Tom Walker and Bridie Connell – MotherFather

By Elyce Phillips
Tom and Bridie

Tom Walker and Bridie Connell are two of the best-known improvisers in Australia right now, thanks to their roles on the new version of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Connell has proven her talent in the form, being a World Theatresports Finalist. Walker brings a wealth of comedic talent, winning Best Newcomer at last year’s MICF. Together, as MotherFather, they’re a fast-paced improv duo, whipping up quirky characters in outlandish scenarios.

Fans of Whose Line will find themselves surprised by MotherFather. There’s no quick shortform games here, but rather a series of scenes inspired by one word taken from the audience at the start of the show. On the night I attended, my suggestion of ‘caravan’ was taken, and as we were told at the start – if the show goes badly it’s our fault because it’s our word that caused it. Luckily for me, MotherFather’s caravan show was hilarious. What started with a sweet scene about a boy asking a girl to a dance spun out into sketches about detectives and carnivals and singing contests. A recurring scene in which Walker deadpanned a lengthy sales pitch for a Kia Sportage to Connell was an absolute highlight.

Walker and Connell gel together wonderfully as an improv team. They deftly step into each other’s characters mid-scene, as required, and are quickly on-board when one decides to switch into something new. They’re skilled enough that they’re willing to mess with each other occasionally and attempt to crack the other up. It feels like MotherFather sits somewhere between longform and shortform improv. The characters are big and bold and gag-filled, and the scenes are very quick. Walker and Connell will hit a joke and then quit it, and so there’s not as much depth as you might normally see in a longform format. It’s perfect, however, for a late-night show. MotherFather never lets the energy drop and the audience loves every second of it.

MotherFather is some of the most dynamic improv you’ll see this MICF. Walker and Connell are incredibly talented and work together brilliantly. It’s some of the silliest late-night fun you can catch this festival.

MotherFather is on at Melbourne Town Hall Cloak Room until April 22

Tom Walker – Bee Boo

By Elyce Phillips
Tom Walker

Last year’s MICF was a huge success for Tom Walker. In addition to winning the Directors’ Choice award as part of Feeble Minds, he took out Best Newcomer for his show Beep Boop. This year, he returns with the similarly named Bee Boo – an intense hour of clever gags, bizarre games and erotic mime.

Where Beep Boop carefully drew in the audience, massaging them into an acceptance of Walker’s clowning antics, Bee Boo is more aggressive in tone. This is reflected in the ‘walkouts’ tally Walker unfurls early on. Adelaide audiences were tough to win over, by the looks of it, but Melbourne fares okay so far. It’s a show where you have to get on-board quickly. When you do, you’re rewarded with an avalanche of hilarious nonsense that’s offset with just a touch of darkness. There appears to be no method to Walker’s madness. The only thread tying any of the segments together is a recurring bit where Walker writes in his diary, having a frank conversation about how he feels the show is going so far.

The best thing about Walker’s comedy is that it is constantly surprising you. He has a knack for taking the everyday and seeing the silly within it. Boring household items are brought to life in unexpected ways. It’s as though everything has been viewed through the eyes of a child, but one that is equal parts gifted and menacing. An early part of the show in which Walker performs “baby tricks” made me collapse into that kind of laughter that goes on a bit too long and you fear you’ll never recover from it.

Bee Boo isn’t a show for the faint of heart, but it’s a wonderfully hilarious hour of absolutely absurd clowning for anyone who loves their comedy weird. Walker’s act has evolved since last year, and he’s created a beautiful monster. He should win some sort of award for his commitment to sight gags alone.

Bee Boo is on at the Victoria Hotel Acacia Room until April 23

5 Good Reasons to See Aaron Chen The Infinite Faces of Chenny Baby

1) I’m stupid

2) I’m an idiot

3) I’m dumb

4) I’m worthless

5) But I’m still better than Tom Walker (2016 MICF Best Newcomer)

Aaron Chen The Infinite Faces of Chenny Baby is on at The Victoria Hotel


A Year’s Round Up and 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.

It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season.  This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly.  There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.

Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.

Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.

Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am?  There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.

Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.


5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016
Zoe Coombs Marr
1.  Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.

(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)



2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.


Zanzoop pic

3. Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.


4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder) – with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show.Michael Williams 2016 A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!


5. True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus. True Australian Patriots


Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X


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

Tom Walker – Beep Boop

By Colin Flaherty Tom Walker

Beep Boop is a wonderful show of modern clowning. Tom Walker treats us to hilarious scenes of silly mime, inspired impressions and lots of audience participation. If the dreaded P Word has sent you running and screaming from the room, fear not; this is the least intrusive, never aggressive and most enjoyable participation a show could ever have. Beginning as a timid Andy Kaufman-esque creature Tom soon blossoms into a hilarious attention seeking show-off that we can’t help be enthralled by.

Tom builds a fascinating on-stage world; the rules of this place are drip fed to us. What is expected of us increases rapidly as the show progresses but the learning curve is gentle. He pushes our tolerances with his party pieces, taunts us during his charmingly inept magic tricks and boldly challenges us to games. The odds are clearly stacked in his favour and he tries our patience most of the time which is oddly fascinating rather than annoying. Even when the repetition of an action threatens to become tiresome we are all dying to find out where it is leading to and the pay off is regularly impressive. When he leaves a small gap in the rules for us to exploit we see this character for what he truly is; a spoilt brat who always gets his way, portrayed with comically overplayed seething rage.

Tom plays the audience like meat puppets but in such a delightful way that it is impossible not to bend to his will. His coercing of the audience is brilliant using gestures that are clear enough for us to decipher what is required of us but vague enough that we feel a sense of accomplishment in working out this secret language. A reward system of either the delivery of a punchline on a certain trigger or his visible delight in our success makes you wonder whether he has previously had a career in dog training.

In amongst all this crowd manipulation is some downright amazing stagecraft that keeps the audience in hysterics. He manages to make the most mundane concepts into hilarious works of art and expertly plays the fool for our entertainment. Tom has been to Gaulier and from this performance you can tell that he has learnt some impressive tricks.

With a Best Newcomer nomination he is guaranteed to be playing to packed rooms so rush to see this awesome show before it’s too late.

Tom Walker’s Beep Boop is on at The Tuxedo Cat