Welcome to Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2023

It’s that Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Comedy Christmas!! Melbourne is chockers full of comedians and comedy fans all excited about the three weeks to come.

It’s hard to recommend shows, as everyone’s taste will vary, but I assure you that the Festival will have something to make YOU laugh, there are over 600 shows to choose from! You just have to find Your thing and that is part of what we Squirrels are about, helping you have a great night out. Our reviews can give you an idea if a show might be for you. Sometimes I can even read a negative review and think, no actually, that one might just be my cup of tea. That’s why it can also be great to take a punt on something new if it piques your interest.

I can definitely see a mini trend of musical comedy being back So I thought I might focus on this genre of comedy and list some acts that I can honestly recommend to you as astonishingly talented and funny performers. They have to be brilliant musicians, singers AND Comedians to really pull off Musical Comedy well and they can come at it from different perspectives be they political, geeky, storytelling, raunchy or just plain silly.

Recommended Musical Comedy Shows at MICF 2023

I’ll start with the well known superstars of Musical Comedy: Tripod, Sammy J – Good Hustle, Geraldine Quinn – Broad, Gillian Cosgriff – Actually, Good, Die Roten Punkte – Otto & Astrid’s Joint Solo Project (directed by Neill Gladwin and Dramaturg Casey Bennetto), Andrew Hansen –Is Cheap [The one from The Chaser who sang the songs]. (Do Lano & Woodley count as musical comedians? I have a CD of their songs….so maybe.) You just cannot go wrong choosing to see any of these amazing accomplished performers.

Newer local upcoming stars that everyone was talking about at last year’s festival include Reuben Kaye – doing 2 shows this year; Live and Intimidating and The Kay Hole, Michelle Brasier – Legacy, Gabbi Bolt – Odd Sock and Jude Perl (with Nina Oyama) We should Hang Out –[ it is Sold Out right now, hoping for an extra show]

There are also Cabaret Showcases such as Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, Josh Earl’s 100%Hits and of course Haus Party at The Festival Club where the cream of the musical comedians (and other comedy stylings) will be turning up for spots.

Overseas musical comedians who may be new to you are visiting our shores in Festival season, here are some who are really worth checking out: UK’s Huge Davies [he’s dry and super cool, and part of New Order], Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird? [Ed Fringe Nominee pipped out of the top prize by our own Sam Campell] and Laurie Black – Dystopiano [doing feminist post punk synth comedy], I’ve seen them all, they’re great.

New Zealand’s Two Hearts We’re Pregnant and The Baby is Music, I think I’ve enjoyed them at a Festival Club….

Then there is Ned Kelly The Big Gay Musical by Kaine which is the only one I’m recommending that I’ve seen this before, but it looks like it might be jolly fun.

Other comedy at MICF.

Older school comedians coming to the Festival who you may not have seen do a show in a few years include Ed Byrne, Dylan Moran, Kyle Kinane, and our own Paul McDermott, Tony Martin, Bev Killick, Brad Oaks & even Akmal is back.

Political Comedy is popular too with Tom Ballard doing 2 shows, A Rational Fear doing 1 big show and Sammy J doing it via character comedy. Melissa MGlansey’s The Briefing (About maddening US politics – which is awesome, check it out). Osher Gunsberg Night Time News Network National News, is a curiosity we’re all wondering about, will it be political comedy? Or just a news lampoon, anyway it involves impro. Ben Russell, Greg Larsen & Friends are laying their politics out there with Election Results (Not Satire), they couldn’t be clearer, could they?

In Other News

European Bier Cafe has been renovated, re-named and is now called Morris House.
Some shows are already sold out or selling fast, new shows have been added for Sam Campbell, Tony Martin and Maisie Adams.
Cancelled shows are listed at the top of the list of shows on the MICF website.

If you know of shows cancelling or selling out, feel free to let us know on the socials or by email.

5 Good Reasons to see Andrew Hansen in Solo Show

1: I’m the actual, real, proper star of The Chaser’s TV shows. I know, it’s easy to get us lot confused, but basically Chris is the posh one, Chas is the Italian one, Julian’s the bald one, Craig’s the woke one, and I’m Andrew – I’m the talented one. I am the only member of the group who’s even capable of doing a live music comedy show, so there’s no other option.

2: My show features golden oldies from The Chaser TV songbook, performed live in your face. I’m including a specially updated version of ‘The Eulogy Song’ to pay tribute to all the famous pricks who’ve died since the original.

3: I rarely tour solo. So rarely, in fact, I’ve never toured solo.

4: Unlike some Chaser-branded live shows of recent years, my ‘Solo Show’ even has someone from The Chaser in it.

5: I’ve already polished the show up during a season at Adelaide Fringe, and by the end of the run many audience members required counselling to cope with how much they enjoyed it. I’ve even been forced to add a ‘trigger warning’ to my show because it can trigger feelings of overwhelming good cheer and appreciation.

6: My show is the only one in Squirrel Comedy’s ‘Five Reasons’ series that demands six reasons to see it.

Solo Show is on at Trades Hall from March 26 to April 5

Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen – In Conversation With Lionel Corn

By Elyce Phillips Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen

When you walk into the Forum Theatre for In Conversation With Lionel Corn, you could easily be walking into any Wheeler Centre event of the year. Tonight’s guest is Lionel Corn (Andrew Hansen) in discussion with a Radio National host (Chris Taylor).

Taylor does a great job of playing the poncy interviewer. Hansen’s author is bizarre, but consistently so – it’s a nice contrast to Taylor’s straight-laced performance. After some wonderfully silly introductions, we get to the conversation at hand. The opening salvo is perfectly long-winded and wanky. A collection of pre-recorded questions from the audience were a beautiful touch. Some were so subtle that they could have passed for genuine festival questions, clichéd to the point of self-parody.

However, despite a strong start, In Conversation… loses its charm as the show wears on, largely because the show loses focus. The faux event we’re attending is an amalgamation of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and an episode of Q and A. Lionel Corn himself is part Salman Rushdie, part George RR Martin, part Billy Connolly’s accent. The whole thing is too nebulous to provide any really biting satire. It feels like Taylor and Hansen have tried to cram too much into their characters, and they lose their shape. Tension between Corn and his interviewer that is introduced at the start doesn’t really go anywhere and you don’t get a sense that their relationship develops over the hour.

The jokes strayed into easy stereotypes – fantasy readers are fat, activists whinge about panel diversity. A puerile bit of physical comedy towards the end ran too long and felt disconnected with the tone of the rest of the show. Perhaps this was an attempt to broaden the appeal of the show beyond an audience of lit geeks and #qanda twitter fiends, but it was out of place next to the subtler material.

In Conversation With Lionel Corn is entertaining, but it never quite reaches the heights you hope for. As a long-time fan of the Chaser guys and a big old book nerd, this show should have been right up my alley.