Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards 2015

Well what an amazing Festival it’s been this year. So many shows were on offer (over 500) that it took longer for the Award Committee to get their Nominations ready for announcement. So many we could only touch the surface in our reviews. We try to cover a broad range with a focus on smaller local acts. We’ve all seen a lot of shows and every one of us has put in a lot of voluntary work. We do it for love. Because we are fans of comedy and we want to share our love.

Thanks to the Squirrel Team, to the Melbourne International Festival team for giving Melbourne one of the best Festivals in the world and to the performers who give their hearts and souls to entertain people and bring us joy in many varied and amazing ways.

Awards are difficult. If the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has taught us anything it’s that there are Many different ways to make us laugh; from improvised silent clowning to Musical Comedy supported by a symphony orchestra at Hamer Hall to a solo wordsmith in a spotlight with nothing but their words. How can you say one performer is better than another? Yet it feels good to celebrate excellence and give performers something to aim for.

Honestly any comedian who performed all of their shows and feels good about them and the majority of their audiences is a success. Bravo!

Just a note to let you know that The People’s Choice Award this year was not a vote, as such. It went to the comedian who sold the most tickets.

Our Warmest Congratulations to:

Barry Award (Best Comedy Performer) Winner: Sam Simmons – Spaghetti For BreakfastLaura Davis Ghost

Golden Gibbo Award (Independant & Creative show) Winner: Laura Davis – Ghost machine

Piece of Wood (Peer Voted – Comedian’s Choice): Anne Edmonds You Know What I’m Like!

Director’s Choice Award winner: Matt Okine  – The Other Guy

Peoples choice: Wil Anderson – Free Wil

Funny Tonne (Audience Member seeing the most [over 100] shows): Sarah Trevarthen

And previously announced:

Class Clowns (Teen competition) Winner:  Will Mckenna (14) from Eltham College (VIC)

RAW Comedy (Newcomer competition) Winner: Angus Gordon (QLD), Runner Up: Rohan Ganju (Vic) Special Mentions: Sam Taunton (Vic) & Jess Perkins (Vic)

Deadly Funny National Final Winner: Nina Kirby  (VIC)

The Deadly Mentorship Award Winner: Karen Edwards (QLD)

Matt Okine – The Other Guy

By Noel Kelso Matt Okine The Other Guy

This year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival I have made a conscious decision to see a broader range of comics than in previous years. For me, that means attending performances by some of the more established names rather than limiting my viewing to the smaller shows and venues, and this is proving to be quite an enlightening comedic journey as I discover what makes these other comics so popular.

Yesterday I took myself to Matt Okine’s show ‘The Other Guy’ at The Victoria Hotel after seeing some of his stand-up on a TV show and finding myself wondering why I had never been to see this clearly funny man. This would prove to be a welcome variation in my already eclectic comedy diet with his style falling somewhere between my usual fair of weird and wonderful surrealism and the more straightforward forms of stand-up with feedlines and punchlines.

Okine is known to many people in this country for his work as a host on breakfast radio and this informs the beginning of his show where he talks of people asking him when he needs to be awake; don’t the hours bother him and how crazy it is.

Clearly a confident and polished performer, Okine engages the audience with tales of online trolling, and how social media has made it easier for people to directly let performers know just what they think of them – often in unnecessarily blunt terms. His joy at finally earning a wage which allows him to indulge in luxuries such as eating proper food is wrung for every ounce of humour it is worth.

An important factor in Okine’s appeal is his open and friendly personality which lends an honesty to his performance as he visibly cringes at the thought of some of the things he might say next. This is particularly evident during the central piece which concerns his relationship break-up and reminiscence of early love when at school. The latter in turn leads into some very funny asides on the nature of racism and the apparent differences between how the wealthy and the poor express their racism which had the audience laughing along in thoughtful recognition.

Okine makes excellent use of metaphor throughout his show and has excellent narrative structure, connecting the various parts of the routine smoothly and without the need for awkward segues. His recounting of his attempts to get back into the dating scene using social media are simultaneously hilarious and awful to behold as he details each awkwardly embarrassing misstep and misunderstanding.

The comedic situations mentioned here are not only funny and recognisable, but engender sympathy for the awkwardness and uncertainty of each one. His musings on the nature of body image amused those present whilst also hammering home a few truths.

Overall this is a great piece of comedy from a comic who isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and let his audience see him at his most vulnerable.

Matt Okine – The Other Guy is playing at the Victoria Hotel, Little Collins Street until 19th April.

Matt Okine : Happiness Not Included

By Colin Flaherty

Matt Okine has risen in profile as of late (he’s on JJJ Breakfast, co-hosts ThursdayFC and was on the debut episode of Stand Up @ Bella Union) and after hearing of the acclaim of previous shows and only seeing his short spots, I was curious as to what an hour in his company would be like. The experience can be described in one word – impressive.

Starting out with some gentle banter and various observational routines, he covered topics such as his small role in Neighbours, travelling to the UK, his hatred of clothes shopping and share-house living. Aside from the TV credit, they were rather standard subjects but his colourful descriptions and big stage presence were more than enough keep all interested and laughing heartily. On the surface it appeared to be just a series of random topics save for the frequent exclamations of “I’ve gotta get my life in check!” to link them to the shows’ theme of striving for happiness and how limited finances can create a barrier.

As he reached his climatic story about a messy night at a nightclub to celebrate a well paying job, all the pieces fell into place. Topics covered previously popped up in this story, not just as token call-backs but also some integral parts of the tale giving plenty of context and gravitas. Okine had obviously revised this show to within an inch of its life to ensure that every word had its exact place. This attention to detail paid off with consistent laughter in all the right places.

On stage Okine is thoroughly engaging and energetic. His conversational put everyone at ease and the concepts were universal enough for all to relate. With tricks such as repeating core statements with exaggerated indignation to extract every possible laugh from the line, he had the audience howling throughout. It was almost a masterclass in how themed stand-up should be done.

Happiness Not Included is on at Swiss Club and Melb Town Hall until April 20

5 Good Reasons to see MATT OKINE – Happiness Not Included

1. Because if you don’t, then you’re racist.

2. please refer to point 1.

3. please refer to point 2.

4. please refer to point 3.

5. Because you’re only as good as your last show, and my last show had a sell-out season at MICF 2013, won Best show at Sydney Comedy Festival & was nominated for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’m super excited about my new show, and I know that you’re going to love it. You have to. If you don’t, then you’re probably racist. (nah just jokes. you wouldn’t have clicked on the link if you were racist!)

Matt Okine is performing Happiness Not Included at The Swiss Club

The Aussie Invasion of the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe – Now With Extra Danger!

By Colin Flaherty

It’s almost August and that means Edinburgh Fringe time. Quite a few Australian performers are heading north for a Scottish summer.

Our London based Squirrel Ron will be covering Fringe for us; covering both Australian acts and other performers who may venture to our shores in the future.

A browse of the program reveals some interesting shows from the Aussies. Many comedians are bringing their current shows seen in the Australian festivals including David Quirk with the show that won him the “Piece of Wood Award”. Joint Newcomer winners in 2012, Ronnie Cheing and Matt Okine, are taking their current shows.

Tommy Little, Mel Buttle & Josh Thomas have recently cancelled their Edinburgh runs due to television commitments. Josh is going Hollywood instead, his TV series Please Like Me is being picked up by a new US cable channel Pivot TV which is aimed at young people and will air from August 1st.

Myf Warhurst hosts a chat show Showcatcher that features all manner of festival guests spruiking their festival shows.

Expat Bec Hill is going to be a busy beaver this Festival. She is performing in her own stand up show (Bec by Popular Demand), a two-hander show with Patrick Monahan (Bec Hill and Patrick Monahan’s Hour of Fun!), a children’s sketch show (Bec & Tom’s Awesome Laundry) and is hosting Pun Run, the UK’s only pun-based comedy club.

Yianni has an intriguing concept this year: a series of free shows at The Dram House leading up to a huge ticketed show at Venue150 @ EICC. Will he fill Edinburgh’s largest room?

The 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 02 – 26 August. Shows for 2013 are now on sale!


Here’s the list of shows. If we’ve previously reviewed a show we’ve added the link.

If we’ve missed anyone, please drop us a line.


Adam Hills: Happyism @ Assembly Hall

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night @ Assembly Checkpoint

Alex Williamson @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Bec Hill: Bec by Popular Demand @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Bec Hill and Patrick Monahan’s Hour of Fun! @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Bec & Tom’s Awesome Laundry @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Pun Run (hosted by Bec Hill) @ The Canons’ Gait

Claudia O’Doherty: Pioneer @ Pleasance Courtyard

Damian Clark in G’Damo! @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Daniel Townes – I Think So I’m Ready @ Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Dave Callan: The Psychology of Laughter @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

David Quirk – Shaking Hands With Danger @ Pleasance Courtyard
Here’s our review from MICF 2013 :

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Die Roten Punkte – Kunst Rock (Art Rock) @ AssemblyGeorge Square

Dr Professor Neal Portenza’s Interactive Goat Hour: There are no goats and the show is only 54 minutes long, excluding the bonus minute @ The Dram House Upstairs

Eric Hutton’s Favourite Songs @ Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Evolution of iMaAN @ Laughing Horse @ Espionage

Felicity Ward: Irregardless @ Underbelly, Bristo Square

Hannah Gadsby: Nakedy Nudes (Departs from Assembly Rooms, Bristo Place)

Hannah Gadsby: Happiness is a Bedside Table @ Assembly Roxy
Here’s our review from MICF 2013 :

Instant Order: Trial By Audience (featuring Karin Danger, Scott Gooding, Katie Lockett & Sean Fabri) @ The Dram House Upstairs

Jen Carnovale: Not a Person Person @ Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

Jimeoin: Yes,Yes, Whatever…?! @ Venue150 @ EICC

John Robertson – The Dark Room @ Underbelly, Cowgate

Jon Bennett: My Dad’s Deaths @ Underbelly, Cowgate

Karin Danger: Hot Box @ Just the Tonic at The Caves ​

KelFi & FiKel @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Lisa-Skye – Ladyboner @ C venues – C nova
Here’s our review from MICF 2012 :

Matt Okine: Being Black & Chicken & S#%t @ Underbelly, Bristo Square

Not Suitable for Drinking (Sydney sketch trio) @ Ciao Roma

Ronny Chieng: The Ron Way @ Underbelly, Cowgate

Rob Lloyd: Who, Me @ Just The Tonic at Bristo Square

Showcatcher (hosted by Myf Warhurst) @ Assembly George Square

Storytellers’ Club @ Pleasance Courtyard

Unmanageable (Featuring expat Kim Hope) @ Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

Yianni in Think Big @ The Dram House & Venue150 @ EICC

Set List : Stand-Up Without A Net

By Lisa Clark

In a short time (only a couple of years) Set List is becoming an exciting must see for comedy fans and a must do for Stand up artists. Created by Americans Troy Conrad and host Paul Provenza (famous for the Aristocrats film and TV show The Green Room with Paul Provenza), it’s a sort of Theatresports for stand up performers and has become a fixture at both the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Last year it was on very late at night, this year it’s been brought forward a little, so it doesn’t clash with Festival Club and it’s easier to get to for those who’d prefer an early night.

A set list is more commonly known as a list of songs performed by a band, for a comedian it’s a list of words or phrases referring to practiced comedy routines that they plan to do for their set, something never usually seen by an audience (unless you glimpse the backs of their hands). At Set List the list is generated for them by the Set List Team and a random phrase pops up on a big screen where the comedians see it for the first time and has to make up a routine around it on the spot.

Like Theatresports or the circus watching it can be as thrilling and terrifying for the audience as it is for the performer. Audiences are encouraged to take part by adding ideas on small slips of paper to the suggestion box which the comedian can reach for during their routine if stuck for an idea. Paul also encourages the audience to join in by not being a Dick. In other words, we’re there to support the comedians and enjoy the fun, rather than heckle and jeer and make it more difficult for them. It encourages a great vibe and a good time can be had by all.

It’s pretty unfair almost pointless to review the performers themselves as there are going to be vast differences depending on the comedian’s experience at improvisation, experience at Set List and the topics they are given. For example a comedian had to cope with a word they clearly didn’t know the meaning of. Generally though, all the performers coped really well and the laughs were pretty much non-stop even if they were occasionally for the wrong reason. Some started strongly on an adrenaline high then gradually lost momentum, possibly from thinking too hard and others started slowly and warmed into it. The latter included Set List virgin Matt Okine who enjoyed explaining why Ski-ing = Racism and veritable veteran Wil Anderson who was gifted the topic Gay Time of the month and could barely be restrained from cracking out line after line about homosexuality and ice-creams.

To give you a taste of the ride we enjoyed that night, we were treated to Felicity Ward with her Heroin vs Crack Insights, Simon Munnery who effortlessly explained the ‘3 Types of Serial Killers I support’, a nervous Celia Pacquola tackled ‘Genocide Sensitivity’ in a surprising and clever way, and Ronny Chieng, as cool and smooth as ever, tried to get ‘8 people to join Scientology.’

This is a fantastic experience for comedy nerds as well as a broadly entertaining show for casual punters to take a group of friends to. There’s bound to be a laugh in this for anyone out to have a good time, only remember don’t be dicks!

Set List is on at The Victoria Hotel