Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award Winners for 2016

by Lisa Clark

It has been an amazing year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In a first for the Festival – The Winner of the Barry Award, Zoe Coombs-Marr, is also the Winner of the Golden Gibbo. So it’s a Barry Winner who is brave and independent and we couldn’t be happier for Zoe. Presented via Skype (also a first) by last year’s winner Sam Simmons, the award was for Zoe’s show Trigger Warning starring her gender bending alter ego called Dave. There was Big Buzz around all the Winners this year, with none being a huge surprise and all being lauded and promoted by word of mouth and on social media for weeks. All of the nominees were favourites with everyone and those of us who got out to see them are very happy about them all being held up for celebration. It’s also a rare year where all the winners are Australian, and rightly so. So congratulations to Everyone!!

If Anne Edmonds and Damien Power are a bit sad about missing out on a Barry, they can be cheered by their Directors Awards win as True Australian Patriots and know that their own shows were loved too. True Aussie Patriots – Live was some of the best political and social satire seen on an Australian stage performed by some our best comedians (2 of them having been nominated for Barrys – the other Greg, didn’t do a solo show this year to be nominated, but won the Golden Gibbo as part of Fancy Boys two years ago.) Rhys Nicholson, can take heart in the fact that his new wife Zoe won the Barry and that their big fat gay wedding at the Festival Club last night will go down in Festival history and Legend.

I think I saw co winners of The Directors Award, Zanzoop – Feeble Minds, before a lot of ‘official’ people managed to and have been singing it’s praises to everyone ever since. A truly insane, intelligent, incredible, late night chat show hosted by the wise cracking green alien Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) that surprises you by having sweetness at its heart, performed by some sincerely talented, charismatic people. It also contains Best Newcomer Tom Walker who shines in both Feeble Minds and his own gentle and delightful immersive clowning show Beep Boop.

The Pinder Prize (Named after the late John Pinder who was an original co-founder of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and opened some of the first comedy rooms in Melbourne in the 1970s – The Flying Trapese and The Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant) is a brand new award at the festival which sends recipient – Tom Ballard – to Edinburgh Fringe to perform as part of the Assembly Theatre Program.

Remember that there is still another day of Festival shows tomorrow and some shows cancelled due to illness will hopefully be rescheduled in Melbourne Soon.

Readers from other states:  You can look forward to seeing some of these shows or performers in your town soon.

Here are the Award Winners for 2016Zoe as Dave


Winner: Zoe Coombs-Marr – Trigger Warning

Damien Power – Sell Mum into Slavery
Luisa Omielan (UK) – Am I Right Ladies?!
Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening
Anne Edmonds That’s Eddotainment
David O’Doherty (IRE) – We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At David O’Doherty
Rhys Nicholson – Bone FideTom Walker


Winner: Tom Walker – Beep Boop

Demi Lardner – Life Mechanic
Guy Montgomery (NZ) – Guy Montcomedy
Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Finally Dead

GOLDEN GIBBO AWARD (Independant & Creative show)

Winner: Zoe Coombs-Marr – Trigger WarningTom Ballard pic

Asher Treleaven & Gypsy Wood – Peter & Bambi Heaven – The Magic Inside
Luis Brown – Lessons With Luis
Tommy Dassallo – Little Golden Dassallo

THE PINDER PRIZE (including a trip to the Edinburgh Festival):

Winner: Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening

PIECE OF WOOD (Peer Voted – Comedian’s Choice):

Winner: Chris Wainhouse – The AntichrisTrue Australian Patriots


Winners: (Anne Edmonds, Damian Power and Greg Larsen) True Australian Patriots – Live


Winners: (Sam Campbell, Cam Campbell, Tom Walker and Aaron Chen) Zanzoop – Feeble Minds

Peoples choice: Carl Barron Drinking with a Fork

Funny Tonne (Audience Member seeing the most [over 100] shows): Jeremy McPherson


Deadly Funny National Champion – Jalen Sutcliffe

Class Clowns National Champion – Lauren Duong from the ACT

RAW Comedy Award (Including a trip to the Edinburgh Festival)- Danielle Walker from Victoria

Zanzoop : Feeble Minds

By Colin Flaherty Zanzoop pic

Whoo Boy! You know that you are in for a wild time when a show is advertised as a being like “Dr. Phil on ketamine” that’s hosted by a “naked party-alien”. Zanzoop: Feeble Minds, the result of a collaboration between Sam Campbell, Tom Walker and Aaron Chen, is a glorious mess of a show and is sure to be a late night cult hit of the festival.

The titular character of Zanzoop (played by Campbell) is a wonderfully snarky and aggressive creature who spends the show interviewing a cavalcade of bizarre characters and attempts to sort out humanity’s various problems. We meet people such as a ball-boy and his handler, Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan, and a promiscuous bird. His “solutions” are formulated via some truly unique and amusing means that may or may not help but are amazing spectacles.

While on the surface this show may appear to be lots of weirdness just for the sake of it, there is some depth to this strangeness. Some of the routines will leave you scratching your head but this world has its own bizarre logic and sticks to it. From surreal concepts to gross out jokes, they run the gauntlet of humour and even manage to sneak in a bit of social satire into this lunacy.

The show is played so loosely that it is difficult to separate the scripted lines from those that are merely off the cuff remarks. With all the cast constantly on the cusp of corpsing you can see that they are often caught on the hop as to where things are actually leading. When Zanzoop takes on board the odd interjection from enthusiastic punters, things threaten to go further off the rails. As to whether these are pre-planned (they do thank their “plant” at the end) is a matter of contention. Campbell regularly breaks character to offer honest appraisal of the stupid shit going on; a nice little touch that puts the audience at ease when things get a little too weird.

The costuming is brilliantly second rate with wonderful attention to detail. White bodystockings act as blank canvas for most of the characters with all sorts of elaborate headgear used to flesh things out. Aside from the slapped on body paint getting all over, things get rather messy on stage as anarchy ensues. Video footage is used with mixed results but mainly exists for some demented shock value.

If you’re not a stickler for neat narrative structure and perfectly delivered lines, this will appeal to you, particularly those who like it weird. Put on your freaky hat and rush out to see this!

Feeble Minds is on at Roxanne until April 16