Sam Simmons and Dr Brown – Ceremony

By Elyce Phillips Ceremony

Two men named David get very weird in this late-night offering from Sam Simmons and Dr Brown (Phil Burgers). It’s a show that feels impossibly packed full of nonsense, like a Mary Poppins bag crammed with silly. There’s violence and nudity, shouting and destruction, but there is also love and some truly novel uses for food. Ceremony is messy, anarchic and quite possibly the most fun you can have at the festival.

The show breaks down common rituals and exposes our odd behaviours within them by taking a variety of ceremonies to the extreme, from the euphoric highs of an awards night to the emotional lows of a funeral. These events become absurd in the hands of Simmons and Burgers. It is complete mayhem. Audience members are hauled from their seats and manhandled into participation. Even when you think you’re safe, Dr Brown could appear out of nowhere and empty an entire box of cereal over your head. I had so many Coco Pops lodged in my clothing that I left a Hansel and Gretel-esque trail through the city on the way home. Every moment of Ceremony is surprising and hilarious. The audience got so into the final moments that Sam and Dr Brown eventually had to yell at us all to leave the venue.

Simmons and Burgers are two of the most inventive comedians working today and seeing them play together is incredible. Ceremony takes the most out-there aspects of both performers’ repertoires and pushes them even further. There are moments where you feel genuine fear and concern that someone is going to sustain an injury or choke on too much bread. I spent equal amounts of time laughing and clutching at my partner’s arm in awe. There are scenes in this show that will be forever etched into my memory. It’s this dangerous territory that makes Ceremony so incredibly funny. As the show progresses, you rapidly realise that there is no physical limit to what these men are willing to do, and it makes for a live comedy experience that is like no other.

Ceremony is an amazing piece of comedy from two ridiculously talented people. It’s on for one more night, so catch it if you can.

Sam Simmons and Dr Brown – Ceremony is on at Melbourne town Hall until April 5

Set List

By Ellyse O’Halloran

Set List is a rollercoaster ride of randomness, hilarity and fun where comedians are given a never before seen set list and are forced to improvise a set in front of your eyes. After seeing the show last year and loving it, I was so eager to go back again and it definitely did not disappoint. Troy Conrad is the mastermind behind Set List with the help of Paul Provenza who MCs the show and does a fantastic job of warming the crowd up and creating a supportive atmosphere and great vibe.

On Saturday the lineup included Celia Pacquola, Gordon Southern, Dave Bloustein, Sam Simmons, Sara Pascoe and Sean Cullen and the topics ranged from ‘Loans for Dogs’ to ‘Non-Sexual Hand Job’. We see the topics at the same time as the comedians and it’s so entertaining watching them squirm and sometimes even be surprised by their own wit and intelligence.

The room is packed with supportive punters, who are asked by Provenza to be the ‘wind beneath the comics’ wings’. No one is there to see the comics fail, they are there to witness in real-time how comics develop content.

One of the greatest things about the show is that you don’t know what to expect and neither do the people on stage. Every performance will be completely different from the last with new comedians and new topics each night. It’s a show I’d encourage you to see multiple times, as different comedians tackle the beast in different ways.

There’s something special about knowing that the entertainment is unique to the night and is for this audience and this audience only. You can try to explain how hilarious and sidesplitting certain gags were, but more often that not you’ll find all the moments during Set List were had-to-be-there moments. It has to be seen to be believed so be prepared to convert the non-believers by taking them with you to enjoy another night of improvised hilarity.

Set List is on at the Victoria Hotel until April 19

Squirrels Top 5 Picks of the Festival

Well the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is winding down this weekend.

We no longer hand out awards, because it is just too difficult for us to see everything, or even see the same shows as each other. Instead most of the Squirrels have picked their Top 5 shows. If they are still running we recommend that you might like to see some of them this weekend. It was really hard to narrow it down to only five.

Of course the festival isn’t over yet and we may see something that changes our list but we wanted to put this up before the festival was over so you could gain from our recommendations.

You’ll notice a few of the names crop up more than once. Some sold out shows are putting on extra performances in the final weekend like the play Choir Girl that had finished its run of three performances, but has added one on Sunday afternoon.

Check out the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website for details and keep festivalling ’til you drop!!

Lisa Clark 

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Dave Bloustien – The Grand Gignol

The Writers

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Sammy J – Potentially


Caitlin Crowley

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Michael Workman – Ave Loretta

Best Comics Worst Gigs

Dave O’Neil – 33 Things I Should Have Said No To



Cathy Culliver 

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Dr Professor Neal Portenza

Ryan Coffey – Late & Loud


Colin Flaherty 

Fabian Lapham & The Actual Musicans:God Fights the Dinosaurs & 9 Other Stories That Will Awesome You in the Face.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Set List

Choir Girl – Sarah Collins

David Quirk – Shaking Hands with danger


Elyce Phillips 

Lessons with Luis – Famoucity!

Lords of Luxury

Sam Simmons – Shitty Trivia

Lawrence Leung’s Part-time Detective Agency

Mike Birbiglia – My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend


Luke Simmons 

Khaled Khalafalla – Devious

Brendon Walsh

Bev Killick – Goes “There”…Again

Daniel Connell – Mr Personality 1988

Trevor Noah – The Racist


2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival finishes on Sunday 21st of April

Sam Simmons – Shitty Trivia

By Lisa Clark

Considering that Sam Simmons created a brilliant television show for the ABC (Problems) at short notice last year it is astonishing that Sam has had the time to get together a full length comedy festival show at all. It isn’t up to last year’s glorious and romantic About The Weather but it’s Sam’s loopy equivalent of an hour of standup and that’s pretty damn entertaining.

If you’ve seen Problems you’ll have an idea of his Pub Trivia Guy character, or you might have heard his Shitty Trivia on Triple J radio. This is more fast paced and his rapid one liners are framed as questions with answers that the audience can’t possibly guess and his disappointment in the audience’s inability to guess gets more so as it goes along, escalating towards anger as his questions progress from traditional comedy, to weirder absurdity and then rather tasteless and off putting filth. He’s aware of occasionally alienating the audience but comedically blames us for not being on his wave length. My favourite shout to the audience was ‘We’re in a fuckin’ RSL, Relax!’

Sam breaks up the questions with RSL announcements, a pigeon impression, some cute and not so cute pictures and a running conversation with an amiable meat tray called Russell who becomes a side kick of sorts. The obligatory dragging up of someone on stage for cuddles & ritual humiliation was a tad unnecessary and the kid, who enjoyed it at first, was left on stage for way too long, to the point that he got a bit bored. I felt a good ten minutes could have been trimmed from this show (though I feel like that about a lot of festival shows I see), though Sam conveyed grumpily that there had been a stuff up with the otherwise impressive sound cues that may have interfered with the flow or something. It was hard to tell in the audience, because although he did have a running thread about a mysterious shoe, a lot of it is pretty surreal and silly.

The amazing thing about Sam is that his style has never changed, it’s developed and improved, but he’s still the same eccentric comedian I saw over 10 years ago, with his recorded music, supporting cards, strangely amusing cartoons, love of animals, non-sequiturs and jazzy style. The comedy connoisseurs at The Local loved him, but we couldn’t imagine at the time that he would fill huge mainstream local and overseas theatres, the way he does now. Proving that audiences enjoy taking risks more than you might assume and they know a born comedian when they see one.

Sam Simmons is at The Hifi Bar

Triple J’s Good Az Friday

By Jayden Edwards

Now in it’s third year, Triple J rolled into the Melbourne Town Hall with 1200 of their closest friends for the annual “Good Az Friday” Outside broadcast.

Quickly becoming a major highlight of the festival, Triple J’s breakfast young guns Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson beamed 3 hours of stand up comedy, music and shenanigans around the country with help from Triple J buddies Sam Simmons, Dave Callan and Father Bob plus a big line up of stand up spots from the likes of Steven K. Amos, Tom Green, Celia Paquola, Mike Wilmot Paul Foot, Andy Kindler and more!

Young songstress Lisa Mitchell performed a couple of songs including a fantastic cover of M83’s Midnight City (sorry oldies, that’s a hip song the young people are down with) for regular Triple J segment “Like a Version”. The day accumulated with another Triple J tradition, a massive Friday Dance Off, which saw the Melbourne Town Hall jumping to the beats of Skrillex (more young people stuff). All in all a whole lot of fun and a great showcase to get those young folks out and seeing live comedy!

If you weren’t there, or missed it on the radio, you can hear everything i just told you here!

The Show:

Lisa Mitchell’s Like a Version:

Some Pics:

Sam Simmons- About the Weather

By Jayden Edwards

Ok, if you been even the least bit interested in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival over the past 7 or 8 years, you know Sam Simmons is always touted as one of the highlights. With 5 star reviews, a Piece of Wood award and an Edinburgh Best Comedy Show nomination under his belt, there’s no questioning Sam is a powerful comedy force, with a killer moustache to boot.

Sam’s latest theatrical masterpiece About the Weather tells the tale of a man trying to find the courage to talk to his “bus crush”, a task made harder by his fear of small talk. Sam uses this simple premise to drag the audience into his own world of personal struggle, anger, self-loathing, those lucky Chinese waving cat things and impossible IKEA flat pack tables.

Sam’s world is also one in which he is always exploring and questioning his surroundings, like the hidden subtexts in small talk, the stupid information the human brain retains, and the eternal struggle for happiness and purpose.

Powered along by his narrator and audio swiss army knife of tricks and bad 90s music, the audience is bombarded with the experience that is Sam Simmons, full-pelt.

Sam delivers his broad comedy with such whimsy, surrealist energy and expert timing;  his commitment to his art is glorious. Some great prop use and clever lighting also adds depth.

More laughs are extracted from a supporting cast of willing and unwilling audience members, audience members such as myself, who were subjected to a game of “Spin-ception”, which I’m sure would have been hilarious if it wasn’t me! Ok, it was still hilarious and serves me right for sitting in the front row, I guess.

The show is incredibly technical and structured, and it’s a pleasure to watch it all unfold, knowing the amount of commitment and effort that must go into making such a show look so seamless. Sure, there’s a few little tech hiccups, but with so much going on, it’s a minor blip on the radar.

Yes, we can analyse the comedy of Sam Simmons all we want, but to just sit back and take it all in is one of the best experiences you’ll have at the festival. You’ll be back for more year after year.

Sam Simmons- About the Weather in on at Melbourne Town Hall.
For Tickets and more Info, go here