Geraldine Hickey – It’s My Show

By Lisa Clark
Geraldine HIckey

Solo Festival shows can get a bit lonely for standup comedians, everyone is busy and wrapped up in their own worlds. Geraldine Hickey has decided to have more fun this Fringe by hosting her very own Tonight Show and surrounding herself with dear and talented friends.

Each night of It’s My Show has a different theme and different guests. We were lucky to have very special guests The Two Kate’s from Get Krak!n, Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, and Geraldine’s bestie AACTA Award winning Celia Pacquola. Everyone’s offered a wine and the conversation was about tonight’s topic, school, whether they loved or hated it. Celia was given a fun task which involved hooking up an audience member with a potential date on Tinder.  Up and coming comedian Daisy Berry did some amusing standup and Laura Dunemann turned up in the guise of a long lost relative of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. Some of the best character work I’ve seen her do and the audience loved it.

Every talk show host needs a super supportive side kick and this was provided in It’s My Show by fab comedian and DJ Kelly Fastuka. She’s quick with pertinent music, plenty of banter and bringing up an unexpected slide at Geraldine’s request. Tonight’s theme was school and there were some very cute school pics, so make sure you sit where you can see the screen on the side wall. Because of the different guests and themes this is a show you can revisit. I also think it might make a fun podcast or vidcast to get up on line.

I’ve seen and loved most of Geraldine’s Festival shows, she tries to put on something a bit different each year and it’s pretty much always wonderful because there is a sense that she’s genuinely herself on stage, and Geraldine’s self is a kack. The show also reflects Geraldine’s personality by being fairly relaxed and daggy. She’s certainly having such a great time with It’s my Show and you will want to join her party.

It’s My Show is on at The Imperial Hotel until September 29

Class Clowns 2014

By Noel Kelso

Everybody remembers the class clown in their year at school. The one person who was always messing about and making people laugh.

Now in its 19th year, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s own Class Clowns education programme takes those kids from the back of the class, gives them some workshops with professional comedians such as Kate McLennan, Danny McGinley (himself a former winner) and Aunty Donna, and places them front and centre on stage before a packed audience at the Capitol theatre in Melbourne.

The afternoon commences with our hosts Ronny Cheung and Luke McGregor – the unlikeliest double-act in comedy – arriving on stage and warming-up the audience with their very different performance styles. This got the audience laughing and opened them up for the young acts to follow.

Thirteen acts from all across Australia stepped on stage to entertain and delight those in the room. The audience laughed along to gags about school trips, teacher’s foibles, solutions to Melboune’s traffic problems and teenage surliness. It was two hours of joy from start to finish.

As the judges deliberated their decision the room was kept laughing by special guests Demi Lardner, RAW comedy winner 2013, and British sketch duo Max and Ivan. Their bizarre take on a botched bank robbery was effortlessly funny and their air guitar contest, which recruited an audience member to help out, was inspired lunacy which had the room roaring with laughter.

It was then time for the big moment and McGregor and Cheung led all of the young performers back onto the stage as they announced the winner and three runners-up as decided by the judging panel which included comedians Sara Pascoe, Dave Callan, Sammy J and Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director, Susan Provan.

The three runners-up were Mabita Makwaza from Sacred Heart College in South Australia whose material was both funny and socially aware; Jack Keenan from St Leonards College in Victoria whose routine was energetic and surprisingly mature for someone of fourteen, and Grace Bruxner from Darwin High School in Northern Territory, whose lampooning of the stereotypical surly Goth teen was sharply observed and laugh-out-loud funny.

The winner of the competition was 14 year old Gregor Tarrant from Wodonga Middle Years’ College in Victoria, whose elastic-limbed routine combined physical comedy and great gags to fine effect and had the audience rolling about with laughter.

Hopefully we will see more of these young comics in the future and they will continue their comedic endeavours further.

Heats will begin for 2015 later in the year.

Kate McLennan : The Duck’s Nuts

By Alanta Colley

McLennan quickly disarms her audience with a big, bright smile and a charming persona. McLennan feels like a friend within minutes of the show getting underway.

Kate initiated discussion by obeying the mandatory ruling that a female comedian must state her age, marital status and whether or not she has kids before the audience, like some sort of societal trial by jury. But luckily she carried the conversation into far more interesting directions and critically analysed the structures which dictate this social obsession. McLennan talks of the women who perpetuate the idea that success and fulfilment is solely governed by these attributes. She talks about her personal relationship with these pressures; on one hand rejecting them, another questioning them, and the struggle not to internalise other people’s expectations.

McLennan is a competent story teller. She builds a robust picture for us of her mother and father, both endearingly mad in their own way, and the experience of growing up in Mortlake in regional Victoria. McLennan speaks to a rugged Australian upbringing dressed in overalls, bikie adventures, secret clubs and trips to the tip. She speaks of failed family holidays and turning out okay despite the laissez fare approach her parents took to parenting, which was more the norm of the 80’s. McLennan’s masterful telling makes many of the themes of her stories of her family’s interactions recognisable to the audience, particularly the slightly dysfunctional way families deal with the harsher realities of illness or misfortune.

McLennan is confident enough to play with the audience a little bit, leading us down one narrative before revealing she’d made it up then taking us off somewhere else. She builds our trust enough that we can forgive her for letting us invest in a fictional account.

The mischievous and warm McLennan is more together than she lets on. This was a truly pleasurable hour with a surprise or two in store at the end.

The Duck’s Nuts is on at Melb Town Hall – Lunch Room until April 20

Interview with Kate McLennan about The Ducks Nuts, Bleak – the web series and her recent trip to India as part of RAW Comedy.

By Lisa Clark

Kate McLennan first came to everyone’s attention with her extraordinary solo performance in the 2007 Barry nominated The Debutante Diaries, where she created a small town of characters all preparing for a Debutante Ball. Since then she has been involved in many different projects including animation voice work, (Dogstar and The Flaming Thongs), a children’s live radio show (Super Speedy Sound radio Show), television (It’s a Date and Slide Show) and performing as part of a comedy double act such as in last years Standard Double which was a moving and funny sketch show performed in a hotel room with Wes Snelling. This year, as well as creating  The Ducks Nuts for MICF, Kate has been busy producing an on-line web series with co writer and producer Kate McCartney called Bleak.

Lisa: How long have you been doing comedy and how did you get started?

Kate: Some uni mates and I formed a sketch comedy group, The 5th Dementia, in 2001 and we did our first show in the Melbourne Fringe that year. 2014 will be my 12th Comedy Festival; it’s a bit like I’m graduating from Primary School and heading off to play with the big kids at High School.

Lisa: Who in comedy has inspired you?

Kate: As a teenager I was completely obsessed with Absolutely Fabulous. I loved how Jennifer Saunders created these characters who had no redeemable features. They’re not likable at all and I’m more interested in that area of writing; how far you can push an audience into loving characters that are saying and doing awful things.

From a stand-up point of view I’ve been definitely been inspired by Maria Bamford and her incredible knack for slipping effortlessly into characters.

Lisa: Tell us about your recent trip with Justin Hamilton to India for RAW Comedy.

Kate: It was brilliant. It’s an exciting time for comedy in India because the scene is in its infancy; all the comics that we worked with were so hungry for information and worked so hard at the craft. Hammo and I got so attached to everyone – like we were coaches on The Voice. I cried on the final night because I was so proud of everyone, in hindsight I might have had my period, but still, it was an emotional experience. I met this love comic in Bombay, his name is Akshay Shinde; he was a real dark horse and such a lovely kid. I wish I could have smuggled him back on the plane. I can’t wait for everyone to see our winner, Rohan Desai; he’s deliciously awkward with shades of Hannah Gadsby, Luke McGregor and Dayne Rathbone. You’ll all love him.

Lisa: Have you been to India before?

Kate: It was my first time – it won’t be my last though.

Lisa: Was there a bit of culture shock?

Kate: Not really, I expected it to be nuts and overwhelming, but I didn’t find it to be as full on as people had led me to believe. But then again, I love a bit of culture shock. If I travel and don’t get jolted a bit I feel like I’ve had a really boring trip.

Lisa: You’ve done some fairly theatrical pieces like last year’s stunning Standard Double. What was it like working with Mark Watson as a director?

 Kate: We had an intense rehearsal period with Mark Watson, which was such a great learning curve for Wes and I. We were totally intimidated by Mark because he’s got such a brilliant mind, but he had a wonderful way of totally disarming us and made us feel totally relaxed around him. We improvised a lot in rehearsals and Mark was really open and let us take things to their most intimate and disturbing of levels, I think we could go there because he made us feel like he was genuinely interested in watching us work, he knew how to appeal to us because Wes and I are such ego maniacs! Each night after rehearsals we’d debrief in the Vics Bar at the Victoria Hotel and we all ended up forming creative crushes on each other. It was lovely.

Lisa: Was it hard to find venues to do warm up spots for that?

Kate: We didn’t really do any warm up spots, as such, for that show – it wasn’t that type of work. Though we did do a couple of spots during the season of the Comedy Festival at The Shelf, which went really well. We’ve since done other spots with characters from the show at that night and they work because they audience gets the style of the sketch and have gotten to know Wes and I. Justin also does a brilliant job of setting the scene.

Lisa: So how do you think Standard Double went and was hiring the hotel worth it ie did it cause problems or add to the excitement, or both?

Kate: Some hotels didn’t want a bar of it, which was a real shame, but The Blackman were bang up for it; they have a bit more of a creative vision and were onboard from the word go. It’s actually great exposure for a hotel, like an open for inspection for hundreds of potential guests really.

Obviously it’s not a money maker for us because we can only fit in a small amount of people so we’re limited with the festivals that can take us on; they have to have an interest in the creative and audience experience, rather than the financial rewards, as was the case last year with our stint up at the Darwin Festival.

I only have positive things to say about the hotels we’ve performed in, the only weird thing that happened the whole time was a couple having a barny next door. They did shut up when Wes and I went out onto the balcony for our first scene, which involved us simulating a couple having sex. They stopped arguing and went very quiet…I’m not sure what they got up to after that.

Lisa: I also loved Super Speedy Sound radio Show. What was it like writing for others to perform your work?

Kate: It was tough because my mates were in the cast and I didn’t want them thinking; ‘This is really boring dialogue YAWN.’ So I tried to make it interesting for the actors, while also appealing to the kids and the parents. It was also weird getting to the point where I had to let it go. I’m a control freak so it was good to learn to walk away from it and hand it over.

Lisa: Is this year’s festival show The Ducks Nuts about personal experience or is it about characters and situations that you’ve made up?

Kate: It’s a personal show that basically looks at this idea of reaching an age where everyone around you is telling you that you need to get married, buy a house, have a kid and buy shit loads of stuff. I have so far rejected all of the above stuff, I don’t know, I just think we complicate things. When I was a kid my parents weren’t obsessed with making us happy

Lisa: Have you gone back to a more standup kind of show?
Kate: Yeah, it’s pretty much straight stand-up, of course there are moments through-out the show where Gayle and Pockets (my Mum and Dad) get a run, along with a couple of other relatives and colourful characters that have popped up in my life, like a particularly full-on border security guy at LAX.

Lisa: Is this a personal show or is it about characters that you’ve made up?

Kate: It’s a personal show that basically looks at this idea of reaching an age where everyone around you is telling you that you need to get married, buy a house, have a kid and buy shit loads of stuff. I have so far rejected all of the above stuff, I don’t know, I just think we complicate things. When I was a kid my parents weren’t obsessed with making us happy

Lisa: The costume is amazing, is it just for the publicity shots or will you wear it on stage?

Kate: Not telling.

Lisa: Tell us about Bleak the webseries.

Kate: Kate McCartney and I have been working on Bleak for about three years, it didn’t look like it was going to be made for TV so we decided to run the Pozible campaign and make it ourselves. We wanted to have something to show our grandkids when we were old and frail, I mean who wouldn’t want to watch their grandma saying ‘My vagina is massive’ on screen? It’s a beautiful legacy.

We are completely indebted to our Pozible supporters; they’re about shareholder, not just in Bleak but also in us as a creative partnership.

Kate McCartney and I have started a company, Lead Balloon Productions and we’re using Bleak as our launching project, you can view it on our Youtube channel LeadBalloonTV. All going well we’ll have our next project, Katering, on Lead Balloon by the end of the year.

Lisa: I’m guessing that you would like it to be picked up for TV?

Kate: Naturally we’d love it to be on the telly, both here and internationally. We just want to keep working on the show, we love Anna and the OBriens, You might find this hard to believe but McCartney and I have a suitcase of idiotic stories to draw from for storylines.

Lisa: Bleak is quite dark and gentle comedy. Has the success of Josh Thomas’ melancholy comedy Please Like Me inspired you (and possibly anyone who wants to write comedy drama) that Australian audiences might be ready for these sorts of home grown TV shows?

Kate: I think we’re probably inspired by different shows for different reasons; when we were first developing the show we liked the tone and world of Bored to Death, the characters of Arrested Development, the dialogue of Veep and then we wanted it to look like a combination of the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In and a Todd Haynes film. So our influences are fairly varied.

Kate: I’m not sure if Australian audiences are ready, I don’t know if I care if they’re ready. If our show does get made everyone can strap themselves in, because we’ll be taking them on a bit of a ride.

Lisa: Is this a brilliant new world where talented people like yourselves can put your raw work up without influence of producers and commercial interests and see how it stands up?

Kate: We’ve been fortunate enough to have a chance to make a product that we’re happy with. I think it’s hard to fully realize your vision on television screen, because there may be a few too many people throwing their opinions into the conversation. The way we’ve done it we can show people and say ‘Here, this is how we’re doing it. See. That’s the tone. That’s the template for the series.’ Of course people may look at it and say ‘No, we don’t like that’, and that’s just the way it goes, at least we’ve had a chance to make something we’re proud of and on our own terms.

Lisa: I think having Denise as your mum is inspired have you worked with her before?

Kate: She had played Noni in a read-through that we held during the Comedy Festival last year at The Shelf. So filming Bleak was the first time I really got to know Scotty and boy oh boy, what a DIVA! You give her a little role in an internationally broadcast TV show and all of a sudden she’s throwing her weight around demanding stuff like…actually she demanded nothing. I think that was all me, come to think of it.

Lisa: Has it all been filmed already?

Kate: Yeah we filmed 4 episodes over 2 weekends in August last year. So we have two more episodes to release.

Lisa: How do you write a show? Do you set time aside each day and do one at a time or is it a bit more organic?

Kate: I do lots and lots and lots and lots of thinking about it. Then when I figure out how it ends in my head I sit down and knock it out – usually in one or two sittings. Then I might have a bit of a break from it for a couple of weeks, do another draft and then do a read-through or a trial. Then repeat that process until opening night. This show has involved me doing LOTS of gigs in the lead up to try out the material in spots, they’ve been going along quite nicely. I’m just excited to get the show running now.

Lisa: What’s your favourite thing about taking part in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

Kate: Having a wine and a debrief with Geraldine Hickey and Anne Edmonds in the Vic Hotel lounge.


Bleak the web series can be found on Lead Balloon TV Youtube

The Ducks Nuts is on at The Melbourne Town Hall in the Lunch Rm

Winners of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards 2013

By Lisa Clark

What an amazing fabulous festival it has been.

As usual the winners of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were announced on the final night at the Festival Club in the Hifi Bar. This year American UK resident Rich Hall was rewarded for his fifteenth show at the festival in Melbourne. We give our heartiest congratulations to all the winners (as well as all the nominees. how do they choose between them?)

The Full List of Award winners is below.

Funny Tonne Award – Nick Taras who saw 147 shows

The Golden Gibbo – Simon Keck for Nob Happy Sock

highly commended by The Golden Gibbo – Standard Double by Kate Mclennan and Wes Snelling

The Piece of Wood – David Quirk – Shaking Hands with Danger

Directors Choice Award – Mel Buttle – How Embarrassment

People’s Choice is Arj Barker – Go Time

Best Newcomer – Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Barry Award – Rich Hall.

Given out previously…

RAW Comedy – Demi Lardner

Class Clowns competition –  James Warren


MICF Award Nominees Announced

There are seven Nomineed shows for The Barry Award this year.

Hannah Gadsby who is doing two shows – her personal show about surviving her teen years and becoming an adult – Happiness is a Bedside Table and her art show which this year is called Nakedly Nudes and is becoming a bit of a tradition and sells out pretty quickly.

John Conway – The New John Conway Tonight Show. An anarchic crazy late night chat show.

Kitty Flanagan, for Hello Kitty Flanagan. A stunning performer who came back to Australia from the UK a couple of years ago for which are all immensely grateful.

Max & Ivan Are Con Artists –  British performers who’ve been getting some good reviews. (I’ve clearly not seen them)

Michael Workman with another magical lyrical story Ave Lorretta.

Rich Hall he’s so fabulous his show doesn’t need a name. He kicked ass at Political Asylum’s Late Night Riot too.

Trevor Noah The Racist. He’s South African and have heard fabulous things about him.


Now for this year’s Nominees for The Golden Gibbo! (Named in honour of the late Melbourne comedian Lynda Gibson it is awarded to “a local, independent show that bucks trends and pursues the artist’s idea more strongly than it pursues any commercial lure”.)

Kate McLennan & Wes Snelling for their Moosehead awarded, site specific work Standard Double. A character  based show set in a hotel room that can only hold a small audience.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock – For his moving and amazing show about depression with the most heart stopping opening of the festival

Slutmonster and Friends (Jessie Ngaio, Lucas Heil & Wes Gardner) – a gorgeously designed, joyful celebration of sex, silliness and puppets.

Tommy Bradson – Sweet Sixteen or the Birthday Party Massacre. Rock Musical satire of suburbia.

The Writers (Bob Franklin, Stephen Curry and Stephen Stagg) – What goes on in the mind of Bob Franklin?


The Best Newcomer nominees were announced on Tuesday April 16th they are….

Damien Power – Monkey’s in Space

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne and The New Conway Tonight Show.

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

and Steen Raskopoulos – Bruce SpringSTEEN LIVE IN CONCERT!

Congrats to all the 2013 Nominees, Winners will be announced next Saturday April 20th (well… actually early Sunday morning)  at the Comedy Festival Club Hifi Bar