It’s impossible to get out to see every show at the festival. Especially for the Squirrel writers, as most of us have full time jobs in the real world. In the past when we were The Groggy Squirrel we gave an award for our favourite Australian show but it was always difficult for all of us to see the shows on our shortlist.
This year we’ve decided that each reviewer can list their Five Favourite Shows of the Festival instead. It’s still a really difficult thing to do and some of us have seen more shows than others. We may even see a show that changes our list in the next few days, but this is what we have so far.
Hopefully these insights might help you plan your final few days of the festival.
1 Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
What a way to go. A stunning show about tying up his career, putting his effects in order and stepping out into the future. So Long & Thanks for all the Funny, Hammo.
2. Sam Simmons- About the weather
This was definitely better than last year’s award winning show. It had everything he’s famous for, plus a delicate structure and sweet romance.
3. Daniel Kitson – Where Once There Was Wonder
He makes shows for audiences who like to use their brains though he makes us do it at nearly midnight. A show about self growth and doing & thinking things you never thought would be possible. The reason I’ve not ranked it higher, is that, as much as I adore being in His presence, I felt it could have been edited down a little. (OMG did I criticise Daniel’s gorgeous work? EEK)
4.Felicity Ward – The Hedgehog Dilema
She just seems to get better and better every time I see her and she’s only been doing this for a few years. Seeing her break down on stage talking about her mum this year was achingly lovely. More importantly she’s the kind of comedian that can really make me nearly fall off my chair laughing and that’s happening every time I see her lately.
5.Hannah Gadsby – Hannah Wants a Wife
Hannah used one of my favourite paintings The Portrait of the Arnolfini (& other great art) as the basis for her show about gender throughout history. Great to see her tying her passions together to create an inspiring show. Her stage presence gets more relaxed and playful and better for it.
Runners up: Lessons with Luis, Plus One, Sarah Kendall & Tie her to the Tracks
Shows that I loved that were not Festival shows as such: The Shelf, Somebody To Love – The annual musical benefit for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre at Trades (this year it was the music of Queen) and Puppet Slam at St Ali
1. Dr Brown – Befrdfgth
Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before but so, so funny. The man’s a genius.
2. Simon Amstell – Numb
He’s so clever, so hilarious. I would marry him in a heartbeat if only he liked women. I must find out how he feels about sham marriage …
3. Paul Foot – Still Life
Absurd, silly humour but a very fun show.
4. Slow Clap – Truth
A great production from some very talented Melbournians. Totally original.
5.Hannah Gadsby – Hannah Wants a Wife
A funny but also very interesting show. Hannah is really likeable and has that natural comic timing that makes it all look so easy.
1. Tom Ballard – Doing Stuff
Tom is the future of comedy in this country, and tearing the present to shreds.
2. Dave Thornton – The Some of All the Parts
Stand-up just doesn’t get much better that this. Just straight, witty, accessible stand-up.
3. Sam Simmons- About the weather
Sam just keeps getting better and better. One of the best experiences of the festival, year after year.
4. Tommy Dassalo- Pipsqueak
The little buddy that could! Tommy is quick, witty and so damn likable! Comedy with big soul.
5. Triple J’s Good Az Friday
Quickly becoming a major highlight of the festival! And great value… FREE!
1. Lessons with Luis – Kidney Kingdom
Three daggy, naive characters executed perfectly. It’s a shame that the run was so short.
2. Daniel Kitson – Where Once There Was Wonder
His first stand up show in years was a masterclass in how to hold an audience captiv(at)e(d) for about 2 hours.
3. Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
A brilliant wrap up for all those who have followed Hammo’s Festival oeuvre.
4. Ronny Chieng – The Ron Way
Ronny keeps you laughing all the while he talks down to you. Some serious comedy chops from this guy.
5. The Underlads – Living On Limbo Lane
A high energy show of extreme silliness. Seriously crude, clever and fun.
1. Daniel Kitson – Where Once Was Wonder
Kitson’s stand-up is incredibly thought provoking, and then cleverly undercuts every thought it provokes.
2. Asher Treleaven – Troubadour
Treleaven’s shows just get better every year. I think the main improvement this year was the inclusion of sexy diabolo. All shows could use sexy diabolo.
3. Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris – Plus One
Hilarious, poignant, and the closing musical number was my favourite thing this festival.
4. Sarah Kendall – Persona
Always intelligent, occasionally cringe-inducing, with a bedtime story at the end that is morally ‘grey’ at best.
5. Victoria Healy – Independent Women Part 2
Wonderfully nostalgic, uproariously funny and full of bogan charm.
1. David O’Doherty presents Rory Sheridan’s Tales of the Antarctica
This adorable and hilarious show contains my favourite phrase of the festival: “cat and kitten care” (say it out loud…in an Irish accent)
2. Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
Wrapping up a decade of shows – it’s a hell of a way to say goodbye!
3. Celia Pacquola – Delayed
Hard to believe – but she just keeps getting better each year.
4. Josh Earl is XXX
Awesome tunes and rocking stand up, looking forward to seeing him at XL.
5. Nick Coyle – Me Pregnant
This peculiar and touching story isn’t getting nearly the kind of attention it deserves this festival.
Also recommended: Danny McGinlay Learns Ukrainian; Michael Chamberlin – Joy & Despair; Simon Amstell – Numb; Dr Toby Halligan is Not a Dr