The 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards

This afternoon the Melbourne International Comedy Festival announced the 2021 Award winners at the Toff In Town, with host Adam Hills. Adam mentioned how incredibly strong the majority of the shows at this year’s festival were and he was right. The duds were rare and everything that was good was Absolutely brilliant! It must have been very difficult for the judges this year.
We could not be happier to announce the winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award 2021 for the Most Outstanding Show is Geraldine Hickey! Hickey said in her thank you speech: “I’d kind of like to dedicate this award to anyone who’s in the middle of their career and at the tipping point of, Is this working? Should I keep going? No one notices me. Well keep going ’cause fuck I did and look at me now!” To big cheers.
Now, when is she getting to host a TV show / her own Netflix special? Soon I hope. She has been selling out live shows for years now.

Most Outstanding Show: Geraldine Hickey What a Surprise!
Nominees:
Aaron Chen – Sorry Forever
David Quirk – Astonishing Obscurity
Ivan Aristeguieta – Piñata
Luke Heggie – Lowbreed
Michelle Brasier – Average Bear
Nikki Britton – One Small Step
Reuben Kaye – The Butch is Back

Best Newcomer Award: Charlie Zangel – Cockatiel 
You may know Charlie Zangel who has been performing for years as Charity Werk
Nominees:
Anna Piper Scott – Queer & Present Danger
Chris Ryan – Big Hair, Big Dreams
Scout Boxall – Good Egg

The Golden Gibbo: Nat Harris & Hannah Camilleri! – Pet-Nat + Han ah  Chocolat.
An award given for creativity and bravery.
Nominees:
Claire Sullivan – Toast Rat
Woah, Alyssa! – Woah, Alyssa! 3
Ben Knight – Teacher
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall and Andy Matthews! – Teleport

Directors’ Choice Award: Melanie Bracewell – The Rumours Are True 
A New Zealander you may know from her regular appearances on Have You Been Paying Attention, she accepted this in her netball uniform.

The People’s Choice Award: Daniel Sloss
This award is for most tickets sold across the 2021 Festival and UK comedian Sloss was very closely followed by Tommy Little.

The Piece of Wood: Greg Larsen – This Might Not Be Hell.
This award is chosen by other comedians in the festival for one of their own.

Funny Tonne: Winner Ben Carruthers
As I publish He’s seen 79 shows, and written 52 reviews, he said the emphasis was put on review quality this year.
The funny Tonners didn’t start their run until after the Festival had begun and were somewhat outshined by comedian Blake Everett, who is up in the 90s and has given nearly every one of them a quick positive review on twitter. And he is performing in his own acclaimed festival show Blake and Oliver Dig Their Own Graves and also did tech for award nominated Toast Rat.

RAW Comedy winner: Prue Blake (VIC)! Runner-up Patrick Golamco (NSW) and Specials Mentions to Dhruv Iyer (WA) and Jayde O’Brien (QLD)

Class Clowns National Champ: Dhruv Rhao (who was the youngest nominee) Runners-up: Jai Uhlmann and Sophia Marosszeky

The Deadly Funny Award: TBA

Annie and Lena : This Is Our Show

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to believe that Annie and Lena have been working as a sketch comedy team for only two years. Their debut at Melbourne Fringe in 2019 felt like they’d been doing it for years. It was an introduction and exploration of their talents, whereas in This is Our show they are more assured in where their strengths lay and how their relationship works on stage.

A lot of water has run under the bridge since Fringe 2019 and they have reworked the whole show, dropping the TV theme (who’s watching TV these days?) while keeping some of the best sketches. This is Our Show is themed around mental illness which appears to be inspired by Lena’s adult diagnosis of ADHD. The theme brings extra poignancy to some of their best sketches such as embarrassing Boomer Mum giving a drunken speech at her daughter’s graduation from Women’s Studies and their take on Homer’s soul sucking Sirens.

The new sketch highlights this year include Bogan farmers talking about their love of “digging holes”, the weird awkwardness of bra fittings, a chirpy song about accidentally running over your pets and the “Red Flag Twist” a song and dance number about dating dodgy men. The other joy was just the in between banter between the two. Having fun on stage, despite some serious technical issues (their first night in a new space) and their impro skills shone through as they quipped about things going wrong. I also loved them bringing out the “Funny or Depressing?” score board, where the audience gets to vote and see previous votes. It would’ve been nice to have this up the back through the whole show and have a running tally of selected sketches.

It’s great to see women teaming up into double acts and killing it. Annie is dark and sardonic trying desperately to keep the show on track while Lena is the bumbling, chirpy one they play many different roles well, but it is when they are being themselves that they really shine. Looking forward to more from these two.

This Is Our Show has finished it’s run

Tommy Little: I’ll See Myself Out

By Dali Sulejmani-Blackwel 

Tommy Little, in his performance I’ll See Myself Out demonstrates why he has become such a well-known TV personality, with his strong wit and relatable content he is also truly excellent in his showmanship.

Straight up Tommy shows his innate ability to involve the crowd in his performance, treating them as old friends. He does not shy away from audience members taking photos of him or showing off his improv skills while chatting with the crowd and he does not let many off lightly, whether audience members or objects of his humour.

Little, is a middle-aged single man dealing with losing his youth, but keeping young at heart which gives him the knack to relate to those of all ages. The show is like catching up with a mate who’s got many a tall tale to share. Tommy also covered a smorgasbord of topics, ranging from betting on the uber eats driver to skydiving. At times it felt like a show within a show, the side titbits arguably take up most of the show but it sure pays off, as it gets the audience gasping for air or on the edge of their seats.

Tommy’s personability allows him to perform sometimes edgy material that would shock and awe those not accustomed to his no-holds-barred brand of comedy. Little, is the naughty class clown you can’t get enough of, his comedy is superficial at times, but it is sure to make you laugh, cringe or both at the same time.

I’ll See Myself Out makes you think about that adage, time flies when you are having fun. Little’s delivery of jokes about the seemingly banal moments in life is a laugh riot and this is certainly a show worth seeing this year.

Tommy Little performs I’ll See Myself Out until 17th of April

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/tommy-little

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall & Andy Matthews: Teleport

By Lisa Clark 

Hey potential investors. Can I interest you in a comedy show? About teleportation. Who doesn’t love the idea of teleportation? Bye Bye commute! Who wants a Journey? ew. Come and see Martin Chrysalis and Jerry Roberts explain ALL the ins and outs and ups and downs and to and fros in a show that packs more laughs per minute than any other in the festival I’ve seen this year: Teleport.

Comedians Andy Matthews and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall are behind the endearing and fascinating characters of Martin and Jerry. Throughout their silly, sciencey spiel we glean snatches of their backstory and genial relationship. Andy and Alasdair have created a fabulous comedy double act that seem to break the known rules of comedy duos, instead of shouting at and insulting each other, they gently encourage and support each other, making the audience’s hearts ache in between the jaw aching laughter. After loving their last delightful nerdy show Magma, that became the big buzz of 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I’ve been looking forward to this next show, for 2 years! I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations, then surpassed them.

The writing is exquisitely tight, the many ingenious moments in Teleport will hit you hours later and you will laugh again. The guys aren’t mic’d up so at times you might have to try to control your laughing so you won’t miss the next hilarious line. Or possibly explode. I never thought I’d get the urge to give a standing ovation to a pun, but the cheering audience came pretty close and if someone else had stood I would’ve joined them.

I was sore from the constant howling, my friend was laughing through her second joyful viewing and I saw a woman in front of me appear to turn into a puddle, I was worried she may lose control of her bodily functions! Alright there were two guys in my row who remained stoic, maybe this was not their show, it’s a big festival and I know there is one out there for them. This daggy, sci-fi comedy was definitely for me.

Already nominated for a Golden Gibbo Award, I would’ve nominated Teleport for Most Outstanding Show myself. Have your tissues ready, but they are for crying with laughter.

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall & Andy Matthews perform Teleport at Trades Hall til Apr 18

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/teleport

Anne Edmonds and Lloyd Langford: Business with Pleasure

By Nick Bugeja 

For comedians, being a relationship has a twofold benefit. Presumably, it makes them happy, but it also yields plenty of material for their shows. Usually, the comic’s partner gets no say, no right of reply. But Business with Pleasure is different, featuring two comedians – Australia’s Anne Edmonds and Welshman Lloyd Langford – trading barbs, slights, and outright reproach about the state of their two-year relationship. ‘We don’t have to stay 1.5 metres apart’, Edmonds reminded us, all the while standing at least that distance away from Langford on stage.

Edmonds bounded onto the Comedy Theatre’s stage, with Langford sauntering behind her, immediately illustrating their contrasting comedic styles. The show began with these funny exchanges, interspersed with some obligatory remarks about how great it was that comedy has returned to Melbourne. It seemed Edmonds had the more grievances in the relationship, and Langford was struggling to keep up in the roasting contest.

Edmonds and Langford gave each other the space to perform a good 20-30 minutes of their solo material. Although, ironically, some of the best parts of these sets occurred when the other partner interjected from backstage, briskly contradicting the point being made. Edmond’s material was solid, revolving around the interesting habits she developed during lockdown, her experience on Real Dirty Dancing with ‘C-grade celebrities’, and the unfounded confidence of single dads. She was unremittingly boisterous and energetic, which many have come to expect.

Langford followed, with a lewder set than Edmonds’. Much of his humour was predicated on his laconic demeanour and excruciatingly monotone voice. It really seemed like he has developed a complete understanding of his comedic powers. Langford’s timing was crucial in executing his tightly-constructed jokes about the absurdity of adult male ‘gangs’, a massage he had in Thailand that went wrong, and the experience of visiting a fertility clinic. Despite his lower public profile, Langford certainly kept pace with Edmonds.

They closed the show by answering randomly-selected audience questions. Unfortunately, many of the questions asked were self-indulgent and, on the whole, inane. Yet, one of them – what Edmonds’ and Langford’s combined name would be – was both hilarious and telling. ‘Anlloyd’, Langford quipped, leaving the audience in raptures. Although both were readily prepared to mock each other, it clearly came from a place of love and mutual respect among comedic professionals.

Business with Pleasure is showing at the Comedy Theatre until 11 April. Tickets can be purchased here:

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/anne-edmonds-and-lloyd-langford

Emo: Black Santa

By Nick Bugeja 

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is typically dominated by white 30-something comedians, performing sets about inner-city lifestyles, featuring jokes about avocado on toast, yoga, and gluten-free products. These shows grow tiresome very quickly, covering only narrow comedic terrain.

Emo, a Sudanese-Australian comic, represents a refreshing departure from the mundanity of some corners of Australian comedy. This is manifested both in his energised style and bold material. He isn’t afraid to dive into content about race, confronting stereotypes and spinning them into rich comedic moments. People sometimes ask him: ‘what’s the deal with African gangs?’ Emo – whose name is Emmanuel Majok – wonders why they’d think a man dressed in a cardigan would have any idea.

Black Santa is a freewheeling show. You get the sense that each show takes a different form and rhythm, depending on external factors such as crowd participation and time constraints. This hardly detracts from the show, as Emo seems to thrive on spontaneity and the natural energy of the room. His interactions, especially with older white audience members, were a highlight, demonstrating how comedy can bring together diverse communities over the shared joy of laughter.

Emo’s longer-form jokes were the strongest, allowing him to build up a story with several jokes before delivering a climactic moment that tied the narrative together. An incident at a local bottle shop, and another involving Star Wars (the less said the better), were enacted with particular comedic vigour.

There’s little doubt that Emo is an up-and-coming comedian, who brings something new and exciting to Australian comedy. As Emo continues to hone his craft, it’ll be interesting to see where his comedy takes him.

Black Santa is now showing at Fad Gallery until 17 April.

Tickets are available here:

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/black-santa