Looking for a bit of Late Night Fun that’s not as exhaustingly late as Festival Club? Are you a bit nerdy, fond of word games, possibly a fan of Celebrity Letters And Numbers or Taskmaster New Zealand (season 2)? Then Guy Montgomery’s Guy Mont-Spelling Bee might just be the show for you.
Guy is one of the best comedians to come out of New Zealand in recent times, why he isn’t hosting a TV Show of his own, is anyone’s guess. He’s charming, super funny, yet laid back and able to improvise goofy quips with his guests who are playing with varying levels of competitiveness.
Tonight’s guests were; Melanie Bracewell from New Zealand who has done one of Guy’s Spelling Bees over there and has her eye on the prize, Rhys Nicholson who made jokes about feeling out of place, but in the end was the people’s champion, Sam Campbell who’s main contribution was coming up with unexpected hilarious interjections and Phil Wang from the UK, Melanie’s serious main competitor. Of course a lot of the fun is the banter between the guests and Guy and also watching Phil Wang’s face drop as he realises this isn’t a traditional Bee, and he’s not the master he expected to be.
Guy has worked out some really funny ways to do a Spelling Bee competition live on stage, because just spelling words might be fun for spelling nerds but won’t make for a very exciting or hilarious comedy festival show. For the main rounds Guy has words on slips of paper kept in three receptacles. Contestants could choose from; the bucket which has the hard 3 point words, a bag holds the 2 point words, and the 1 point easy words are in a cup and if you choose the easy words you will find they are all insults.
The hardest round on our night was a new one made up by Guy where they had to spell the country of the flag he was holding up, so first they had to guess what country the flag belonged to. They were not very familiar flags. This game might not stay on, or maybe he has to make the flags a bit easier for a show that is not for flag enthusiasts. There was also a round of homophones that was hilarious, and reminiscent of the fake game show on 30 Rock called (erroneously) Homonym.
The best round of Spelling Bee was when he made them spell words the same way a 6 year old had spelt them to him. She had also put the words in very cute sentences. It was also hard, but super hilarious. Rhys said ‘I’m finally going to wipe the floor with the lot of you’ and he did! It brought the house down.
Guy Montgomery’s Guy Mont-Spelling Bee sold out one of the biggest rooms in the Town Hall last week. The audience were spelling along with the performers and clapping before Guy announced that they were right. There are a lot of spelling fans out there. I think this show has legs and might make even make a great TV show, so get tickets now before it sells out, becomes a TV show, or possibly even, a cult.
Guy Montgomery performs Guy Montgomery’s Guy Mont-Spelling Bee with different guests each week at The Town Hall in The Supper Room on Friday nights at 10.45pm Throughout the Festival.
It’s not long now until the world’s largest fringe arts festival begins in warmer climes and again a massive contingent of Australians and expats are headed to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many have traveled the Australian festival circuit and have been whipped into shape for international audiences. Some have been previously reviewed by Squirrel but remember they will have been further polished and may have been revised and reworked.
Last year Australian, Hannah Gadsby won Best Comedy at the Fringe, she’s had to cancel her Edinburgh Fringe run this year but there’s a lot more amazing comedy talent coming up from down under. If you are travelling anywhere near Edinburgh this August, have a look at the following list of shows and consider going to see an Australian act.
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.
2018 AWARD WINNERS
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
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 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 AdventureShow]
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.
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)
It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.
It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season. This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly. There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.
Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.
Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.
Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am? There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.
Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.
5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016 1. Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.
(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)
2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.
3.Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.
4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder)– with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show. A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!
5.True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus.
Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X
It has been an amazing year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In a first for the Festival – The Winner of the Barry Award, Zoe Coombs-Marr, is also the Winner of the Golden Gibbo. So it’s a Barry Winner who is brave and independent and we couldn’t be happier for Zoe. Presented via Skype (also a first) by last year’s winner Sam Simmons, the award was for Zoe’s show Trigger Warning starring her gender bending alter ego called Dave. There was Big Buzz around all the Winners this year, with none being a huge surprise and all being lauded and promoted by word of mouth and on social media for weeks. All of the nominees were favourites with everyone and those of us who got out to see them are very happy about them all being held up for celebration. It’s also a rare year where all the winners are Australian, and rightly so. So congratulations to Everyone!!
If Anne Edmonds and Damien Power are a bit sad about missing out on a Barry, they can be cheered by their Directors Awards win as True Australian Patriots and know that their own shows were loved too. True Aussie Patriots – Live was some of the best political and social satire seen on an Australian stage performed by some our best comedians (2 of them having been nominated for Barrys – the other Greg, didn’t do a solo show this year to be nominated, but won the Golden Gibbo as part of Fancy Boys two years ago.) Rhys Nicholson, can take heart in the fact that his new wife Zoe won the Barry and that their big fat gay wedding at the Festival Club last night will go down in Festival history and Legend.
I think I saw co winners of The Directors Award, Zanzoop – Feeble Minds, before a lot of ‘official’ people managed to and have been singing it’s praises to everyone ever since. A truly insane, intelligent, incredible, late night chat show hosted by the wise cracking green alien Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) that surprises you by having sweetness at its heart, performed by some sincerely talented, charismatic people. It also contains Best Newcomer Tom Walker who shines in both Feeble Minds and his own gentle and delightful immersive clowning show Beep Boop.
The Pinder Prize (Named after the late John Pinder who was an original co-founder of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and opened some of the first comedy rooms in Melbourne in the 1970s – The Flying Trapese and The Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant) is a brand new award at the festival which sends recipient – Tom Ballard – to Edinburgh Fringe to perform as part of the Assembly Theatre Program.
Remember that there is still another day of Festival shows tomorrow and some shows cancelled due to illness will hopefully be rescheduled in Melbourne Soon.
Readers from other states: You can look forward to seeing some of these shows or performers in your town soon.
Damien Power – Sell Mum into Slavery
Luisa Omielan (UK) – Am I Right Ladies?!
Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening
Anne Edmonds That’s Eddotainment
David O’Doherty (IRE) – We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At David O’Doherty
Rhys Nicholson – Bone Fide
Whoo Boy! You know that you are in for a wild time when a show is advertised as a being like “Dr. Phil on ketamine” that’s hosted by a “naked party-alien”. Zanzoop: Feeble Minds, the result of a collaboration between Sam Campbell, Tom Walker and Aaron Chen, is a glorious mess of a show and is sure to be a late night cult hit of the festival.
The titular character of Zanzoop (played by Campbell) is a wonderfully snarky and aggressive creature who spends the show interviewing a cavalcade of bizarre characters and attempts to sort out humanity’s various problems. We meet people such as a ball-boy and his handler, Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan, and a promiscuous bird. His “solutions” are formulated via some truly unique and amusing means that may or may not help but are amazing spectacles.
While on the surface this show may appear to be lots of weirdness just for the sake of it, there is some depth to this strangeness. Some of the routines will leave you scratching your head but this world has its own bizarre logic and sticks to it. From surreal concepts to gross out jokes, they run the gauntlet of humour and even manage to sneak in a bit of social satire into this lunacy.
The show is played so loosely that it is difficult to separate the scripted lines from those that are merely off the cuff remarks. With all the cast constantly on the cusp of corpsing you can see that they are often caught on the hop as to where things are actually leading. When Zanzoop takes on board the odd interjection from enthusiastic punters, things threaten to go further off the rails. As to whether these are pre-planned (they do thank their “plant” at the end) is a matter of contention. Campbell regularly breaks character to offer honest appraisal of the stupid shit going on; a nice little touch that puts the audience at ease when things get a little too weird.
The costuming is brilliantly second rate with wonderful attention to detail. White bodystockings act as blank canvas for most of the characters with all sorts of elaborate headgear used to flesh things out. Aside from the slapped on body paint getting all over, things get rather messy on stage as anarchy ensues. Video footage is used with mixed results but mainly exists for some demented shock value.
If you’re not a stickler for neat narrative structure and perfectly delivered lines, this will appeal to you, particularly those who like it weird. Put on your freaky hat and rush out to see this!