Welcome to Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2023

It’s that Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Comedy Christmas!! Melbourne is chockers full of comedians and comedy fans all excited about the three weeks to come.

It’s hard to recommend shows, as everyone’s taste will vary, but I assure you that the Festival will have something to make YOU laugh, there are over 600 shows to choose from! You just have to find Your thing and that is part of what we Squirrels are about, helping you have a great night out. Our reviews can give you an idea if a show might be for you. Sometimes I can even read a negative review and think, no actually, that one might just be my cup of tea. That’s why it can also be great to take a punt on something new if it piques your interest.

I can definitely see a mini trend of musical comedy being back So I thought I might focus on this genre of comedy and list some acts that I can honestly recommend to you as astonishingly talented and funny performers. They have to be brilliant musicians, singers AND Comedians to really pull off Musical Comedy well and they can come at it from different perspectives be they political, geeky, storytelling, raunchy or just plain silly.

Recommended Musical Comedy Shows at MICF 2023

I’ll start with the well known superstars of Musical Comedy: Tripod, Sammy J – Good Hustle, Geraldine Quinn – Broad, Gillian Cosgriff – Actually, Good, Die Roten Punkte – Otto & Astrid’s Joint Solo Project (directed by Neill Gladwin and Dramaturg Casey Bennetto), Andrew Hansen –Is Cheap [The one from The Chaser who sang the songs]. (Do Lano & Woodley count as musical comedians? I have a CD of their songs….so maybe.) You just cannot go wrong choosing to see any of these amazing accomplished performers.

Newer local upcoming stars that everyone was talking about at last year’s festival include Reuben Kaye – doing 2 shows this year; Live and Intimidating and The Kay Hole, Michelle Brasier – Legacy, Gabbi Bolt – Odd Sock and Jude Perl (with Nina Oyama) We should Hang Out –[ it is Sold Out right now, hoping for an extra show]

There are also Cabaret Showcases such as Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, Josh Earl’s 100%Hits and of course Haus Party at The Festival Club where the cream of the musical comedians (and other comedy stylings) will be turning up for spots.

Overseas musical comedians who may be new to you are visiting our shores in Festival season, here are some who are really worth checking out: UK’s Huge Davies [he’s dry and super cool, and part of New Order], Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird? [Ed Fringe Nominee pipped out of the top prize by our own Sam Campell] and Laurie Black – Dystopiano [doing feminist post punk synth comedy], I’ve seen them all, they’re great.

New Zealand’s Two Hearts We’re Pregnant and The Baby is Music, I think I’ve enjoyed them at a Festival Club….

Then there is Ned Kelly The Big Gay Musical by Kaine which is the only one I’m recommending that I’ve seen this before, but it looks like it might be jolly fun.

Other comedy at MICF.

Older school comedians coming to the Festival who you may not have seen do a show in a few years include Ed Byrne, Dylan Moran, Kyle Kinane, and our own Paul McDermott, Tony Martin, Bev Killick, Brad Oaks & even Akmal is back.

Political Comedy is popular too with Tom Ballard doing 2 shows, A Rational Fear doing 1 big show and Sammy J doing it via character comedy. Melissa MGlansey’s The Briefing (About maddening US politics – which is awesome, check it out). Osher Gunsberg Night Time News Network National News, is a curiosity we’re all wondering about, will it be political comedy? Or just a news lampoon, anyway it involves impro. Ben Russell, Greg Larsen & Friends are laying their politics out there with Election Results (Not Satire), they couldn’t be clearer, could they?

In Other News

European Bier Cafe has been renovated, re-named and is now called Morris House.
Some shows are already sold out or selling fast, new shows have been added for Sam Campbell, Tony Martin and Maisie Adams.
Cancelled shows are listed at the top of the list of shows on the MICF website.

If you know of shows cancelling or selling out, feel free to let us know on the socials or by email.


1. Every show is completely unique, like a snowflake! Because it’s all made up on the spot, you will never see a show like it ever again, like a snowflake! It’s also really cool, like a snowflake!

2. Improvisers are the happiest people you will ever see (on the outside). Even if they’re being crushed from the inside out by their own existential dread and will eventually become one with the universe like a dying star, their smiles and buffoonery are just for YOU.

3. Sorry, I can’t concentrate on this one because there is legit a rooster in my neighbourhood and it’s crowing, what is this, Of Mice and Men or something? JOKES: That was an improv! See? We can literally do anything!

4. The Big Hoo-HAA! ensemble contains some of Melbourne’s hardest working comics who can, outside of being seen in this show, can also be seen on TV and other cool things! Par example, Lliam Amor (The Micallef Show), Gillian Cosgriff (ABC2’s Written it Down), Lee Naimo (Axis of Awesome), Dan Debuf (The Loop) and Brianna Williams (The Bachelor Unpacked).

5. If you want to feel as though you have some control in this crazy world, as we hurtle toward irreversible climate change and animal extinction, improv will not only give you the chance to yell out suggestions and have a hand in creating the comedy, but you can also be distracted from these problems for an hour! Ha ha ha! Comedy truly is the world’s greatest medicine (also penicillin)

The Big Hoo Haa is performing at The Melbourne Town Hall throughout the Festival



By Angela East gillian cosgriff 8 songs

Gillian Cosgriff has a problem—she is a procrastinator. Like many of us, she finds the endless warren of information online a source of distraction that leads her astray from doing all the mundane tasks she actually needs to focus on, like doing laundry or writing new material for her shows. So, in November last year she set herself the project of writing a song a week, for 8 weeks, and the result is this fun filled hour of cabaret.

Gillian’s friendly manner had the audience on side from the start with the upbeat opening number Totally Fine, about her procrastinating ways and turning 30. Each of her weekly musical offerings are played through in the order written, and range in theme from those funny Night Thoughts that keep you from getting to sleep, to the more sentimental December the 23rd, about the anticipation and traditions of her family’s Christmas. By the third song of the set Gillian easily gets the audience to join in with her with some chorus call back.

Song highlights included Regular Lady (Goes to a Nightclub), a non-party animal’s party anthem, to counteract all those Bruno Mars confidence-hoarder types; and Finding Felicia Coco, in which a chance encounter with an exotic name in her inbox fed imaginative tales of who Felicia may be, and what fantastic life she might be having.

Along with the 8 songs she had created during those 8 weeks, Gillian takes suggestions from the audience to create an improvised song, performed near the end of the show. Tonight it was an audience member Edina’s birthday that provided the inspiration. In between songs and banter Gillian chatted to Edina and her daughters about what she liked, and deftly incorporated a sushi dinner, tree top adventuring, and Heston Blumenthal cook books into a fun personalised song. Gillian mentioned that the previous performance she was given the topic of menstrual cups, so you never know what the song may be. It is great to see her show off her solid improvisational skills.

Gillian proves that while procrastinating online might be her weakness, all that time following fun facts on the Internet has been useful after all, with the weird and interesting stories she’s come across inspiring laughs and providing the inspiration for her songs and spoken performance in a delightful way. Much like following links on the web you are led from ghost ships, to righteous Facebook posts, to beauty tips that just may not go as well in real life as the internet might have you led you to believe.
8 songs in 8 weeks is a joyful hour by a confident performer.

Gillian Cosgriff 8 songs in 8 weeks is on at Butterfly Club until April 9th


5 Good reasons to see Gillian Cosgriff 8 Songs in 8 Weeks

1. It has a story about an abandoned Russian cruise ship in it. You won’t BELIEVE what happens next.

2. It’s music AND comedy. Who doesn’t love a two-for-one? BARGAIN.

3. There is a whole song about alternate greeting card slogans. This will be great for your future festive occasions. I bequeath these slogans to you. For free. BARGAIN.

4. The show is on at The Butterfly Club, where the staff are notoriously cool and will make you all manner of festive beverages. There is a cocktail named after me, the Gillian Just B’Cosgriff. Where else can you drink a novelty beverage based on the show you’re about to see? Puns! Booze! Treats!

5. During the show I write a song for an audience member, about anything they like. This could be YOU. Have you always wanted a song about your dog? Or about your first date? Or about that time your first date was allergic to your dog? I CAN WRITE YOU THIS SONG.

Gillian Cosgriff  performs 8 Songs in 8 Weeks at The Butterfly Club March 29 – April 9

For tickets and more info check out the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website:




Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night

By Lisa Clark Ali McGregor

This is the tenth year of Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night and it’s still going strong in the Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. Always a wonderful way to catch some of the best quirky acts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival handpicked by our gorgeous host.

Ali delights us with her spine tingling takes on gorgeous songs in between reclining on her Chaise Longue to enjoy the work of her Guests.  The Guests are mostly inclined towards Cabaret, clever circus or quirky standup. Ali is supported by a delightful Jazz band who enjoy the show as well.

We had current cabaret sensation Gillian Cosgrove doing a few numbers at the piano, including one about yoga. She’s fabulous and my friend has recently become a massive fan since seeing her current show at the festival.Ali McGregor's Variety Night

Jan Van de Stool, a character who would not be out of place in an episode of Kath and Kim, who usually apparently teaches singing, provides a little variety by dragging two teams of audience members on stage and have them compete at peeling and eating an apple. The joke was that this was an actual game described in a vintage “Party Games for Adults” book and it was as stupid and pointless as it sounds. Jan doesn’t do this in her own show which is a relief, but the audience enjoyed it and she carried it off.

Mario Queen of the Circus was Queen’s biggest fan and is a much sharper level of comedy character. Dressed as Freddy Mercury, an outrageous flirt and brilliant juggler, his act was clever, slick, weird and surprisingly wildly entertaining.

Tim Vine pummelled us with an avalanche of his brilliant one-liners then did the breathtaking Pen Behind the Ear bit with success. Hussah!

The highlight of the evening though, returning to Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, was Asher Treleaven. In the past he has been her faithful butler Saxon McCallister, tonight he was The Sexual Gentleman and gave us the most impressive and sexy juggling (of the diablo) I’ve ever seen and one of his best readings of a Mills & Boon ever. It had the audience, the band and Ali howling with laughter.

It can be really hard to give or take a recommendation for a MICF show worth seeing. It depends on each person’s taste, but if you like your comedy on the offbeat and a bit of top class cabaret you are going to have a great time and hopefully become a fan of a new act and go see their full show.

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night is showing on weekends at The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne

For more informations see the MICF website:


Comedy Xmas Shows Are Coming to Town

By Lisa Clark

All around Melbourne the comedy venues are putting together Christmas shows with more laughs than you’ll find in any Christmas Cracker. We put together a list and you can check it twice. These are all the Christmas shows we know about, coming to Melbourne this December, including some exciting live podcast recordings.


The Bella Union Bar is in a Seriously Festive mood and has a lot of Christmas cheer to offer. Comedy wise there are three main offerings.

Sweetest Plum – How the Plum Stole Christmas 
Podcasters Nick Maxwell and Declan Fay will present their usual razor sharp banter**, with a star-studded line-up of celebrity guests***

**   Razor sharp banter is not guaranteed.
*** Star-studded line-up may just be Gatesy, on a stool, with a guitar
Date: 14th December, 2014
Time: 5:00pm
Price: $20/15



After Dinner Mint Christmas Spectacular By The Lords Of Luxury 
The final After Dinner Mint of the year features:
– Master of the dark arts, David Quirk
– Masters of mayhem, Aunty Donna
– Master of sideburns, Hairy Soul Man aka Kai Smythe
Plus many special guests AND a visit from the one and only Santa Claus!

Hosted by The Lords of Luxury with music from Gillian Cosgriff.

Date: Tuesday December 9
Time: 8:30pm.
Price: Presale $12/9  or $15/10 at the door



A Swinging Bella Christmas 

This will be a musical comedy show with MC Casey Bennetto and his co-host being comedy chanteuse Geraldine Quinn with their band the Bella All Stars. On Thursday 18th the special guests will be Alan Brough and Mike McLeish and on Friday the special guests will be Tripod so you can no doubt go to both and are pretty much guaranteed a sensational time.

Thur 18 Dec 2014
Fri 19 Dec 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Price: $35 Full $30 Group $25 Conc




What The Dickens!

Travel back in time to 1851, to Victorian England and the great age of discovery and storytelling. Created from your suggestions, tales of sweet-hearted heroes, sickly orphans, bumbling constables and winsome ladies are woven into a new, unique Dickensian tale every night.

Play parlour games like Poor Pussy, the Laughing Game and join Melbourne’s finest improvisors for mince pies and some Christmas cheer in the wonderful ‘curiosity shoppe’ that is The Butterfly Club.

Wednesday 17 December 2014    6:00pm
Thursday 18 December 2014     7:00pm
Friday 19 December 2014  7:00pm
Saturday 20 December 2014     7:00pm
Sunday 21 December 2014       6:00pm

Price $28/23



The Comedy Gallery @ Jacksons Christmas 
Jacksons – 8 Jackson Street Toorak

With Marty Fields, Nelson Twins, Andrew Brown, Dale Craig and Mayumi Nobetsu

Date: Tue  16 Dec
Price: $25 SHOW ONLY  $50 MEAL & SHOW – contact details for dinner and show bookings – 9827 8244
Time: 8.30


THE GH HOTEL (formally Greyhound Hotel) St Kilda

Joel Creasey’s Office Christmas Party 

Joel Creasey and special guests share their Christmas tales, disasters and songs. Join Australia’s finest comedians and celebrities at Joel’s office Christmas party!

Seating is unallocated- come down early for some pre-show Christmas cheer!

This is an ALL AGES event however anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Date: Sat 6th December, 2014
Time: 7:00pm (Doors open at 6pm for 7 – 8:30pm show.)
Price: $30 or $33.80 with Booking fee

Bookings through Moshtix http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/joel-creaseys-office-christmas-party/74160


LOCAL LAUGHS presented by Janet A Mcleod 

At The Local Taphouse – 184 Carlisle St StKilda

With Janet’s famous Christmas style, decorations, the inimitable Andrew McClelland as MC and guests who so far include: Matt Elsbury, Rusty Berther, Dilruk Jayasinha and Cal Wilson, it’s sure to be a jolly good wiz bang night.

Date: Mon 22nd Dec
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $15/12




238 Victoria St Melbourne (opposite Queen Vic Market)

The Public Bar Xmas Show

With Steele Saunders, who will be cooking up an all-star mystery line up.

Date: Wed 17 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $5




At The Toff in Town, 252 Level 2 Curtain House Swanston St Melbourne.

Have a Christmas celebration with The Shelf. For three Mondays in December, The Shelf team will be rocking the night away with their final show being Dec 15 (So it must be a Christmas Show)

Hosted by Justin Hamilton and Adam Richard, regulars include Cal Wilson, sketch troupe Aunty Donna and Claire Hooper and there  is always a huge line up of very special guests

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 7.30pm
Price – $25/$30




Spleen Bar, 41 Bourke St Melbourne

Spleen Xmas  Show is having a huge three bracket show that closes with the naming of the 2014 Spleen Comic of the year.


Harley Breen, Oliver Clark, Tommy Little, Greg Larsen, Gary Chook, Xavier Michelides, Nick Cody, Anne Edmonds, Dilruk Jayasinha, Karl Chandler , Steele Saunders and surprise guests!

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: Gold Coin Donation




The Yarraville Club 135 Stephen St, Yarraville.

Yarraville Laughs has two sparkly fabulous Christmas Shows this year.

The 2014 Christmas Cracker 

Sat 13 Dec

Featuring Denise Scott & Fiona O’Loughlin
Plus Special MC Jeff Green (UK)

A top comedy line-up that will sell out fast.

Tickets: www.yarravillelaughs.com

Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

Dinner & Show $100 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $55 (Doors open at 7:30pm)
General Admission $45 (Doors open at 7:30pm)

EFFIE in A Date With Effie – ‘Kiss Me Under The Camel-Toe… Sorry, Mistletoe’ 

Sat December 20

Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

Ticket Options

Dinner & Show $90 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $45 (Doors open at 8pm)
General Admission $35 (Doors open at 8pm)
On the Door $40 (if available)


Also Other Pre Christmas Live Podcast Recordings:

I Love Green Guide Letters 15th Episode Live Spectacular 
At the Last Laugh Comedy Club at the Athenaeum Theatre 188 Collins St Melbourne

With a cast of 1,00s including adorable Channel 9 Newsreader Peter Hitchener

Date: Saturday Dec 6
Time: 3.30pm
Price: $20


Little Dum Dum Club 4th Birthday Show Live 

At Five Boroughs Comedy, 68 Hardware Lane (upstairs), Melbourne.

Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler present the usual dickheadery, tips about fast food outlets and some super special guests. Includes an extra post show by Nick Cody

Date: Sunday, December 7,
Time: 4pm.
Price: $21