5 reasons to see A Sunburnt History: Citizenship

1. You think history is a little bit sexy (or could be sexier)

2. We don’t swear…believe it or not, you can be funny without 4 letter words.

3. If you like clean comedy a bit dirty round the edges.

4. You’re not afraid to see a bit of man flesh, don’t act like you’re not curious.

5. You can appreciate a finely crafted butt metaphor.

A Sunburnt History: Citizenship is on at Trades Hall in the Music Room  26/3 to 6/4


5 Good Reasons to see Lessons with Luis – By Myself

Please find below Luis’ 5 Good Reasons.


1. It’s my first-ever solo show, by myself.

2. Dad says it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and mum would be very proud.

3. I have new sneakers so I look like Jerry Seinfeld, like a real stand-up comedian.

4. It’s in a venue named after a cat and cats are pretty cool.

5. Luelin will be there too.

Lessons with Luis – By Myself will be on from April 10 at Tuxedo Cat

5 Good Reasons to see Aunty Donna’s World’s Greatest Showbag

1. “I am not young enough to know everything” – Oscar Wilde

This is a beautiful and important quote that reflects the wisdom that comes with age.


2. “Now, I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” – Bhagavad-Gita
Originally from Hindu scripture, these words were made famous by J. Robert Oppenheimer as a haunting and disturbing contemplation of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.


3. “Love thy Neighbor” – Mark 12:31, ATTR: Jesus of Nazareth

Arguably not historical, the cultural influence of the great Judeo-Christian sacred texts has left the biggest footprint on Western Society.


4. “There is no I in TEAM.” –Author Unknown
Both metaphorically and grammatically accurate, it is unknown which wise philosopher first uttered these words.


5. “Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils… “ – Plato

Whilst it may be reductive to say such a quote is ‘still relevant today’ – the core values of this text hold a particular pertinence in this digital age. One needs only look at the outlook and policy of certain superpowers to see that the spirit of this quote holds an almost striking significance.

Aunty Donna’s World’s Greatest Showbag is on at Trades Hall


Interview with Geraldine Quinn

By Noel Kelso

Geraldine Quinn has been a regular face on the comedy scene in Australia and the UK since 2005. Combining music, comedy and acting into her sell-out shows she presents an imposing figure on-stage in outfits as outlandish as some of the songs she sings. Last year she was busy with three productions – ’80s Apocalyptic sing-along Sunglasses at Night; Bowie-esque musical Stranger (a personal favourite) and touring her show You’re The Voice in Australia and New Zealand.
She has twice won the Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, most recently in 2013 for her new show MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt , a reflection on life without marriage or kids at 30+ which debuts at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2014.
I asked the self-described ‘ginger idiot’ a few questions about MDMA and more during a gap in her busy schedule.

Noel: Have you always been attracted to performance?

Geraldine: At early primary school, I would devise plays and ask teachers permission to ‘tour’ them from class to class, so…yes. I am sure I was a thoroughly annoying child, but it was my outlet for being incredibly shy. I barely spoke to anyone otherwise.

Noel: What inspired you to first get started in comedy / musical comedy, and why not be a straight musician?

Geraldine: When I was 18 or so, I couldn’t play any instrument well enough to accompany myself, and I didn’t know enough musicians to start a band, and I wasn’t really writing songs. And unless you could do pub circuits, etc. or someone wanted to push you there weren’t really any options. So I went into acting, auditioned for the occasional covers band (and failed to get in) or musical in Dingley, then sort of let it slide. Cabaret was an outlet when I discovered after three years of acting training that there was even less work for thespians.

Noel: Which comedians – past or present – do you admire?

Geraldine: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Morecambe & Wise, Lucille Ball, Joyce Grenfell, Terry-Thomas, Carol Burnett, Lynda Gibson, Marg Downey, Eleanor Bron, Rod Quantock, Dave Allen, Jo Brand, French & Saunders, Fry & Laurie, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, Olivia Colman, Sean Lock, Johnny Vegas, Sarah Millican, Armando Ianucci, Chris Morris…not to mention people I know like Anne Edmonda, Kate McCartney & Kate McLennan, Geraldine Hickey, Flick Ward, Celia Pacquola and Lori Bell. There are loads – Denise Scott is an anecdote machine. And Cal Wilson has more energy than all of us. And that’s not to mention the cabaret people.

Noel: Anyone who knows you will know how much you love David Bowie how does he inspire your work?

Geraldine: Bowie is a very clever magpie – he knows how to steal smart, how to search for ideas and sounds and break up traditional formulas for writing to try to get to a fresh idea, a lot of which I think was influenced by the luminary glam-nymph that is Brian Eno. So when I get stuck, I run for my Oblique Strategy cards or put a Berlin album on, because I don’t see much point in producing work that is neither honest nor innovative. One or the other should be true, if not both.

Noel: Who are your other musical heroes?

Geraldine: This list threatens to be as long as the comedians one – Neil Hannon, Andy Partridge and Elvis Costello are all bit songwriting influences. Same for Kate Bush, Kirsty MacColl and Bernard Butler/Brett Anderson, Leon Russell, Mick Ronson, Willie Nelson, Nick Lowe, Thin Lizzy, Toto, Clare Bowditch, Patti LaBelle, Roxy Music, the Finns, Elliott Smith, Divinyls, The Kinks, Vanda & Young, Levi Stubbs, Dusty Springfield, Heart, Hall & Oates, Janelle Monae, Lightspeed Champion, Loudon Wainwright III, Jarvis Cocker, Mina, Peter Gabriel, Vince Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, 10CC…I have a lot of space sucked up by music.

Noel: Which do you find comes first in terms of writing – the music or the comedy? Or do you find they both appear simultaneously?

Geraldine: I think most people who do their job interestingly have a sense of humour. Though it is nice sometimes just to write a song without trying to rhyme a gag in it, I find when I am left to my own devices to write a serious song, I get a bit too Neil Finn and bitsy with my imagery, so I try to follow the Paul Kelly/Neil Hannon/Kirsty MacColl influence and write stories.

Noel: Your shows appear to draw on real life experiences for inspiration. Songs such as ‘Fang It’ and ‘Festival’ are clearly drawn from personal experience. Do you find yourself consciously using real world events as inspiration for your writing?

Geraldine: How can you not? The hard thing is changing some truths a bit to save feelings…or get a better laugh by exaggerating it.

Noel: You were nominated this year for a Green Room award in Cabaret for your show ‘Sunglasses At Night: The 80s Apocalypse Sing Along Cabaret”. Is recognition by your peers important to you as an artiste?

Geraldine: Of course (and you don’t need to put the ‘e’ on the end, I’m not posh!). If you can’t pay your rent and you wonder about your worth every day, it means even more that people who you admire like and respect what you do. It’s what gets you through the day sometimes.

Noel: Your costumes appear to be an integral part of your shows. Do you have an image of what you’d like them to be as you write or is it more of an organic process as you rehearse?

Geraldine: Pretty organic, I tend to have ideas of what I don’t want, and then a stack of broad ideas. I do a lot of Google searches of eras or acts or designers, and then say “let’s make something that mashes up all of these, adds a bit of Bowie, then make it 70% more bonkers”. The people I’ve worked with don’t get given a drawing to create, we sort of work out and brainstorm, and then bear in mind my level of activity, my vanity and whether or not I have to play a guitar!

Noel: Do you make them yourself?

Geraldine: I WISH!! I’ve worked with Tristan Seebohm and Sam Bolton so far, and I am always on the hunt for interesting stitchers. Lately I have got some leads through burlesque circles as well, which is exciting to me.

Noel: What can you tell us about your latest show ‘MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt’?

Geraldine: I’m almost 40 with no kids or spouse, unlike everyone else in my family, and I wondered why having kids was such a focus for everyone else when it wasn’t for me. And as they got older, I wondered what sort of a terrible role model I was becoming to my nieces and nephews. The eldest is about 22 years old.

Noel: How long did it take you to write? And was there a specific process or daily routine for you whilst it was being written?

Geraldine: Who says it’s written yet – I mean, yes,the ideas ping around for months, then I try to cement a structure then the crying and screaming writing process begins and things shift around. Then repeat in microcosm for each song.

Noel: In the past, society tended to pity women who remain single while those around them married. Is this new show intended as a commentary on this outdated attitude?

Geraldine: In a way. I don’t see why a breeding status should have anything to do with a person’s sense of self. That goes for people who make presumptions about parents, as well. Just because they have kids doesn’t mean they are all alike. I suspect if I ever ended up in a mother’s group a) I probably would have got lost and b) I’d struggle not to throw up in contempt on everyone. There’s only so much chat about nappies and schools one can take, and I imagine that’s the same for parents.

Noel: Are you constantly planning for the next project?

Geraldine: For the next festival or grant pitch, yes. But I’ve already done three different shows in 2014 (Sunglasses in Melbourne and Perth, Stranger  in New Zealand and now MDMA  in MICF) and it’s only March, so I might need a rest first…

Geraldine’s MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt  is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 – April 20 in the Melbourne Town Hall – Lunch Room

Details on the website http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mdma-modern-day-maiden-aunt-geraldine-quinn

Interview with Tegan Higginbottham

By Alanta Colley

Tegan Higginbotham is a fresh-faced force for good with a firm foot in the Melbourne Comedy Scene. Humblingly  younger than most of her contemporaries; Tegan has for the past few years been prolifically producing fast paced sketch in outfit  Watson,  The Anarchist Guild Social Committee, regularly appearing on The Shelf,  as well producing regular commentary in her column in the Age on sport.

Tegan is back and better than ever this Comedy Festival with the release of her new solo show ‘Game Changer’. Game Changer forms a trilogy of Sports themed shows for Tegan,  following her very successful ‘Touched by Fev’ (dedicated to AFL star Brendan Fevola) and previously with the acclaimed ‘Million Dollar Tegan’; which explored Tegan’s personal foray into the bizarre world of boxing. ‘Game Changer’ explores social attitudes towards pole dancing and lingerie football, and asks the question: just who sets the standards when it comes to what defines a ‘real sport’ anyway?

Tegan took a quick few minutes out of her Comedy Festival prep to talk to me!

Your love of sport has been a central theme of your last two comedy shows, with Touched by Fev and Million Dollar Tegan. Can you tell me about how your love of sport and comedy came together?

I didn’t mean for it to happen. It wasn’t a conscious thought – when I took up boxing the experience was so ridiculous comedy was a way of sharing what happened. But as a massive film buff I love a good trilogy. Star Wars is the main reason this ended up being a trilogy!

Pole Dancing is a bit of a break from boxing and footy. What attracted you to Pole Dancing as a theme?

I came across a really heated and negative response to the idea of pole dancing becoming an Olympic sport. As I engaged in the argument I realised I didn’t know anything about pole dancing, so I wanted to find out more about it. I started doing a lot of research about pole dancing online. You have to be really careful what search terms you use when you’re researching pole dancing! But it was fascinating.

I found out that there was a massive movement of people who accept pole dancing as a sport. I ended up trying it out. I found it incredibly hard. Women who do it are so strong. There’s a lot of  muscles  and skills that they need to develop that are different from any other sport.

It was similar to the lingerie league – when it came to town all that anyone noticed was what they were wearing. It took a while for people to realise that they were extremely strong and fit athletes.

What sort of response do you get from people as a woman in comedy, talking about sport?

It took a lot of convincing people that I was telling the truth about my love of sport. They thought of it as a gimmick or didn’t believe I knew much about it. Having a regular column in the Age has helped a lot to help people take it seriously. The more I perform the more people are getting on board with it. I want to be seen first and foremost as a comic.

Who should come and see this show?

This show should be perfect for everybody. It’s great for people who love sport, but I’m also a massive nerd so there’s no way I’ll be able to keep that hidden. I’ve also challenged myself to talk more about myself in this show; so there’s a bit more story telling about my life in it than there’s been before.

What do you hope your audience takes away from your show?

Hmmmm. I’d hope they’d take away the willingness to think about sports like pole dancing a little more before reacting so strongly to them.  And I hope they have a really good laugh.

Many of us are super sad not to see Watson this comedy festival.  Will Watson rise again?

Absolutely. Adam and I love working together. It was really hard but we made the decision that doing a show at Comedy Festival show this year wasn’t going to work with our schedules.  But our ideas keep getting bigger and bigger. You’ll see Watson put on something pretty special at Melbourne Fringe this year.

You recently reappeared with the Anarchist Guild Collective Social Committee, which performed to a  sold out room. What for you is the biggest difference between performing sketch and stand up?

Sketch for me is more like play and stand up, while rewarding, is a lot more work. I love stand up and how challenging it is.  Though stand up is a little bit lonelier after the show. I really like having the chance to do both.

I hear that you’ve got upcoming television role, This is Littleton  can you tell me a bit about that?

This is Littleton goes to air this February! It’s a really fun sketch show. The story is set around a Town Hall Community Centre.  I perform various roles  throughout the show. The comics performing all write their own material; many of the characters are based on characters they’ve taken from their own work, so it’s a really interesting collaboration. The show is lots of fun. 

What are you looking forward to the most this Melbourne comedy festival?

The first show.  There’s nothing like the feeling after your first show for the run.  You have so much doubt and you put in so much preparation and you don’t know how its going to turn out. The feeling of relief after the first performance is over is just amazing.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing?

I always love seeing Celia Pacquola. And because I love sketch I love seeing Girls Uninterrupted, and Lords of Luxury and Aunty Donna. There’s a lot of great sketch this festival.  

Thanks Tegan!


You can catch Tegan’s New show ‘Game Changer’ at the Gold Room at the Portland Hotel from the 28th of March to the 21st of  April (no shows Mondays)

Tickets: $24 Full, $22 Concession, Tight-arse Tuesdays $20

Times: 7:15pm (6:15pm Sundays)



Her Website: www.teganhigginbotham.com

I ♥ Melbourne International Comedy Festival Launch

By Lisa Clark

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was launched the day before Valentine’s Day, so organisers decided to add a romantic theme to the launch with pink fairy floss, cupcakes, red balloons and a bit of speed dating. In front of the stage were fourteen tiny tables with two chairs each. I was one of the press invited/dragged to sit alone at the tables, while host Joel Creasey, with the aid of DJ of Love Andy McLelland, introduced us to our comedian partners. I started with Lehmo who told me about his show LEHMOOOO!!!(get involved), some of it is going to be about doing comedy for the Troops. My other dates were Kate McLelland in her gorgeous duck costume hand made by a very pregnant Claire Hooper, Lawrence Mooney and Miss Itchy. There were cards on the table with question topics like “What are you reading at the moment” but they were not necessary. With Comedians you just ask them to tell you about their show and let them go. Talking is their life.

The Launch was really to celebrate the Festival’s website going live and to give us a taste of the goodies in store. The speed dating was a great way to learn more. Kate’s show The Duck’s Nuts is a bit about not fitting into societies expectations of how you live your life. Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar celebrates the comedian’s stock in trade – lying. Miss Itchy’s Late Night Larvae sounds like an extension of their inaugural Barry Award Winning The Crème the Menthe Breakfast Show with old friends Alphonso the Room Temperature Pony and the dashing Tim Harris.

Miss Itchy are not the only act returning after a long absence,  Matt KIng (of Peep Show, Spirited and most recently the IT Crowd 2013 Xmas special) , who will always be considered partly Australian will be back as part of The Edinburgh Festa Besta. There’s Tim Vine with his own chat show, Blast from the past Arty Putz in his show Very Weird and Slightly Dangerous. The gorgeous Julian Clary who was probably the first person I saw doing a TV game show where there was no significant prize, will be putting audience members through their paces to find a new mate in Position Vacant: Apply Within and the Fabulous Adam Richard is doing Gayapocalypse his first solo show in seven years. Other Aussies we haven’t seen in solo shows for a while include Nelly Thomas (Pleasantly Furious) and Ben McKenzie (Ben McKenzie is Uncool).

There are always so many fascinating ideas being explored by comedians in so many different ways it puts a lot of modern straight theatre to shame. And it’s Funny! One of the themes being explored in several ways is war. Both Lehmo and Justin Hamilton in his show Johnny Loves Mary 1994 will be talking about performing to troops. Damian Callinan’s show is called The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan and Michael Workman’s show is simply called War. Then there is The Wrestling. Comedian’s pitted against professional wrestlers in the ring.

Time to start making those festival plans and for all you Luddites the hard copy of the Festival Program will be in the newspaper on March 1st.

The printed program can be posted on request to people who live outside of Melbourne. Email info@comedyfestival.com.au with your details to request a program.