Josie Long – Re-Enchantment

By Bren Carruthers

A lot has changed in the six years since Josie Long appeared at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Aside from the obvious, Long has had two kids and recently moved from her native London to Glasgow. Yet the break from the fest has not diminished her abilities – or her withering world view.

Long started out as part of the Whimsical Comedy movement of homemade badges and so forth. She certainly continues her signature, of a warm and endearing stage persona, that’s always been wrapped around a passionate and fierce advocate for her left-wing ideology. It’s a perfect fit for the current world climate, as Long leaps from Brexit and immigration law to the Royals, landlords, and the trials of parenting, somehow maintaining optimism despite everything, especially in her home country.

In many ways, Long cuts the figure of the elder millennial, somewhat stuck between two worlds, moving into middle age and parenthood but still unwilling to relinquish deeply-held political ideals and a youthful joy for life. For audience members of that age in particular, Long offers a much-needed salve for the struggles of daily life… for sixty minutes, at least.

Josie Long is performing in Melbourne Town Hall’s Cloak Room until April 23.

Larry Dean – FUDNUT

By Jess Welch

Have you ever been on a rollercoaster, or just a particularly bumpy bit of road, and it feels like your stomach has dropped out? That’s the feeling that FUDNUT, Larry Dean’s latest show, left me with. But that’s the end. To understand how we got there, we need to go back to the beginning.

The show starts off with some intense moments of getting to know Dean. If you’ve never seen him before, this might be slightly confronting. But it does a wonderful job of setting us up for what he does best – telling wild, crazy and hilarious stories from his life. If you have seen him before, you’ll know these tales can really run the gamut from everyday observations to the incredibly personal. Vulnerable even. FUDNUT tend heavily towards the latter, to an almost uncomfortable degree at times.

Be warned, this show touches on some sexual themes. At a few particular moments, the older members of the audience were shifting uncomfortably. I would say this is probably not a show to see with a parent, unless you have an extremely honest relationship, or you don’t mind some awkward silences on the way home. But those moments aren’t gratuitous and they fit in well with the overall tone of vulnerability. They don’t dominate the show by any means.

The stories weave around and through each other, seemingly at random. There are asides off the asides. Don’t worry though, Dean knows what he’s doing. This is far from his first rodeo. Having seen him before, I was willing to sit back, relax and trust we were in good hands. And we were. There is a reveal in the last few minutes of the show that will leave you reeling, rethinking everything you have thought for the last hour. Of course, I won’t spoil it here, nor do I think you should try to find any answers online before you go. Because the moment of realisation and reflection is breathtaking.

I wish I could see the show again, but knowing casts everything into a different light. All his stories, the strange titbits, the vulnerability, suddenly all perfect sense and slot together to form a truly incredible puzzle you didn’t even know he was building. It’s beautiful. It’s mind-blowingly well written and leaves you thinking, long after the show is finished. The more you think, the more you’ll realise and it’ll impress you all over again.

This isn’t a show for everyone. But if you’re intrigued or on the fence, I highly recommend you give it a chance. I highly doubt you’ll regret it.


Lara Ricote – GRL/LATNX/DEF

By Bren Carruthers

As one might expect from the title, Lara Ricote, the winner of last year’s Best Newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe, is female, Latinx (from Mexico via the Netherlands), and deaf. “Minorities are in,” Ricote tells us, acknowledging that her show title is a little shrewd. But if you had drawn the conclusion that this would be a show that leans heavily on identity politics, you’d be sadly mistaken.

Ricote is brilliantly deft in her approach, drawing from her own experiences as an intersectional minority to deliver insights and laughs with a very broad appeal – from stupid siblings and anti-vax dads to pubescent woes and sexual awkwardness. It makes for a gently guiding hand that subtly ushers her audience into her world and gracefully grants them her perspective – a voice well worth hearing.

With her impishness, complete comfort on stage and willingness to jump into quirky interjections, Ricote is an instantly likeable presence, and her ability to weave a metaphor – sometimes explicitly so – demonstrates she has much more to offer an audience. Assuming she returns to our shores, Lara Ricote has the ability to make herself a cult MICF favourite.

Lara Ricote is performing GRL/LATNX/DEF in The Westin Three until April 23.


By Jess Welch

If you like laid-back, laconic comedy, with honest to God jokes, you need to see Guy Montgomery. A Melbourne International Comedy Festival regular, Montgomery is back with another hour of out of the box hilarity.

The first three quarters of the show is wall to wall laughs. They’re the sort of jokes most people can enjoy. They’re a mix of absurd and observational. Some are the kind you want to memorise and tell everyone you meet for the next week. There’s just something about Montgomery’s delivery that elevates puns and word-play into something more, something impossible to imitate. Maybe it’s just that famous dry and sarcastic New Zealand sense of humour.

Even beyond that, he has a certain mischievous sparkle in his eyes and a lazy grin that makes him seem almost like a mischievous school boy, excited to make the assembly laugh, but playing it cool. And yet, some of the jokes are decidedly uncool – to the point that the crowd is laughing, while fighting the urge to groan, shaking their heads at the cheesiness, but having to give full credit to just how incredibly well written they are. They’re the type of jokes that can only be described as “Dad jokes”, but with a bit of a more adult tone. And to call them dad jokes is especially fitting, as the remainder of the show is dedicated to him talking about being a step- parent.

While still wildly funny, it’s far more real and, at parts, incredibly sweet. For how common step -parenting is, comedy about it seems incredibly rare. Thankfully Montgomery is willing to step up to the plate. But if you’re looking for advice on how to step-parent, I think you’ve come to the wrong place. Despite having step-parented for 5 years, he is more than willing to admit he hasn’t quite mastered it yet. In fact, he seems to approach it with the same fun and boyishness with which he seems to approach everything.

The show examines this Peter Pan-ishness, as he struggles to reconcile being in his mid-30’s, in charge of helping raise a child, while still feeling too young himself. It’s a feeling I think a lot of people in their 20’s and 30’s can empathise with. But he, like everyone else, is doing his best and having a laugh while he’s doing it. Best of all, he’s sharing the laughs with us.


Grace Jarvis – This Is The Last Goldfish That I Am Going to Eat For You

By Lisa Clark

Queensland comic Grace Jarvis is a bright, giggly, charming comedian who is having a great time on stage telling some surprisingly dark stories, with a mischievous glint in her eye and the audience is swept along laughing like drains.

Being young, unsurprisingly, Grace’s comedy mostly revolves around growing up in regional Queensland, her family, high school experiences and dating. Topics Grace has the audience laughing about include racism, bullying, drug taking, self harm, self hatred, hard core porn and Taylor Swift vs Billy Joel. There is an especially eye opening section about the new online porn generation of young men, in particular, and their alarming expectations of what sex involves but Grace is so delightfully disarming and having such a great time on stage, that you barely have a chance to be shocked or disturbed while you are gasping and laughing.

Grace’s humour is all about being the outsider; about coming out as gay and as autistic. Seeing other people from a different perspective is always a good place for a comedian and Grace is able to find the laughs in all the craziness of the world. But underneath it all is quite a lot of darkness that stems from some heavy bullying at an all-girls conservative private school, where even the teachers are bullies. I got the vibe that there were many other “outsiders” in the audience who were definitely on board with where she was coming from as she got a great laugh from a joke about how hard it is, for people with genuine need, to find a good psychologist.

There are unsurprising references to pop culture throughout, including Grace’s love of the X Files. She has a whole section in the show about a teen film called Tall Girl and how it was supposed to be anti-bullying and self-affirming but provided no solace and probably made her feel worse. (I had to watch it and it is indeed horrific despite some great comedic actors I admire being involved)

Grace Jarvis originally caught my attention when she appeared on some live comedy podcasts, showing off her sharp comedy chops and I’m pleased to discover that she can hold her own for a full hour and is a delight to hang out with. Credit also to her director Laura Davis, as this is a very well thought out and executed hour of standup comedy.

Grace Jarvis – This Is The Last Goldfish That I Am Going to Eat For You is on at Trades Hall every night except Wednesdays

Aiden Willcox & Isaac Haigh – Songs from the Heart in the Hole of my Bottom

By Colin Flaherty

What better way is there to finish your night at the Festival than transporting yourself back to a smoky nightclub club (without the actual cigarette smoke) to be entertained by all round entertainers Aiden Willcox & Isaac Haigh? Along with their wonderful “50 piece orchestra”, Willcox and Haigh sang and joked their way through an hour of solid gold entertainment.

Our dynamic duo portrayed these big and brash 70s crooners perfectly. They only briefly touched upon some Martin and Lewis animosity so even without a focus on comedic conflict their interactions were delightfully amusing. They added in a bit of Tim and Eric strangeness to keep us on our toes and their banter was full of hilariously lame (and often nonsensical) jokes that highlighted the somewhat damaged Haigh versus the unhinged Willcox.

Both performers could really belt out a tune with song topics covering strangely mundane themes that were given a unique twist. “Mommy Issues” and Willcox’s “expertly improvised” songs about audience members were highlights. They made liberal use of overtures and exit music which could have been some sly padding but it was delightfully apt for these old school song and dance men.

It was interesting that this wasn’t a period piece. While this duo were outdated, hard drinking lounge lizards in the Vegas mould, they set this show in the modern day and relied on some fish out of water elements to joke about how the business of show and societal values have changed over the decades.

The rare and brief appearances of their lovely manager who was spotted stumbling from back stage before the show, made me disappointed that we didn’t see more of her. Perhaps she was constantly visible from the rear of the room and I missed these treats from my seat up front. Our pair of crooners regularly ventured into the aisles as the other sang a solo tune so it pays to keep alert to catch all the action.

Songs from the Heart in the Hole of my Bottom was a brilliantly, hilariously chaotic show that was perfectly executed. It’s no wonder this won the Best Comedy gong at last years Melbourne Fringe.

Songs from the Heart in the Hole of my Bottom is on at Trades Hall until April 9