Feature Story- Welcome to Squirrel Comedy!

Squirrel Comedy is an independent website based out of Melbourne providing comprehensive news, reviews and comedy gig listings. With a focus on Australian stand up, we’re committed to keeping our readers informed with all that’s happening in our thriving live comedy scene. Squirrel comedy is also your source for anything and everything funny, including news, reviews and interviews with comedians and people in the know.
To keep up with whats happening in the local comedy scene you can check out our gig guide, local podcast guide or list of comedian’s blogs.
We will be publishing photos from gigs you’ve seen during the week, if you have any you would like to share send them to us by email at squirrels@squirrelcomedy.com

We plan to write about all the rooms in Melbourne and hope to interview the producers of those rooms. If you have a room we don’t know about, get in touch at editor@squirrelcomedy.com. We begin with a room close to our hearts, Local Laughs in St Kilda and an interview with Janet A McLeod.

We’re also looking forward to keeping you up to date with all the news from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. But remember comedy is not just for Festivals, fabulous live comedy is happening in rooms around Australia every night of the week.

Putting this site together has been a big learning curve for us, and we’re still learning. I’d especially like to thank Jayden for designing the logos and a lot of the work getting it up, to Colin for his all his work on the site, especially the gig guide and to Annette for her original vision and inspiration.

Lisa Clark, Editor.

You can interact with us on Facebook and Twitter.

MICF 2012 Shows on sale now

Tickets are now on sale for shows in this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The Comedy Festival Gala is being hosted by Sammy J & Randy and has already sold out, but there are still tickets available for some of the festivals biggest events including the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow, RAW Comedy National Grand Final, The 23rd Annual Great Debate Upfront and more!

Highlights in 2012 include American comedy legend Wanda Sykes, the return of UK based comedians Dave Gorman, Shappy Khorsandi, Glenn Wool Tim Key and Aussie born Sarah Kendall. Simon Munnery’s two shows, including his conceptual restaurant ‘La Concepta’ which we tasted a sample of during his show last year and, as always, a new one from Daniel Kitson. Four of Australia’s best comedians are getting together to perform a live silent film; Andy Mclelland, Asher Trelevan, Celia Pacquola and Sammy J in Tie her to the Tracks. Interesting pairings include Bob Franklin and Steven Gates (of Tripod) in Stubborn Monkey Disorder and the husband and wife team of Mike McLeish & Fiona Harris in …..Plus One. There is also Rod Quantock’s Mystery Comedy Tour which is garanteed fun if you don’t mind walking and don’t forget to try something new. You might discover the next big name! Of course there are many, many more shows happening, so get to it.

To get in early and secure your seats, check out the full list of shows on sale here. New shows are being added as they go on sale.

Janet A McLeod – Producer of Local Laughs

By Lisa Clark

I first got to know Janet A McLeod as co hostess of The Cheese shop, a public radio show about comedy and its live standup counterpart at The Prince Patrick Hotel. Since then she has gone on to host many rooms and encourage many fledgeling comedians into the limelight. I cornered her before a gig with a few questions about her legendary room Local Laughs.

1. When did you start running venues by yourself
The Planet [at The Prince Patrick Hotel] started in 1999, but prior to that I was always putting on things like Quiz International.
I was one of the instigators of Upfront, I actually came up with the name. Lots of ideas were put forward and that was the one that nobody had anything against.

More recently Janet ran comedy rooms at The Laundry in Fitzroy for a while as well as in Bendigo.

2. What is your policy re newbies
I check out as many Newbies as I can. I either see them personally and think oh I like you I want to support you! Or I might take advice from people I trust. The way I check if it’s genuine is by saying to them ‘OK, if your reputation stood on this, would you still recommend them?’ If they suddenly backtrack I say ‘OK fair enough we won’t worry about it then, you see, my reputation does stand on it.’

As well as Running Local Laughs Janet judges at Melbourne Fringe Festival and at RAW.

I’ve probably seen in excess of 10,000 comedy performances easily, which is quite extraordinary really, so I think My judgement of comedy horseflesh is pretty refined.

3. Any advice for wannabe comedians
Be Nice. When you are approaching people who run rooms be considerate of the fact that you’re not the only person in the world wanting gigs.

Be inventive, if everybody is talking about the one thing, don’t talk about it, find something else to say.

Find a different way to express yourself, find your own voice on stage.

If you really love comedy, you don’t always have to be a comedian. That might not be your calling and sometimes trying to fit a square peg into a round hole isn’t a great thing to do. You can do other things, production, front of house, writing.

4. Your Favorite Performances here, anything that stands out?
The Flashmobbing last year organised by Dingo & Wolf who were joined in there dance routine by Dave Callinan, then me, who was inveigled on stage and to the surprise of everyone I knew the dance routine as well then just when it seemed to be over we dragged Anyone from Tennis on stage and they knew the Routine as well. Appropriately it was to ‘Strawberry Kisses’ which I’d selected. That was really good fun because it was pranking the audience.

Another great time was when Adam Hills was doing an extended set and discovered something I’ve known for ages, that people on the trams stopping out the front can here the performers up on stage. He was able to get a couple to get off the tram and come on stage and in great StKilda style they were hilarious. That was a top moment. The Bedroom Philosopher running out into the street partially naked pretending he was crazy frog. Duff vs Tram, he ended his set by disappearing onto the tram.

5. Any Tips for others wanting to start their own Room?
Start your room on time. If you wait hoping that extra people turn up, the people who are there will get pissed off and the people who turn up late think ‘oh it looks like it starts late, so next time we’ll come at quarter to instead of half past’. So the start time will get later & later.

Book people because you like them, not because you think the audience might like them. If you think they are funny, put them on, if you don’t, you don’t have to. If they are a mate and you don’t think they are funny, invite them to your party, don’t put them on. Don’t make it a ‘mate’s room’ which can also be a bit of a sausage fest, go out and beat a drum together instead.

It doesn’t have to be free to get people in, even as a student I could afford $5 to see comedy which is more like 10 or 20 dollars now. Make the audience value it and make the comedians feel valued. And if you’re running a room, you’ve gotta feel valued as well. You’re not allowed to be a martyr and pay everyone else and miss out yourself, because you will stop running your room. It’s important that everybody gets something out of it.

Local Laughs

By Colin Flaherty

An institution of the Melbourne comedy scene, Local Laughs has been running since June 2003. It has built up the reputation of being a quality night that attracts a quite comedy savvy audience and has many performers queuing to get a spot.

The format of Local Laughs is the standard two brackets containing three or four performers in each. The acts are lovingly curated by Melbourne comedy queen Janet A McLeod and comprises an interesting mix of established acts, up and comers, and special guests from interstate and overseas. Local Laughs doesn’t feature open mic spots, instead giving stage time to new faces who have proven themselves elsewhere, such as finalists in Raw Comedy and other events where they may have caught Janet’s eye.

Quite a few comics come down to watch when they’re not performing, so there’s always plenty of interesting conversations to be had during interval and after the show. The rest of the audience is made up of hard core comedy fans, the families & friends of the comedians and St Kilda Backpackers. Often big names will drop in to try out some new material, especially in the lead up to festivals. The Local provides a comfortable and forgiving atmosphere in which to perform so comics are often happy to try out material and concepts they wouldn’t normally use in other rooms, which has led to some very special performances.

Being a Taphouse, The Local boasts an impressive range of beer from many smaller breweries. There are fifteen on tap (each with its own unique glass) and many more bottled varieties in the fridges. They also have plenty of other beverages available if beer is not your tipple of choice. The friendly bar staff are highly knowledgeable in the beers that they stock and this attention to detail enhances the drinking experience. There is a restaurant upstairs where all of their dishes contain beer, and a rooftop bar. A smaller menu of simpler fare is available downstairs during the comedy.

The comedy venue on the ground floor looks like a old school men’s club, with wood panelling, shelves of old books, lamp shades and seating mostly made up of comfy couches, arm chairs and a few tables and chairs. The doors open at 7.30 and the show starts crack on 8.30 and it pays to get there early if you want a seat.