By Elice Phillips
Political Asylum is a monthly line-up of great local political comedians. During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival they take up residence in Town Hall for one night only in their annual Late Night Riot.
The late night show played to a packed auditorium and it wasn’t hard to see why. Every single performer on the line-up was fantastic. Political Asylum regulars Aamer Rahman, Stella Young, Toby Halligan, Scott Abbot and John Brooks were all hilarious, covering topics from Abbott and Gillard to compulsory horse-riding classes for the disabled. Mathew Kenneally was an absolute standout among the regular crew. He’s quick-witted, his material is incredibly strong and he did a great job of hosting the show.
Nelly Thomas and Damien Callinan were special guests for the evening. Thomas amused with tales of remaining diplomatic while hosting talkback on Radio National. Callinan brought a touch of theatre to the proceedings, performing a meeting of the Horsham branch of Amnesty International. His characters were spot-on and painfully funny – his portrayal of a truly woeful ‘green poet’ was my highlight of the night.
The extra special surprise guest for the evening was the wonderful Rich Hall. His material wasn’t quite as politically-minded, but the audience absolutely loved him, cheering for him to stay on after his red ‘get off the stage’ light came on. Hall’s droll observations of Australia had people in stitches. His comparison of our coalition government to the store that does shoe repair and key cutting was particularly funny for its strange accuracy.
If Late Night Riot is any indication of the quality of the regular show in Brunswick, it deserves a packed house every month. These guys are serving up some of the most on-point and entertaining political humor around.
The Run for the festival is over but Political Asylum is on at the Brunswick Green the second Sunday of every month.
By Lisa Clark
Aaaaaaand we’re off! The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was officially launched today at The Famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre with deliciously dry host Hannah Gadsby being appropriately disrespectful toward the ‘VIP’s and cheeky to the officiating Lord Mayor. Most comedians are interstate or overseas, with the Adelaide Fringe Festival in full swing, but spotted in the audience were Lawrence Leung (Part-Tme Detective Agency), Aamer Rahman (The Truth Hurts), Brian Nankervis (Rockwiz), Andrew Goodone (voice of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala), Janet A McLeod(Cinema Fiasco), Jessie Ngaio (Slutmonster & Friends), Hayman Kent (The Comedy Zone).
Over champagne and lamingtons we were given a taste of some of this year’s talent and the official speeches. Bite sized performances to whet our appetites for the Festival were served up by Moosehead Awarded Kate McLennan & Wes Snelling in Double Standard which will be performed in a hotel room at The Blackman (Justin Bieber stayed there apparently) as well from Windmill Theatre who dazzled us with some nerdy choreographed energetic bike riding from their show School Dance.
From Festival Director Susan Provan we learned that this year there are over a (record breaking) thousand participants in RAW comedy, Matt Okine will be this year’s host for the National Grand Final and that for the first time one of the finalists will be drawn from India. She also spoke about a new movement of comedians who are proving themselves on YouTube and have well selling shows at this year’s MICF despite not having tread the boards in comedy clubs. The Festival crew are particularly proud that this year’s program features an entire page of Daves. (p49, though in one case it’s not the name of the comedian)
We were all given the first programs to study, and they’ll be out for the general public with sponsors The Herald Sun on Saturday 23rd of February. We’ve previously reviewed some of the shows on offer and will be doing a story about that soon. We’re also currently publishing lots of “5 Good Reasons to see” MICF shows to give you more information in helping to organise your Festival calendar. We’ll be bringing more interviews, news and reviews as they come in. So stay tuned to Squirrel Comedy for all your Melbourne International Comedy Festival information.