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.

Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special

By Lisa Clark Yada Yada Yada

Yada Yada Yada is a hilarious nostalgic walk down memory lane of 90s sitcoms. Fran Fine and her grandma Yetta from The Nanny are hosting a TV variety show and for anyone who loved watching comedies in the 90s this show ‘s da bomb!

Green Room Award winning Jude Perl is a tremendous cabaret talent who mentioned in her show Complete Breakfast what a massive fan of Yetta from the 90s sitcom The Nanny she is. In Yada Yada Yada she gets to play tribute by dressing up and singing as her. Jude has written all the clever, hilarious songs that they sing. Playing Fran Fine is Lauren Edwards who comes from a background of musical theatre and is a super talented singer and charismatic performer. They make for a delightfully endearing duo who banter and play off each other well, as well as blending their singing voices beautifully.

Yada Yada Yada is a show within a show. Jude and Lauren have cleverly organised the production like a TV recording where they drop character during the ad breaks but instead of becoming Fran Drescher or Anne Guilbert they become Jude and Lauren, directly addressing the audience and each other in their own voices. The show within the show is broken up into nostalgic songs, chat and games with some audience participation. All of it works beautifully and the audience are keen to join in on the fun. It’s not often I advocate for more audience participation, but letting the audience shout out the ends of catchphrases and encouraging more singalongs would probably be enthusiastically appreciated.

This was a one off performance at Melbourne Fringe, sadly, but clearly has legs and I’m sure would gain many fans if repeated in the future.

Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special was on at Lithuanian Club – Main Theatre


A Year’s Round Up and 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.

It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season.  This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly.  There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.

Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.

Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.

Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am?  There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.

Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.


5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016
Zoe Coombs Marr
1.  Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.

(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)



2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.


Zanzoop pic

3. Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.


4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder) – with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show.Michael Williams 2016 A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!


5. True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus. True Australian Patriots


Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X


The Astruds: Rent (is Due)

By Lisa Clarkastruds

The Astruds are a musical duo with a show full of great songs, beautiful singing and lots of laughs. Sarah Wall & Freya Long could easily have chosen to be a straight music duo but they have chosen the more interesting comedy song path and they have chosen well.

Opening with Sarah strumming her guitar wearing headphones sitting on the floor in a living room, there is a sense that the Astruds are letting us into their  twenty-something world of life after an arts degree, in a share house on the dole. For anyone who’s older and been there, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from the nostalgia, little has changed. Many performers pick a theme and try to shoehorn their non-theme material into it, but The Astruds stay on theme throughout, illustrating their world with songs like “Give me a Job”, “I’m wearing Grandma’s rags”, “The Centrelink Blues”, “When Will I be a Celebrity?” and “Where does the money go” and the lyrics are clever and funny.

The Astruds main inspiration clearly comes from Garfunkle & Oates and Flight of The Conchords in song style, gentle melodic harmonies and also a grunge aesthetic, but then this grungey style may have been specifically implemented to fit in with the show’s theme. The grand finale shows they can do sazzy showbiz and they sprinkle some minor cute costume additions throughout. These are taken on by Sarah and include grandma’s robe for “..Grandma’s Rags”, a Tutti Fruity hat for the charming Brazillian inspired “Fruit Song” and finally a decoupaged sparkly hat with a tribute to Queen B (which I couldn’t see clearly up the back) whom I assumed was Beyonce, but the song “Chocolate” was clearly based on the tune to “Toxic” by another “B” Britney Spears. It had the audience laughing a lot which is the main thing.

Sarah and Freya are very good comedy song writers who only need to put more work into their appealing on stage personas and in-between song banter to have a top comedy festival show on their hands. They need to fearlessly commit to the anger and frustration of sharehouse conflict and dealing with passive aggressive housemates, this helps give the show more dramatic interest and colour. The comedy writing in the songs is so good that comedy banter between the songs should be a piece of cake! My other advice would be for the duo to tell us their names at the top and let us get to know them (or at least the stage version of them) a bit more.

Australia has produced some of the best musical comedy in the world and I’ve been waiting for the new wave of musical comedy talent for a while. Earlier this year I was astonished by the musical comedy talent of Jude Perl and now I’m impressed by The Astruds. Sarah Wall & Freya Long are excellent musicians with gorgeous harmonising voices and funny songs to sing. Things are looking good for musical comedy.

The Astruds perform Rent (is Due) at The Butterfly Club til Sept 18


Jude Perl : Part Of This Complete Breakfast

By Lisa ClarkJude Perl

Jude Perl is an extraordinarily talented musical comedian. She’s an amazing singer full stop. She could have been a great pop singer but something is urging her to write comedy songs and I encourage that urge, for it is an excellent urge, the sort of urge that drives great comedians and I suspect she is destined for Greatness.

There is no patter up front, Jude Perl opens with what she does best, an original musical comedy song at the piano. They are not simple one joke songs. She packs a lot of jokes and laughs into each song and all are highly intelligent, cynical and toe tapping. I can’t help but draw comparisons with the first time I saw Tim Minchin or Geraldine Quinn and was completely blown away by their talent.

Jude’s show is about having to bow down to commercial interests to make money while dreaming of a more artistically rewarding recording contract. She writes (very funny) jingles for the (fake) Sugar O company who have paid for her album and her comedy festival show. Other songs are about love, trying to please others and how hard it is to be a decent person in a pretty screwed up world. She also manages to sing impressive harmony with several incarnations of herself.

It’s a simple setting with Piano for playing her songs on and a stand up mic for the stand up comedy between songs. Some of the stand-up is part of the sort-of-plot as she yacks with the disembodied (pre-recorded) voice of her manager. The highlight for me was her material about the creepiness of the people who decided to make Law & Order SUV or the Saw movies (let alone those who are keen to watch). Very sharply observed and very funny, she has a natural comedic voice.

The only negative was the positioning of the piano (which is always going to be a difficult hurdle) meant that not only was she hard to see but we didn’t get to see the two fabulous costumes she changes into properly. The boob dress (yes it’s a dress covered in boobs) can be seen in her youtube video for ‘Pop Singer’ a fabulous song about society’s expectations of modern female pop singers. I was a little disappointed not to see any of her very professional looking pre-recorded comedic video ads for Sugar Os as part of the show (She made them as promos for her show, why not put them in it?). In the end though she doesn’t need them, there is definitely enough here for the audience to be wowed by.

Jude was a RAW finalist in 2014 and has only been doing comedy for a couple years. She has the talent, comedic nous and stagecraft of someone who’s been doing it for a lot longer. If she’s this great now, I think she’s heading for inevitable stardom.

Jude Perl Part Of This Complete Breakfast at The Butterfly Club Wednesdays and Sundays at 10pm


5 Good reasons to see Jude Perl: Part Of This Complete Breakfast

1. Jude has been funded by The Sugar Co, so the show will have

really high production value*

That’s right! Jude has sold her music and brand to a sugar company

and now they are controlling everything she does. They have funded

her album and her shows and you know when a giant, heartless

corporation are backing an artistic project, nothing could possibly go

wrong or be misinterpreted! More info here:

*Due to budget complications, no actual funding has gone into the

production value of this show

2. You will feel better about yourself

Because Jude no longer has any integrity since she’s become a puppet

for a sugar company, watching a complete sell-out for an hour will

undoubtedly make you feel so much better about yourself, no matter

what situation you are in

3. The Butterfly Club is properly one of the most ambient places to

hang out at

This venue is perfect for trying to impress a date with it’s romantic

lighting and quirky décor, or maybe you’re catching up with a friend who

you haven’t seen in a long time and you’re worried you won’t have

much to talk about, and you’ll say “so what have you been up to?” and

they’ll say “yeah just working and I moved last month so been busy with

that” and you say “oh cool” and then it goes really quiet and no one

says anything for a while. Well, at Butterfly Club there is so much stimuli

in every corner of the venue, you will never be at a loss for things to be

distracted by and look at and go “oh wow, look at that portrait of one of

the guards from Jabba’s palace!” Conversation revitalized. Thank you

Butterfly Club

4. Jude is launching her debut album with this show, but the songs

in this show are not on the album, and this will be the only way

you can hear them for quite a while

Jude is already a prolific songwriter. She is launching an album that is

available here: www.judeperl.bandcamp.com But the album doesn’t

have her music comedy tracks. Her comedy has been described as:

“Insanely clever and comical songwriting. Her lyrics are insightful

and hilarious because of their honesty, and her talent for writing

hugely enjoyable music only makes the comedy stronger.” –

Melbourne Observer

“Extremely entertaining and honest comedy at it’s musical best. If

good comedy and good music is your recipe for a good night out

then this show is a must” – Theatre Press

“what makes Jude so brilliant is that her songs are simply so

funny.” -Illegitimate Theatre

You must attend this show in order to see her acclaimed comedy and

songwriting and to hear the full story behind the album she is launching.

You will not be disappointed, unless something really disappointing

happened the same day you see the show, and that’s hardly Jude’s

fault, unless it was something Jude did, in which case she’s really sorry

and promises to not do it again, unless it’s something she does all the


5. Jude is unable to give you a 5th reason as she is contractually

obligated to mention The Sugar Co again, so please enjoy these

advertisements for some of their amazing products from over the


Sugar-Oh’s (1951) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L97yL4uemCU

Sugar Stuff (1986) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViFuWYm0pxg

SugarHope (2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miv0X8Opybs

 Jude Perl: Part Of This Complete Breakfast is on Wednesdays and Sundays only at The Butterfly Club

For more Info go to the MICF website:http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/part-of-this-complete-breakfast-jude-perl