Squirrels Top 5 Picks of the Festival

Well the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is winding down this weekend.

We no longer hand out awards, because it is just too difficult for us to see everything, or even see the same shows as each other. Instead most of the Squirrels have picked their Top 5 shows. If they are still running we recommend that you might like to see some of them this weekend. It was really hard to narrow it down to only five.

Of course the festival isn’t over yet and we may see something that changes our list but we wanted to put this up before the festival was over so you could gain from our recommendations.

You’ll notice a few of the names crop up more than once. Some sold out shows are putting on extra performances in the final weekend like the play Choir Girl that had finished its run of three performances, but has added one on Sunday afternoon.

Check out the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website for details and keep festivalling ’til you drop!!

Lisa Clark 

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Dave Bloustien – The Grand Gignol

The Writers

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Sammy J – Potentially


Caitlin Crowley

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Michael Workman – Ave Loretta

Best Comics Worst Gigs

Dave O’Neil – 33 Things I Should Have Said No To



Cathy Culliver 

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Dr Professor Neal Portenza

Ryan Coffey – Late & Loud


Colin Flaherty 

Fabian Lapham & The Actual Musicans:God Fights the Dinosaurs & 9 Other Stories That Will Awesome You in the Face.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Set List

Choir Girl – Sarah Collins

David Quirk – Shaking Hands with danger


Elyce Phillips 

Lessons with Luis – Famoucity!

Lords of Luxury

Sam Simmons – Shitty Trivia

Lawrence Leung’s Part-time Detective Agency

Mike Birbiglia – My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend


Luke Simmons 

Khaled Khalafalla – Devious

Brendon Walsh

Bev Killick – Goes “There”…Again

Daniel Connell – Mr Personality 1988

Trevor Noah – The Racist


2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival finishes on Sunday 21st of April

Dave Bloustien’s Grand Guignol

By Lisa Clark

This is an awesome show by master story teller comedian Dave Bloustien. I’ve been enjoying watching his comedic talents grow and improve over the years and have never been disappointed. Dave has been working on The Grand Guignol for some time and all his toils and dragging puppet booths through airports have paid off.

The hour is made of of several tales, all tinged with horror which often comes as a surprise, even though you know it’s how the show is promoted and the house music is made up of great boppy horror classics by The Cramps and The Damned. We are willingly led with humour into dark places by some delightfully demented characters, such as the be-fezed Professor Mahmoud of the Cairo Museum telling the Tale of Tutankhamen’s penis and creepy door to door beat poet Tupperware Jack.

Dave also appears as himself giving the audience a short chance to relax with his own personable style of stand up, explaining how the title and content were inspired by an alternative theatre of early 20th century Paris which was a sort of extreme Punch and Judy with more realistic effects. Thus we are also treated to a gorgeous puppet show framing the stories, using both shadow puppets and hand puppets designed by Henson-trained Lana Schwarcz. These are not the sort of puppets for children, but I think teenagers would love this show.

The Grand Guignol is an impressively planned and cunningly crafted production. The hour flew by with the audience shrieking with laughter and gasping with horror throughout. The narratives, moving from warm and amusing to often surprise horror twists, occasionally reminded me of the style of many modern Dr Who stories. There are so many surprises that I don’t want to spoil. I just recommend that you go along and find out for yourself.

If Dave Bloustien ever has to fight in court again to prove he is funny (see his previous show The Social Contract) – a taste of The Grand Guinol should win his court case effortlessly.

Grand Guignol is on at Trades Hall til April 7


5 Good Reasons to see Dave Bloustien, Laura Davis and Shane Matheson.

5 reasons to see Dave Bloustien’s Grand Guignol 

1. Rip It Up Magazine said “murder will never make you laugh so hard”. And they’re from Adelaide, so they should know.

2. It’s equal parts comedy and horror. So if it’s hilarious, it’s comedy. And if it’s horrible, it’s on purpose.

3. It has creeptastic puppets designed and built by Henson-trained comedian Lana Schwarcz and original music written and performed by FourPlay String Quartet’s Peter Hollo (with Dave) (you can see / hear some of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWBBIjim0NU)

4. It has something for everyone: standup, storytelling, extreme silliness, a castrated pharoah, party political cult conspiracies, fractured fairy tales, barista confessions, beat poetry and a fez.

5. In 10 years of comedy, it’s the best thing Dave Bloustien (Good News Week, Glass house, Randling) has written. And he’s written a LOT.

6. It’s ‘arts’ so you can enjoy it, even if you are innumerate.

Dave Bloustien’s Grand Guignol is on at Trades Hall in the The Evatt Room


FIVE REASONS TO SEE Laura Davis Look Out, It’s a Trap!

1: This is the worst joke Laura has ever written. Q: “What’s a ghosts favourite kind of beer? A: Ghosts don’t like beer. They prefer spirits. See? Even that’s pretty good.

2: If you would like to see what it would be like if Lisa Simpson did Stand-Up Comedy.

3: If you’d like to see something that you’ll never have expected unless you’re very good at expecting things.

4: The show is free. As in the adjective, not the adverb. “You walk out feeling warm, contented, practically hugged
Go and see Laura Davis if you like laughing and feeling nice.” –Watchoutfor.com

5:Laura has been compared to Comics Daniel Kitson, Josie Long and David O’Doherty. If you enjoy any of those people, then you’ll probably enjoy “Look Out, It’s a Trap!”

Laura Davis Look Out, It’s a Trap! is on at The Tuxedo Cat from the 11th of April


Five good reasons to see Shane Matheson  And The Immortal Space Hopper of Doom

1.Last year I won the mysterious “Jhonsy Award” for most innovative local act.

2.The show has a great Broadway number.

3.The audience gets to join in the fun by throwing things at me.

4.It contains a topical joke about 16th Century religious persecution.

5.I literally die on stage (not literally).

Shane Matheson And The Immortal Space Hopper of Doom is on at The Tuxedo Cat from the 11th of April




Dave Bloustien – The Social Contract (redux)

By Lisa Clark, 

In 2009 Dave Bloustien received the Moosehead award to create a show from an intriguing idea. David had had to go to court to win wages from a dodgy promoter by proving that he was funny. It was directed by Alan Brough and a big success. I sadly missed it last time and after finally seeing it, recommend that everyone should catch up with it this time around, during it’s short run.

Dave opens with some beautiful nostalgia material to take us all the way back to 2007 when Myspace was an important Social Networking tool & nobody had heard of Kony. This smoothly takes us to the sort of political material he was performing at the time and why he was so surprised to be invited on a High School End of Year Social Cruise in Cronulla, didn’t notice blaring warning bells, his reasoning for taking the gig and the inevitable and hilarious nightmare that ensues.

It’s a wonder that there is no real anger in recounting the tales, instead, with a twinkle in his eyes, Dave enjoys sharing the ridiculousness of it all and surprises us with clever jokes along the way, my favourite being the funniest observation of the difference between nerds and hipsters I’ve ever heard. His style is intellectual, the title being inspired by philosopher Thomas Hobb’s theory and with references to Rousseau, Edgar Allen Poe and the like, it is pretty obvious that his humour might not be for drunken teens. As a tale of a nice guy underdog winning against ‘the man’ The Social Contract (redux) should actually appeal to just about anyone else.

Dave Bloustien is one of those talented performers who can combine an enthralling, beautifully crafted over arcing story with their honed crowd pleasing standup with seemingly effortless skill. He can also conjure up great characters with some well observed impressions. It is always a pleasure to spend an hour safely in the hands of this congenial comedian. Will he win his case? There is only one way to find out and if you decide to go along you will definitely be the winner.


Dave Bloustien’s The Social Contract (redux) is on at St Ali Cafe in South Melbourne


Dave Bloustien

by Lisa Clark

How did you become a stand up comedian?

I certainly never trained or applied for it. But there was a point when I looked back and realised I’d been doing stand-up and comedy writing all my life. Having said that, I do remember performing an entire Colin Lane routine for a camp talent contest when I was about 14, so I must have had an inkling. I didn’t start performing at open mic at the Sydney Comedy Store for another 12 years.

Who inspired you in comedy?

Growing up, I was a massive comedy nerd. My earliest stand-up memories are of Bill Cosby and Tom Lehrer on vinyl, but when I got a bit older I used to watch the Big Gig. I was a big fan of Anthony Morgan, Glynn Nicholas, Jean Kittson, The Found Objects and the Doug Anthony All-Stars, and I’d go see what I could at the Adelaide Fringe. I also went through a big Steve Martin and Emo Philips phase. The first full stand-up concert I remember seeing was Lenny Henry on SBS, and I was mad for Alexei Sayle in High School, so my tastes were pretty eclectic.

You’re obviously very busy at the moment. Is this why you’ve decided to perform your brilliant Moosehead winning The Social Contract instead of a new show (which was to be called The Grand Guignol)?

Yeah, there were a number of factors, but the biggest one was probably Randling. It’s a new show I’m writing for and helping develop for the ABC, and it turned out to need all my days, two of my evenings and bits of my weekends. Plus I’m co-producing two other shows, developing a sketch comedy show and (until recently) running a monthly comedy room in a bookshop. And being a dad. If I’d had time to think, I would have realised much earlier that I was an idiot and could’t get Grand Guignol as polished as I wanted in time.

But I was also particularly proud of both The Social Contract and A Complete history of Western Philosophy, and wasn’t prepared to perform Grand Guignol if it wasn’t up to the same level of quality yet.

Is it true that you will be doing a short taster of The Grand Guignol at the MICF this year?

Sure is! There are parts of it I’ve been developing over the last year at a room in Sydney called Arthur B’s. Every so often I’d go read out a new comedic horror story, so about half the show had already been written. It just wasn’t going to be polished or memorised. I’m no quite sure what the taster will be yet, basically an hour of stand-up, mucking about, some horror stories and maybe some impro. But I know it will be fun.

In reply to Justin Hamilton’s blog about performing his last festival show you tweeted: “Mine (current MICF show) must be about ‘realising last year SHOULD have been the last one”. I’ve had the feeling that Justin Hamilton has been putting off changing his life for a few years now, are you getting those feelings too?

Not really, but never let the truth get in the way of a good punchline. I’m constantly overwhelmed by the amount of work that’s needed to be a successful comedian. I’ve never had an agent or a manager, and I’ve frequently vowed to quit and be a full-time writer / improvisor. But being on stage is very addictive, particularly once you get to the point where most of your gigs are good ones. I don’t think I could ever stay away for too long. You look at people like Lewis Black and think: screw success, I’ll just keep doing this til I’m old and shaky.

Does having a child to provide for change your perspective on your career?

Yes and no. I was a comedy writer with a steady income before I was a paid comedian. The big difference with having a child is that it saps your will to tour. It’s almost impossible to be a successful comedian in Australia without the ability to travel around it. If it wasn’t for my daughter, I’d probably spend at least 4 months of the year doing festivals. As it is, I usually just do a few weeks.

Tell us what you can about Randling.

It’s a game show about words, hosted by Andrew Denton and starring an excellent and bizarrely eclectic bunch of talent. It’s been really strange hammering it into shape, but the shows we’ve recorded so far have been thrilling and hilarious. If I wasn’t having so much fun with it, I would have written Grand Guignol by now.

You’ve done a lot of TV. How does it compare to stand up?

I tend to be behind the scenes, which is both exciting and frustrating. I will quite happily write pages of jokes every day, but I often get very emotionally invested in what I’ve written, and that can be hard when the person you’re writing for rejects your favourites or (worse) likes your favourite joke but screws up the delivery. More often they pick a joke you threw together as filler and use their superior delivery skills to spin it into gold. But with stand-up, you have to own the material yourself then and there. It keeps you honest in a completely different way.

Do you see yourself leaving performance behind and becoming a straight writer?

I could never be a straight writer. It always comes out bent.

What would be your dream job?

Computer Game tester, purely because I fit the demographics so well. I’m in my mid 30s and 60% male.

Tell us about Wit Large.

I started Wit Large because I was becoming frustrated with the Sydney comedy scene. It felt like it wanted to appeal to the largest common denominator, and as a semi-literate nerd with an open mind, I wasn’t just wasn’t part of that audience.

So, I approached a bookshop about running a political, socially progressive and intellectual comedy room, which seems to have worked. (I wanted to call it Smug, but the bookshop wisely convinced me that wasn’t a great idea). Since then it’s evolved out of the bookshop and into a ‘comedy label’, largely thanks to Carrie Hardie, who acts as my organisational brain. We’re producing my show at the MICF, along with those of Jack Druce and Shane Matheson.

What is your favourite thing about The Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

People whose work I don’t know bring their comedy close enough for me to see it. And the people whose work I already know push themselves to create something new and exciting. Mostly, that friends of mine from all around the world come to Melbourne to work and drink like the blazes.

Give us 5 Reasons to choose your show The Social Contract.

1. It’s a heart-warming tale of the little guy (that’s me) going up against ‘The Man’.

2. It’s topical: ‘The Man’ went on the run late last year with tens of thousands of dollars from high school formals around NSW. I’ve no idea if he’s been found, but he certainly made the papers.

3. It has been certified funny by the Bondi Junction Small Claims tribunal, and I have the legal documentation to prove it.

4. You’ll be supporting the fantastic St. Ali cafe venue in South Melbourne, a truly independent hub venue run by comedians, for comedians.

5. If you don’t, I’ll sue. 😉

The Social Contract is on at St Ali
Click here for tickets and more infomation