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.

Doug Anthony All Stars – Near Death Experience

By Colin Flaherty

It’s taken a couple of years and a trip to the other side of the globe but I have finally witnessed the majesty and debauchery of the latest incarnation of the Doug Anthony All Stars. Time may not have been kind to them (as they repeatedly inform us) and their youthful energy may have waned, but Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson and Paul Livingston still put on a show with plenty of colour, movement and filth.

The character dynamics have been tweaked a little to suit the new format. McDermott still plays the ravenous sex machine but adds some weariness to his Silver Fox. He still has the other two to boss around but regularly lets their antics slide while bemoaning all the things he must put up with. Ferguson takes on Richard Fidler’s naivety with his medication-addled persona. This allows him to undermine McDermott with some innocent yet wicked lines and spout plenty of amusing out of context comments. Livingston largely plays his role as “The Guitarist” as a poe-faced mute. This makes him the perfect whipping boy for McDermott with a few wonderful moments of rebellion creeping in to expand his contribution to this madhouse. With a brief spirited introduction by alter-ego Flacco, it’s almost like the old gang are back.

With a title like Near Death Experience, the theme of mortality naturally looms large over this performance. They have jokes to make you squirm with their graphic imagery, blunt social satire and un-PC turns of phrase – plenty to upset sensitive souls. It was interesting to see how some Australian specific references remained intact with short explanations up front to get everyone up to speed. Repeated lame “impressions” and a ditheringly long monologue play up the geriatric angle.

The songs are as brilliant as always even though the subject matter has changed from anarchy to world weariness. McDermott still has the voice of an angel and Ferguson harmonises perfectly with the odd dodgy note thrown in for laughs. Livingston’s guitar work holds it all together beautifully.

Even though they no longer jump all over the stage, the visual spectacle is wonderful. We get some brilliant shadow work and hilariously wonky “wheelchair dancing”. The background visuals of MRI scans combined with star constellations are gorgeous enough to cause distraction. Long time fans are also treated to a trip down memory lane with a pre-performance slide show.

Near Death Experience is clearly geared towards an audience of a certain age as the material alienates the youngsters while having a go at old age. Fans from back in the day will enjoy the catch up but DAAS virgins are sure to have a whale of a time with these hilariously subversive gents.

Near Death Experience is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 27