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

Jay Morrissey and Danielle Walker: Illuminate Karate Party.

By Lisa Clark Jay & Danielle

This is a one of those shows where two newcomers pair up to put on a Festival show together and do half the show each. Jay Morrissey and Danielle Walker have both been finalists at RAW and are pleasant company but still have a way to go before standing out in the huge and unwieldy Festival the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has become.

Needless to say there is no Karate in this show, sorry Karate fans, it’s just a very cute title and nothing to do with the comedy on offer. Danielle and Jay have worked out a nice structure of one set each with a short pre-recorded video before each staring both of them. The videos link the two performers in a rom-com plot, they are well made and pretty funny.

I’ve seen Danielle Walker doing standup around town over the past twelve months and have been very impressed by her individual style. There is a hilariously psycho edge to her cheerful country charm that pops out every now and then. Not too often, which is great, she’s learning where to let the psycho out and when to rein her in. It’s great to be part of the experience of Danielle developing her fabulous unique comedy voice. She also has delightful material about her nutty family and being from Townsville. She describes her family Christmas ritual of butchering a pig and other ways that her family might be a bit different to other people she meets in the city and has the audience laughing pretty much throughout.

I’ve not seen Jay Morrissey before, but other Squirrels have enjoyed previous outings by him and he comes across as pretty affable. Like Danielle he tells stories about his dad, family and friends. Unfortunately he stops to explain an early routine, and not in an ironic way. A bit about a facebook experiment where he tweets word for word the same as a pretty girl online to see if he gets the same amount of likes, is not an original idea but has a lot of potential, if he does more work on it and possibly creates the screen shots to go with it. Most of his material (singing replies to an old Shania Twain song, designing a bizarre funeral that has nothing to do with his life and a bunch of stiffy jokes) doesn’t feel very fresh or unique to Jay. He has a lot more work to do in small comedy rooms to really find his own strong comedy voice and material that works better for him and hopefully will help him stand out in a sea of similar comedians.

It’s not surprising that young performers talk about their families, they have not had a lot of life experience to talk about much else, it’s finding the laughs that’s the main thing. This show is unsurprisingly uneven, but both comedians show potential. If they put a lot more work in, these performers will grow and develop and it will be interesting to see where they go.

Jay Morrissey and Danielle Walker: Illuminate Karate Party is on at The Imperial Hotel

for more info go to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Website: