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!

 

WATSON – The Life Education Van for Adults!

By Elyce Phillips Watson Life education Van

When you’re a kid, everything’s easy. A big van comes round to your school and a puppet tells you how to live your life. You’re sorted. But as an adult, puppet-based life advice is sorely lacking, and that’s where WATSON (Tegan Higginbotham, Adam McKenzie and Liam Ryan) come in. In The Life Education Van for Adults, WATSON tackle the big issues we face as grown-ups – relationships, sex, employment – and give questionable tips on how to get by, via the magic of sketch comedy.

The trio had a difficult task this year, following on from the success of Who’s Afraid of the Dark?, their very successful Melbourne Gaol show. The Life Education Van for Adults is simpler in its staging and scope, but just as hilarious. We see snippets of the show they do for schools, tips for the adults in the room and some flashbacks that show how they became the people they are today. Linking everything together is a story about the group being stuck in the desert that provides great opportunity to showcase their superb comedic relationship. Higginbotham, McKenzie and Ryan are equally strong performers, each taking a turn at being the most ridiculous person on stage.

WATSON are a group of performers that look like they’re having an enormous amount of fun, and that energy is infectious. Their sketches are witty and sharply-written, but performed in a slightly shambolic way that makes them feel off-the-cuff. Higginbotham, McKenzie and Ryan deliver the laughs the whole way through, with particular highlights being a section on life hacks and a sketch about dating in the modern era, told with Jane Austen-style sensibilities.

The Life Education van for Adults is highly entertaining, wonderfully silly, and if you do a little googling at home, possibly very educational. Get in fast if you’re keen to check it out, as shows have been selling out.

WATSON – The Life Education Van for Adults! is on at Melbourne Town Hall’s Backstage Room until April 16

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/the-life-education-van-for-adults-watson

Tegan Higginbotham : In the City of Love

By Philip Lescaut
Tegan City of Love

In the City of Love is a show that’s centred on a disappointing early-20s voyage to Paris, but Tegan Higginbotham, the charming, perennially smiling protagonist of the story, deftly weaves into it much broader topics and punch lines than just the inevitable let-downs of international travel. Sure, she does touch on the cliché of Paris as a romantic Eden to the rest of the world where every couple is Lady and the Tramp-ing a baguette at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. But the fact that Paris in reality is often piss-soaked and unwelcoming is itself becoming a cliché, and Higginbotham, now ten years into her career at MICF, wisely keeps those observations to an illuminating few during an hour of humour that dances from topic to topic, and from the observational to the confessional.

Higginbotham’s experience as both a comedian and an actor is obvious in City of Love. One minute she tells personal stories, the next she goes on observational tangents. Though she’s astute when diagnosing our shared anxieties over public bathroom etiquette and other non-problems, easily the best and bravest portion of her show was when she shared some artefacts she’d dug up from her youth. You know how as adolescents we all did something that completely sucked? Maybe it was a shitty band, or break dancing at a talent show, or perhaps most ubiquitous, keeping a lame diary with all the lame pseudo-adult observations of an actual non-adult. Well, this is the calibre of stuff Tegan shares, blown up on the projector beside her, and it killed. I won’t spoil for you exactly what she shares, but it’s real and squirmy and awesome. Although this is the obvious peak, the rest of her set is strong, and is generally delivered pitch perfectly. In fact, if there is one thing Tegan could tweak, it would be to deliver some of her lines more casually. Where the honesty around her embarrassing teenage expressions of creativity renders her completely endearing, occasional moments where she perfectly enunciates a punch line can bring out more of the actor than the comedian in her, and can leave you doubting the story.

Overall, In the City of Love is a fine show, thoughtfully written (if occasionally delivered a little too perfectly), and showcases a hard-working comedian in the prime of her talent. (This probably won’t interest anyone but a French or women’s history buff, but extra kudos to Tegan for her nuanced interpretation of Marie Antoinette as more than just a narcissistic cake-pusher but rather a relatively powerless cog in a sick social order. Okay, uh… let’s get back to the review.) Though it’s definitely not an after-school special, it often has the tenderness of an old sitcom, especially evident by the hour’s end; though on the surface it’s about Tegan’s journey to France’s capital, In the City of Love is a considerate meditation on the bittersweet adult realities of childhood dreams.

In The City of Love is on at the Greek Centre until April 3

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/the-city-of-love-tegan-higginbotham-in

Five Good Reasons to see Tegan Higginbotham in The City of Love

1.    It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than actually going to Paris:

It’s been a lifelong dream of Tegan’s to visit La ville de l’amour, and in The City of Love she’ll take you there with her totally wonderful mouth-words (which is kind of the same as going on an actual holiday but you don’t have to stop over in Kuala Lumpar to experience it)

2.    Tegan answers the long disputed question… Why does Paris smell like wee? 

Because it does. It really does. And Tegan has figured out why.

3.    Tegan’s performing 10 shows to celebrate 10 years of MICF!

The City of Love marks a decade of Comedy Festivals for Tegan. And after a limited preview season, many agree that Higginbotham is most certainly at the top of her game. So make sure you catch The City of Love, because going by that logic it’s all downhill from here.

4.    It’s her Birthday on the 25thof March and she’s putting on a special Birthday show. 

So… you know… you’re kind of a monster if you don’t come.

5.    She doesn’t talk in third person throughout the show…

Unlike here, where she’s clearly trying to create the illusion that someone else has had a hand in putting this list together. They haven’t. It’s Tegan writing this. Hello.

 

So I guess I should finish by adding, on behalf of Tegan, that she’s had a hell of a fun time putting this show together (In fact, it’s her favorite show yet) and she’d love for you to come along. That said, she’s also aware there are some other great shows on this year from comedians including (but CLEARLY not limited to) Liam Ryan, Victoria Healy, Justin Hamilton, Rama Nicholas, Nath Valvo, WATSON (a group with which she has absolutely no vested interest), Laura Davis, and Sammy J & Randy. More than anything, just make sure you have a good Festival.

From,

Nameless Individual (who is definitely not Tegan)

Tegan Higginbotham performs The City of Love at The Greek Centre

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/the-city-of-love-tegan-higginbotham-in

 

The Funny Babe Fest

Running over five nights, Funny Babe Fest showcases over twenty five different acts – all written and performed by women. Profits from the season will be donated to global charity Equality Now.

The festival includes performances by Bev Killick, Tegan Higginbotham, sketch duo Nat Harris & Megan McCrea, Bone Marrow Theatre, Kate Denhert, Lisa-Skye, Play Like a Girl (The Improv Conspiracy), The Cheese Girls, Rachel Leary, Rose Callaghan, Joanne Brookfield, and Clara Cupcakes.

If for some reason you need further convincing to see a show during this brilliant festival, here are 5 Good Reasons to see Funny Babe Fest:

1. Every show has a different line up – over 30 acts appearing across five nights!

2. There’s something for every flavour of comedy lover. Everything from stand-up to cabaret, funny characters and short plays, to improv and puppetry.

3. Each performer is a kick-ass funny lady.

4. Many of the performers are sampling their upcoming Comedy Festival shows, so you can get a preview of what’s on offer at the Festival.

5. Profits from the season are going to ‘Equality Now’, which works globally to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls.

The Funny Babe Fest is on at The Butterfly Club from Tue 17 to Sun 22 March, 8pm (Tue/ Wed/ Sun) & 9pm (Thu/ Fri/ Sat).
Visit the Butterfly Club Website for all the details and Bookings.

Watson: Who’s Afraid of the Dark?

By Noel Kelso

Do you like scary stories, dear reader? (This review really should be read in a low whisper of a voice with an upper-class English accent for best effect)

You do? Oh – in that case – you are in luck.

This year at Melbourne Fringe Watson have a story filled with scares to tell and I braved the darkness of the Melbourne Gaol to bring you this review.

Previous efforts from this performance troupe has seen them recreate some of Shakespeare’s greatest fight scenes and embark on an interplanetary mission to battle terrifying alien creatures sporting celebrity names. Both of which have been quite light-hearted affairs. Their latest effort ‘Who’s Afraid of the Dark?’ is an altogether different kettle of fish.

As I arrived at Melbourne Gaol the usher welcomed me  and said that should the show prove too scary there is a safety word which I could call-out and I would be escorted from the venue to safety.

Safety word? O-kay…

Tegan Higginbotham then loomed out from the dark of a corridor and pointed me in the correct direction for the room in which the evening begins and I took my seat with the rest of the audience. She then proceeded to tell us all in the room a little bit of the grisly history of the venue and re-iterated the usher’s warning of how scary this evening will be and emphasised the safety word once more. Tegan was then joined by Adam McKenzie who made his entrance in typically jocular manner before events began to take a turn for the ghostly and he had to be rescued through the timely arrival of Liam Ryan brandishing a bible. To say any more would surely spoil the show.

So – what can I say about this show without ruining the surprises?

Like previous efforts from this group this is a very funny show with plenty of laughs and silly humour, but this is contrasted with a rich seam of scares throughout. The atmosphere of terror in the show is accentuated by the thorough use of the venue itself – Melbourne Gaol and really showcases the acting range of the three lead performers.Particular praise must also be given to those involved in support who help transform the gaol from mundane aging bricks and mortar to a creepy portal to Hell through great use of sound, lighting and careful prop placement.

This show certainly provides laughs and scares in equal measure and I would recommend it in a heartbeat – if my heart were still beating. Alas, I too fell victim to the ghosts of the gaol and have now joined their ranks, but unlike that poor attempt at scares I just typed this show is pitch-perfect.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Watson is on at the City Watch House, Old Melbourne Gaol until October 2nd.

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/watson-who-s-afraid-of-the-dark/