Highlights and previous reviews for The Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022

by Lisa Clark

Welcome to Comedy in 2022. Lots of venues are open and buzzing as comedians all over Australia are getting their shows together, and begin to perform them in Festivals such as Adelaide and Canberra. Here in Melbourne it all still feels a bit weird and little scary, but those getting out there are so happy to feel some sort of shared normalcy. It’s a later than usual Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year, which fits in with the later Easter and, well, you know, hopes that infections will go down.

We won’t be able to do as many reviews as we usually do, we will do some reviewing and also promoting shows with our “5 Good Reasons to See….” and so forth. We will also be keeping on top of what’s happening via social media.

As always, there’s something for everyone; from straight standup to sketch, impro, magic, mime, circus, quizzes, cabaret and the totally bonkers weird shit. There’s people off the telly and people off the radio and people who are so hilarious you wonder why they are not.

Ronny Chieng who left us to work on The Daily Show and Hollywood blockbusters is back on his The Hope You Get Rich Tour but get in quick before his short run sells out. Sammy J, now busy breakfast Radio DJ and ABC political satirist, is managing three shows of Symphony in J Minor that will also go quickly. It’s exciting to see Carl Barron make a rare appearance as part of the festival as well as Laura Davis returning from London to perform If This Is It and Judith Lucy and Denise Scott are Still Here.

I recently saw Oliver Hunter working on his show On a Roll, he is a fantastic up and comer who like most up and comers has actually been doing comedy for 6 years. Kit Richards, an amazingly talented up and comer, will be burning some bridges, no doubt, in the sarcastically titled The Nicest Guy in Comedyand. Ben Russell & Maggie Looke will be doing comedy walking tours (Ultimate Hollywood Tours – It’s a Moosehead show!). Rob Hunter is doing a Late O’Çlock 10 year anniversary show that should be as wild and silly as we have come to expect. Some comedians are doing second shows; Guy Montgomery is doing Friday night Spelling Bees, Anna Piper-Scott will be creating an improvised show on the spot for three nights in Is This Anything?  and Josh Earl is doing his final live Don’t You know Who I Am? Podcast recordings, which will go out with a bang, including the 300th special edition show.

It wouldn’t be a MICF without Faulty Towers The Dining Experience. We’ve reviewed it many times – hard to resist the lure of a free meal for a poor hungry reviewer – but actually everyone I know who’s seen it had a fabulous time!

After last year, proving we don’t actually need them, it’s quite lovely to see our dear overseas family return (well some of them have married Australians) Ross Noble, David O’Doherty, Carl Donnelly, Arj Barker and Stephen K Amos. We can only Hope that Fern Brady and Flo and Joan become firm regulars too.

Do our New Zealand regulars even count as overseas, how are Guy Montgomery and Urzila Carlson not living here?

Most performers have somehow worked up Fresh shows for 2022 and a few are offering shows again, with a refresh and a chance for you to catch up if you missed it the first time.

 Here are some shows we reviewed earlier:

Big Big Big: Catching Jack

By Lisa Clark



Breast of the Fest x2


By Jess Welch


By Hooi Khaw


Diana Nguyen : Chasing Keanu Reeves (an Encore)

By Nick Bugeja


Emo Majok: Black Santa (Returns)

By Nick Bugeja



Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

By Ron Bingham



Diana Nguyen : Chasing Keanu Reeves

By Nick Bugeja

You might recognise Diana Nguyen from her 20 second stint on Underbelly, 24 second appearance on Please Like Me, or her 22 second cameo in Jack Irish. Alternatively, if you’re a prolific LinkedIn user, you might have come across her viral ‘Dancing Diana’ videos, bringing new and refreshing content to the mundanity of a professional networking platform.

Nguyen’s latest show, Chasing Keanu Reeves, gives her the freedom to tell her own story, in her own words, over an enjoyable 50 minutes. The show covers a great deal of personal territory, from her career to her tumultuous dating life, to her observations of Vietnamese-Australian culture to her relationship with her caring yet accidentally hilarious mother. Accordingly, Nguyen’s various impressions of her mother are wrought with love, but lose none of their punctuating humour in the process.

Nguyen has a very likeable stage persona, interacting with the crowd in a spontaneous and good-natured way. Her exchanges with a member in the front row – which’ll presumably be reproduced in some form in her subsequent shows – were a particular highlight. Rather than retreating backstage as the show ended, Nguyen farewelled members of the audience near the exit – adding a further human touch to her performance.

Despite its title, the show is fairly lean on Keanu Reeves material. But that’s okay. It is a performance firmly about identity and self-exploration, one that is more honest and emotive than any one-liners about a distant, unknowable celebrity could be.

Instead, we get to know Nguyen, in what is ultimately a personal, engaging, and humorous performance.

Chasing Keanu Reeves is showing at the Greek Centre until 4 April.

5 Good Reasons to See Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves

1. Keanu Reeves – he is the most wanted actor at the moment, and it all started with a meme photo of him sitting sad on the bench. We want more of Keanu Reeve’s matrix.

2. Chasing Keanu Reeves

3. Chasing Keanu Reeves to have my baby. However, I am being considerate and will be freezing my eggs just in case it doesn’t work out.

4. Tips how to find love on Linkedin! In the past two years I have accumulated 34k Sugar Mummy and Daddys!

5. This is my 15th year in the entertainment industry, and I have accumulated a whole list of roles on Australian TV:

– UnderBelly for 20 seconds
– Upper Middle Bogan for 20 seconds
– Jack Irish for 20 seconds
– Please Like Me for 20 seconds

In 2020, I want to extend my career to 25 seconds with Keanu Reeves.

Chasing Keanu Reeves is on at Greek Centre from March 26 to April 19

5 Good Reasons to see Dirty Diana

1. Diana’s mum has high expectation for this show so Diana is telling jokes, playing ukulele, and cooking spring rolls all at the same time.

2. There will be a Durian on stage during the show. The beautiful, putrid smell of life.

3. Diana has invited Pauline Hanson to the show. Her RVSP is still pending. Fingers crossed.

4. Diana has been on Q&A, Friday Front Bar, and Fox Footy speaking in Vietnamese so the next level is to do this at Dirty Diana – #SameSamebutDifferent

5. This show is about embracing the tingles of life. Including at 10pm when you’re alone in your bedroom. OR you could be at this show and be part of a collaborative tingle.

Diana Nguyen performs Dirty Diana at Storyville