The 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards

This afternoon the Melbourne International Comedy Festival announced the 2021 Award winners at the Toff In Town, with host Adam Hills. Adam mentioned how incredibly strong the majority of the shows at this year’s festival were and he was right. The duds were rare and everything that was good was Absolutely brilliant! It must have been very difficult for the judges this year.
We could not be happier to announce the winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award 2021 for the Most Outstanding Show is Geraldine Hickey! Hickey said in her thank you speech: “I’d kind of like to dedicate this award to anyone who’s in the middle of their career and at the tipping point of, Is this working? Should I keep going? No one notices me. Well keep going ’cause fuck I did and look at me now!” To big cheers.
Now, when is she getting to host a TV show / her own Netflix special? Soon I hope. She has been selling out live shows for years now.

Most Outstanding Show: Geraldine Hickey What a Surprise!
Nominees:
Aaron Chen – Sorry Forever
David Quirk – Astonishing Obscurity
Ivan Aristeguieta – Piñata
Luke Heggie – Lowbreed
Michelle Brasier – Average Bear
Nikki Britton – One Small Step
Reuben Kaye – The Butch is Back

Best Newcomer Award: Charlie Zangel – Cockatiel 
You may know Charlie Zangel who has been performing for years as Charity Werk
Nominees:
Anna Piper Scott – Queer & Present Danger
Chris Ryan – Big Hair, Big Dreams
Scout Boxall – Good Egg

The Golden Gibbo: Nat Harris & Hannah Camilleri! – Pet-Nat + Han ah  Chocolat.
An award given for creativity and bravery.
Nominees:
Claire Sullivan – Toast Rat
Woah, Alyssa! – Woah, Alyssa! 3
Ben Knight – Teacher
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall and Andy Matthews! – Teleport

Directors’ Choice Award: Melanie Bracewell – The Rumours Are True 
A New Zealander you may know from her regular appearances on Have You Been Paying Attention, she accepted this in her netball uniform.

The People’s Choice Award: Daniel Sloss
This award is for most tickets sold across the 2021 Festival and UK comedian Sloss was very closely followed by Tommy Little.

The Piece of Wood: Greg Larsen – This Might Not Be Hell.
This award is chosen by other comedians in the festival for one of their own.

Funny Tonne: Winner Ben Carruthers
As I publish He’s seen 79 shows, and written 52 reviews, he said the emphasis was put on review quality this year.
The funny Tonners didn’t start their run until after the Festival had begun and were somewhat outshined by comedian Blake Everett, who is up in the 90s and has given nearly every one of them a quick positive review on twitter. And he is performing in his own acclaimed festival show Blake and Oliver Dig Their Own Graves and also did tech for award nominated Toast Rat.

RAW Comedy winner: Prue Blake (VIC)! Runner-up Patrick Golamco (NSW) and Specials Mentions to Dhruv Iyer (WA) and Jayde O’Brien (QLD)

Class Clowns National Champ: Dhruv Rhao (who was the youngest nominee) Runners-up: Jai Uhlmann and Sophia Marosszeky

The Deadly Funny Award: TBA

Geraldine Hickey : What a Surprise

By Erin Hill

It comes as absolutely no surprise that Geraldine Hickey is a very funny comedian. Astute observations delivered in Hickey’s gently wry tone kept the audience chuckling for the hour. But what did come as a very welcome surprise was how genuine and heart-warming What a Surprise was.

Hickey opens the show with the necessary 2020 disclaimer, acknowledging that the show was written B.C. (Before COVID). The show largely centres on Hickey’s experience of turning forty, and navigating the “surprise” birthday party she forced her partner to throw. Hickey’s recollections of previous years of hastily-thrown-together last-minute parties, fielding text message after text message of apologies and well-wishes struck a particular nerve; eliciting a guttural laugh of recognition.
It brought about an odd sense of nostalgia to recall all the social faux pas that come with birthdays you can spend around other people; like how do you mention it without coming across like a five-year-old, and how do you manage your expectations when it comes to the calibre of “surprise” event? Hickey’s observation that even at the age of forty, your idea of the highest level of excellence and prestige can still be ‘the presence of a bouncy castle’ was truly inspiring.

What a Surprise also speaks to what it means to be in a relationship and the things we do to please, delight and surprise the people we care about. Hickey’s tale of her determination to acquire a ring from the elusive “hairy finger man of Instagram’ is worth the price of admission alone. Brief glimpses into inside jokes between Hickey and her now fiancé, snapshots over years of a relationship highlight the trust Hickey places in her audience. In kind, that trust speaks to Hickey’s prowess; a seasoned performer who has faith in her own ability to get the audience on side.

What a Surprise was a joy to behold. Hickey makes sharp observations with finesse and apparent ease. The stories she shared remind us of a time when a thrill-seeking activity meant zip-lining and not drawing blood in Woolies over a packet of Kleenex Cottonelle. But the unexpected feeling walking out of the show is the overwhelming sense of warmth and sweetness Hickey manages to impart in just one hour. What a Surprise is a pleasant surprise in that.

What a Surprise at The Supper Room in Melbourne Town Hall until April 18

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/geraldine-hickey

Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well

By Lisa Clark 

A lot of great comedy, and art, comes from anger, heartache and loss. So what does a comedian do when her life is suddenly coming up roses and massive engagement rings? Geraldine Hickey proves that she is a brilliant comedian and takes the audience on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride.

There is a very gentle build up to this show, a left turn at Albuquerque and a fabulous finale that sends the audience out in a high. Geraldine has had a lot of rough times in the past and there is a joy underlying this show because, generally, Things ARE going Well for her and she has a lot of stories to tell. Tales of Christmases with her new welcoming in-laws, being able to afford to visit the great theme parks in California, including Disneyland, performing at cool music festivals and visiting wildlife parks. Her levels of enjoyment of bird shows at wildlife parks is a highlight. The hilarious description of a lame bird show is where I lost it and am still giggling about it the next day.

Geraldine is a relaxed and friendly performer who brings with her quite a large fanbase, she’s built over the years, even before she started working on the Breakfasters on 3RRR. I’ve always found her to be a pretty sure bet in a festival and this show is stunning. She has smartly provided her show with a solid structure of viewing her life as half glass full, then half glass empty with a priceless finale that almost flies by too quickly and has the audience in fits. This is clearly a brilliantly written and beautifully polished performance.

I tried but couldn’t get into this sold out show during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival earlier this year. If you get a chance to see Geraldine Hickey performing Things Are Going Well (or any future show), don’t miss it.

Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well has sadly finished it’s run

https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/geraldine-hickey-things-are-going-well/

2019 Melbourne International Comedy Award Winners

 

2019 AWARD WINNERS

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award for the best show: James Acaster (UK) Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999

Nominees:
Anne Edmonds- What’s Wrong With You? 
Cassie Workman – Giantess
Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well
Nath Valvo – I’m Happy For You
Tom Allen (UK) – Absolutely 

Blake Freeman

The Best Newcomer: Blake Freeman – There’s Something There 

Nominees:
Dan Rath – Bubble Bath
Nina Oyama – Needs a Lift
Oliver Coleman – Poolside

Joshua Ladgrove

The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production): Neal Portenza & Joshua Ladgrove –Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove

Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Game Boys – Game Boys Cinematic Universe
Lauren Bok – Rock Out With Your Bok Out 
Margot Tanjutco – Vanity Fair Enough

Urzila Carlson

Oliver Coleman – Poolside
Patrick Collins – Mime Consultant / Patrick Collins And the Magic Shoe

People’s Choice Award: Urzila Carlson Loser 

This award signifies that Urzila Carlson sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.

Aaron Chen

The Directors’ Choice Award: Aaron Chen – Piss Off (Just Kidding) 

Presented by Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director Susan Provan

The Pinder Prize: Sam Taunton – Straight From The Shoulder & Steph Tisdell – The Pyramid

This Award funds their trips to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival. It was presented by Demi Lardner

Geraldine Hickey

Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians):  Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well

Presented by Greg Fleet who created the Award and Heath Franklin last year’s winner.

Funny Tonne Winner: John Souness

Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Fabian Woods

Fady Kassab

RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Fady Kassab (NSW)  
Fady has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?.
RAW Runners-Up: Suraj Kolarkar (QLD) and Laura Hutchinson (WA)

Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Patti Fawcett (Bendigo South East College, VIC)
Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Whose My Parents? (Ben Depoma, Cyrus James-Hankin, Soren Pryor) from St Theresa’s Catholic College Abergowrie, QLD, and Nic Doring (Alexandria Park Community High School NSW)

#KWANDA: A Play

By Lisa Clark 

As well as his normal political type stand up show that Tom Ballard is known for, this year Tom has written a satirical play. And it is not at all about The ABC TV show Q&A. No Not At All.

We are the audience in a TV studio on a Monday night, there is an applause sign and some audience members are given questions to ask by a roving man with a mic, so you or someone you know might end up being part of the show. Tom Ballard plays the host Tony Jones, and joining him on the panel are five guests; Michelle Brasier plays millennial, hipster singer Meridith, Ra Chapman is statistician Susan Minh , Geraldine Hickey plays ex extreme right wing party /current independent Leonie, Patrick Livesey the Liberal politician Michael Lawson and Emily Taheny played Labor politician Katie. (I’m not sure who the chap was with the mic – he later pulls out a guitar and supports Michelle Brasier with her hilarious singing. This is one of those group MICF shows that I wish had programmes for the audience).

Tom Ballard, once actually hosted Q&A, so he knows his subject and creates a very credible vibe, but his comedy voice does not always sound authentic coming out of the mouths of some of the performers. It is clear that the performers who get the most laughs have the most comedy experience. The stand out is Geraldine Hickey who is proving to be a brilliant comedic actress, her timing is just awesome and character pitch perfect. She plays it totally straight and yet is able to get huge laughs every time she interjects. I wish somebody would make a movie where Geraldine could be hilarious.

#KWANDA: A Play is, no doubt, a great Catharsis for people who yell at the TV each week while watching Q&A but continue to watch Q&A. I got sick of watching it years ago and this, unfortunately, reminds me of everything I dislike about it, it’s just a bit too close to reality, which admittedly is becoming almost too insane to satirise. Everything that happens in the play has pretty much happened in real life except that this time the host gets to have a tantrum as well. Maybe this play needs more comedy wigs and silliness & less shouting recriminations, to make it more pleasurable to watch than the real thing, a bit more removed from reality, like, dare I say, Mad As Hell.

I can’t help but feel that Tom has written this to let out all his frustrations of the past year and in some ways we can all relate to that! I’m always happy that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has space for these sorts of bold experiments in comedy theatre. There were audience members around me having a fabulous time and I certainly laughed quite a lot, if mostly at Geraldine Hickey.

#KWANDA: A Play is playing at The Lower Melbourne Town Hall

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2019/shows/kwanda

Breast of the Fest

By Hooi Khaw 

Breast of the Fest delivers on its pun, showcasing a delightful line up of hand-picked local female talent. Despite the gendered name of the show, there appeared to be an equal number of men in the audience enjoying the content equally.

Katherine Allen is the MC for the night, with a warm welcoming stage presence that sets the mood for the fun night ahead. Allen regales us with stories from her experiences with men, some of which have a bizarre almost surrealist feel. Using props to support an otherwise hard to believe story (because it is so ridiculously funny), Allen does a superb job of warming the stage and keeping the energy high for the other acts.

Donna Collins seems like an agile cat, in comic form; she deftly jumps from one idea to somewhere totally unexpected, keeping the audience in stiches. This is an art form, and Collins is an artist who makes something that is inherently difficult look effortless. She has perfected the slightly awkward stage persona, without compromising on presence. There is no discomfort in watching her, only joy.

Aurélia St Clair has a distinctive deadpan delivery that complements her edgy comedy. With as many surprise twists as Collins, a number of which resulted in groans from the audience, St Clair is not afraid to cross some boundaries. However, this suited the crowd who enjoyed her ability to turn a potentially heavy topic like race, into comedy.

Rose Bishop was next, sharing details and observations of her neuroses, her dating life, and the inner workings of her relationship with her father. Her astute observations were extremely relatable and perfectly balanced with a mixture of honesty, weirdness and humour.

Special breast, Geraldine Hickey, had the crowd onside from the moment she skulled her wine i.e. As soon as she walked on stage. As a seasoned performer Hickey has the ability to effortlessly riff on topics seemingly unprepared, advising that she had forgotten she was scheduled to perform that night. Hickey had the men in the room laughing the hardest at the female specific material.

A wonderful collection of rising talent to watch, with an extremely popular show that repeated sells out – get in early to buy tickets!

Breast of the Fest is on at Imperial Hotel – Tony Room https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/the-breast-of-the-fest