Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird

By Peter Newling

If this esteemed website offered star ratings for its reviews, this would be a five star review.

Any Melbournite with a capacity for empathy will have been horrified by the recent scenes of anti-trans hatred appearing on the steps of our Parliament House, backed up by conspiracy theorists and saluting Nazis. It is against this troubling backdrop that Melbourne is playing host to what I believe to be one of the most timely and important hours of comedy we’ve seen in years.

Jordan Gray is a trans woman. Over the course of the hour, she shares her story, her soul, and (note the nudity warning) her body with us. Using a superhero theme, Jordan picks away at the hypocrisy underpinning anti-trans sentiment, asking us to help her understand how people can idolise a man who transforms into a bat, yet struggle with a man who transforms into a woman. The title of the show works on so many levels.

Make no mistake – it’s breathtakingly hilarious. This show has toured extensively over the past year or two and has rightly achieved critical acclaim wherever it’s been, including earning Gray a best show nomination at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.

The material is well honed and perfectly balanced. Spoken parts of the set are delivered with huge energy and unrelenting joy. Her exaggerated physicality and expression make the joy infectious – it flows off the stage and engulfs the audience. Her audience interaction is playful and non-threatening.

The songs are a highlight of the show. Her musicality is phenomenal. Brilliant keyboard skills are matched by an amazing voice. And the writing is outstanding. Minchin-esque, the songs are lively, irreverent, topical and bloody hilarious. She performs them with every molecule of her being.

The closing line is heartbreaking.

In some ways it’s a shame this show is playing in a venue which only allows 129 people per night to see it. It’s great to see that an additional show, in a much bigger venue, has been added. I hope it doesn’t lose its intimacy.

All of us will have seen shows that have stayed in our minds days after the event. This one is unforgettable.

Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird is playing at the Melbourne Town Hall Powder Room until April 23.
The Saturday April 22 show has been relocated to Max Watt’s.

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.