter half of her set where she focused on her Spanish language background was entertaining, however, her entire set was punctuated with little asides and catch phrases that felt very forced. It was a performance that was full of energy, but an energy that was mismatched with Roldan’s stand-up on the day.

Jason Williams then took to the stage, all the way from Darwin. Williams provided some more observational thoughts, with jokes about relatable things like system updates on recently-purchased technology and whitegoods. It was a fine set, performed well, although it felt like material that we’ve heard before.

Perth contestant Shaquille Blackley was the first stand-out of the show, and he walks away with second runner up. A gangly, pale, hipster-looking man, Blackley is just about the opposite of what you would expect from his name, and he uses this to full advantage at the start of his set. His later material about various idioms is clever and the audience clearly loves it.

The second bracket continues with Bonnie Tangey, who presents the first and only deviation from straight stand-up with a prop joke up top. It’s absolutely hilarious, and so it’s a shame when she moves on from this absurd line of humour on to more well-trodden territory about being awkward and single. The set as a whole is great and Tangey comes in as first runner up.

Oliver Twist, a relatively recent immigrant from Brisbane, is up next. Twist’s delivery is a little shaky, but his material is wonderful. His tale of a racist magpie is hilarious and he talks about the police attention he gets in a unique way. Twist may not have walked away with a prize, but with a few more years of performing under his belt, I suspect he’ll do well.

The third group started with Billy D’Arcy from Sydney. His material was well received, though I was personally put off by his tale of getting into a fight at a club over a girl. The main joke of his set seemed to be that he’s not particularly “manly”, which feels pretty outdated in this day and age.

Adelaide’s Carla Wills then took to the stage, boldly stating that she has been inspired to become a pervert. Wills turns public transport harassment on its head, with a story that begins with approaching a man on the bus and telling him he should smile. It’s a terrific set with a clear point of view, but it doesn’t draw a huge response from the crowd – more dry chuckles than uproarious outbursts.

The first of three Melbourne-based contenders is up next – Josh Webb. Webb’s opening gambit starts with a little twist, turning a routine that’s seemingly about gyms into an extensive rant about Jim’s Mowing etc. It dips a little in the middle, but picks up steam the longer and weirder it drags on. Ending the set with an old rap from his school days is an admirable attempt to get the energy of the the crowd up, however, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

The show heads into the final quarter with Brad Hollis from Adelaide whose stiff, nervous delivery sat somewhere in between very real awkwardness and anti-comedic performance. The character wasn’t quite pushed hard enough to land. There was something really endearing about Hollis’ set, though, and it definitely resonated with pockets of the audience. It was entertaining, but divisive.

Sharon Andrews from Torquay was the penultimate act and she presented herself as one of the more polished acts in the show. Andrews was self-assured and completely owned her stage persona. Her jokes about country lesbians and jockey mix-ups were received well.

Last up was Melbourne’s Zach Dyer, the winner of this year’s grand final. Dyer’s material about Melbourne played well to the home audience, and his take on Pauline Hanson had enough of an idiosyncratic spark to make it interesting. He had an onstage swagger that will no doubt serve him well in his career going forward.

While the judges deliberated, we were treated to a set from the very talented Mae Martin. At this point the show had run overtime, so there were a few walkouts, but it was by no means due to the caliber of comedy on the stage. Martin killed it with stories of her early days in comedy, inspired by the acts that she had just seen.

All in all, it was a grand final with bucketloads of talent, but not a lot of diversity in genre. Of all the entrants in Raw Comedy this year, the pool was whittled down to 12 stand-up acts. Yes, they were all strong stand-up acts, but it’s disappointing to see such homogeneity in style in a competition for fresh faces when the broader festival embraces such a vast range of acts. Having said that, the contenders put on a thoroughly entertaining show and some of them are sure to become big on the local comedy in the years to come.

 

POLITICAL ASYLUM LATE NIGHT RIOT

By Angela East Polysy pic

Political Asylum is a comedy night for comedians covering the weightier issues. Hosted by Mathew Kenneally, comedian and lawyer, who along with some other like-minded comedians founded the night in 2009. Matt is a genial host and covers a wide variety of topics in his intro set and in-between guests, from the popular topic of the US president, to marriage equality and how it might affect the over-priced wedding cheeses market.

Toby Halligan is another core member of the Political Asylum team. He compares how things were back when they started nine years ago to now, and how it seems that not much has changed in that time, but reminds us with his funny takes of past presidents and how things have always been terrible.

Sameena Zahra from the UK has hilarious takes on voodoo dolls, the luxury of having bucket lists, and admiration of people’s resilience while being stuck in sniper fire during a visit to family in Kashmir, bringing in some levity.

Australian political comedy stalwart Rod Quantock has given up on everything, it’s all so terrible, and the only reason he’s here tonight, he says, is to keep his run of performing for 31 years at the Melbourne international comedy festival. But luckily he sets the timer and runs us through a very hectic and entertaining history of everything in ten minutes (or so…). As always he is a Political Asylum favourite.

Rod is a hard act to follow, but Jess Moir has amusing jokes likening Trump’s process to choosing cabinet women to witch trials, and fantasy scenarios involving everyone’s favourite president Justin Trudeau.
Canadian comic Mae Martin confidently takes to the stage, and proves popular with the assumptions made about her sexuality when dating, hippy parents, and unusual Christmas wishes.

Alanta Colley delivers a very funny and intelligent set covering Pauline Hanson’s change of mind on vaccinations, and puns on Pauline’s views on Islam, all dealt with a sure wit. Another regular guest Nazeem Hussain gets his laughs from a story about visiting the US just before the elections were held and the interaction he had with a Trump supporter he met at a rally.

Andy Zaltzman headlines and brings the evening to hilarious conclusion with commentary on all manner of topics from his news feed, golfing Trump, global wars, economics, to stranger items like our onion eating ex PM, and the suggestive nature of cucumbers.

There was barely a down moment and it was a surprise to see it had reached 1am when it wrapped up. With the state of the world as it is some the best we can do is take time out to laugh about it. While this was a special one off event at MICF, there’s still a chance to see more at the regular Political Asylum fortnightly show.

Political Asylum Late Night Riot was at the Melbourne Town hall April 8th 

For information about future regular gigs go to their website:

http://www.politicalasylum.com.au/

MAE MARTIN : DOPE

By Angela East Mae Martin

Mae Martin’s story is an interesting one, she grew up in a liberal household where she was encouraged with following the things she loved, which can lead to obsession and addiction, and in Dope Mae tells of the ways these things have played out in her life.

As a young child Bette Midler was her first obsession and her first crush, even if she wasn’t quite sure what all those feelings meant at the time, but she can see now that her love of comedy, her relationships, and dalliances with drugs are all related to the triggering of dopamine levels, which she refers to as the shrimp man in her head, and that’s the thing that controls her obsessive and addictive personality.

She makes friends with the audience with some chatty introductions, and relates her experiences in an open and light manner. Her friendly style in contrast to the serious nature of some of the subject matter, but it is also comforting, She reassures the audience that’s this isn’t going to get depressing.
Stories of her crush on Bette, and her over enthusiastic teen years spent hanging out in a comedy club are interspersed with tales about travel, her mother, and awkward dating. There’s musing on how addictions and obsession could be two sides of the same coin, which is an interesting note, but it’s not explored in any depth.

At times she is distracted by her asides and she seems a little scattered in delivery. Going off-piste does provide moments of extra laughs, but her hesitation in continuing on, or in not ending a segment confidently makes her delivery feel uncertain at times. Unfortunately when the end of the show draws near, she admits she had missed the main exposition that the final segments callback relies on. The material is delivered belatedly but jovially and the audience is on board with Mae, but it did highlight some of the insecurities in her delivery.

Mae Martin is a very likeable comedian with some great stories to tell, and despite the delivery being erratic Dope is very enjoyable with plenty of laughs throughout.

Mae Martin- Dope is on at the Melbourne Town hall until April 23rd

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/mae-martin