Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards for 2018

This year instead of being presented in the middle of the night at the Festival Club as is traditional, The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were instead presented at 1pm in the afternoon at Belleville. It was more relaxed and civilised with drinks and nibblies (and better lighting for photos) and it was great knowing that everyone in the room was involved and invested in the results, but sort of sad that it was restricted to invite only. I was very lucky to be invited, but other fans on the rim of the festival, but just as invested would have been sad (as I was when this happened once in the past) to not be a part of that middle of the night wild excitement and joy when a favourite, or someone you’ve discovered wins an award.

I can’t deny that there was some surprise as well as delight for Sam Campbell’s win. Although he has been performing in Sydney for a while and getting some TV work (you may have seen him on The Checkout), he’s still pretty much under the radar of the general public. We fell in love with his work when we saw Zanzoop! early in it’s run in 2016 and spent the rest of the Festival telling anyone who would listen that they should go and see the strange talk show hosted by a wise cracking alien in a back alley nightclub. This year we loved both shows he was involved with; his own, The Trough and Anne Edmond’s Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinnaker Lounge where he played Helen’s long suffering, very awkward son Connor.


Hannah Gadsby Presenting The Barry Award from New York

Barry Award, for the best show: Sam Campbell The Trough  

Nominees for The Barry Award:
Alex Edelman (USA)- Just for Us 
Anne Edmonds – as Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinaker Lounge
Tim Key (UK) – Megadate
Lano & Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley) – Fly!
Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Horndog!
Celia Pacquola – All Talk
Natalie Palamides (USA) – Laid


The Best Newcomer: Danielle Walker Bush Rat 

Danielle Walker

This award was presented by Sarah Dodds of Soho Theatre who will be bringing Danielle to London to make her Debut at The Soho Theatre.

Nominees for The Best Newcomer Award:
Paul Williams(NZ) – Summertime Love
Stephanie Tisdell – Identity Steft
Garry Starr – Performs Everything
Lewis Garnham – The Smartest Idiot You’ll Ever Meet
Nadia Collins – Virgin Bloody Mary


The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production): 

Cam Venn

Cam Venn for 
Charles Horse Lays An Egg
The prize is a Bottle of Red Wine and was presented by Lynda Gibson’s Niece Emma Maye Gibson, also known as Betty Grumble

Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Sophie Joske and Anna Piper Scott  – Almost Lesbians
Garry Starr  – Performs Everything 
Julia Rorke & Elysia Hall – Not Another F***** B**** In India
Michelle Brasier & Laura Frew
(Double Denim) – Double Denim Adventure Show]

Lano & Woodley

People’s Choice Award:
Lano & Woodley – Fly!

This award signifies that Fly! sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.


The Directors’ Choice Award:
Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew for Double Denim Adventure Show



The Pinder Prize: Demi Lardner – I Love Skeleton 
This Award funds her trip to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival.



Heath Franklin

Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians):
Heath Franklin – Bogan Jesus 


Funny Tonne Winner: Alasdair Bryant (76 Shows)

Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Leon Filewood (QLD)

RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Bec Melrose (NSW)  
Bec has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?.
RAW Runners-Up: Gavin Sempel (VIC), Emma Holland (ACT)

Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Liam Adam, Carlin Carruth & Kyle Bennett (QLD) as ‘Awkward’!
Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Dusty Diddle (VIC),
Nina Cowley-Mousinho (QLD)
Shiloh Rea (QLD)
Nicholas Doring (NSW)

Cam Venn – Charles Horse Lays an Egg

By Colin Flaherty

Wow! What a glorious mess of a show. Charles Horse Lays An Egg initially has the veneer of a Gaulier-styled clowning show but while it follows some of the tropes, this is a chaotic experience performed by a professional fool with none of the polish and all of the chutzpah.

The latest show from Cam Venn does exactly what it threatens to in its title and blurb but this wafer thin story is not the main attraction. He has a number of gross-out set pieces to titillate the crowd but seeing Venn flail about the stage with a plethora of props and overly complicated costumes is what really has the audience in hysterics. Phallic imagery is a motif in this piece and Venn is constantly in various states of undress, so it’s obvious that this show is not one to bring your prudish friend along.

The stage is filled with numerous inventive props that have clearly had hours of work put into them but they are regularly used only for throwaway visual jokes. Similarly his overly elaborate costume changes are for characters with less than five seconds of stage time. Seeing him constantly struggle with his outfit for minutes at a time is regularly hilarious and when things fail it gets even funnier.

It wouldn’t be a physical comedy show without audience participation and this contains some fun but often pointless examples. Punters not only offer assistance to Venn getting in and out of his gear but assume minor and ultimately inconsequential roles in the story. They are regularly handed complicated props that Venn attempts to instruct them in its use with little to no words. Sometimes they get the gist and the sight gag works but just as often it is held by a confused person. The sing-a-longs and performing group actions are silly fun even when he is adding his own lyrics on top and you’re singing the original ones.

Ridiculous chaos is the order of the day in a Cam Venn show. If you can cope with a sweaty hairy man getting up close and personal this is a performance that will be scarred upon your brain for some time.

Charles Horse Lays an Egg is on at the Butterfly Club until April 15

5 good reasons to see Charles Horse lays an Egg by Cam Venn

1.       It’s stupidly fun physical theatre performed with love by a professional fool.

2.       There’s a bit where I sing a Bowie song in a giant inflatable penis suit.

3.       A man lays an egg. Literally.

4.       It’s an epic celebration of space movies and scifi and giant chickens and life.

5.       You’ve probably never seen anything like it.

Cam Venn performs Charles Horse lays an Egg at The Butterfly Club Apr 9-15