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.

The Briefing by Melissa McGlensey

By Lisa Clark 

Most American comedy TV shows are (unsurprisingly) doing satire about the Trump regime, some good, some painful. It is a surprise to find something that feels somewhat fresh, smart with a local angle to it, covering this territory in a more sophisticated way at Melbourne Fringe. Melissa McGlensey plays President Trump’s former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pretty straight. Not quite as bored and terse as the real thing but much more entertaining.

Melissa doesn’t just ape the Press Secretary and repeat variations of her actual words, she has made up some extreme versions of what might be happening in the White House, added Australian angles and thrown in a bit of impro and audience participation to boot. We the audience are playing the part of the “Ladies and Gentlemen of the press” and with my reviewer’s notepad and pen in hand, it wasn’t too hard to play my part. The impro doesn’t feel shoehorned in. It adds to the show and shows off Melissa’s skills. Though, in hindsight it can be a little hard to tell what is real and what is pre-planned and that is part of the magic of showbiz.

The Briefing isn’t simply about making fun of Sarah or Trump, it also pokes fun at dark parts of Australia’s own politics, garnering some gasps and shocked laughs from the audience. Most impressively the show refers to recent political events, for example the burning of the rainforests and even something that had happened the day before. It’s the sort of show that can change and adapt as the news of the world happens. Not every joke is going to land on opening night, but not only do the majority land, there are a lot of big fat guffaws to be enjoyed.

Props must go to Melissa’s director, the tech who made everything go pretty smoothly for a first show and particularly to her side kick an actor who plays her body guard Gumbo quietly and brilliantly. There were a lot of fantastic small details and surprises. It was all a lot of fun.

This is a brilliant example of political comedy. Much better than anything produced by SNL for example. It was particularly impressive considering it was a preview and the 1st time she’s performed it anywhere. There was a bit of a slip of the tongue in this show that proved to be priceless and had everyone falling about. I hope she keeps it in. Melissa also made a quip referring to the noisy hoons of Lygon St that were drowning her out at one part of the show, showing that she’s pretty tough and ready for whatever Fringe throws at her. I hope it throws great audiences and accolades, she deserves it.

Melissa McGlensey performs The Briefing at Universal Restaurant til Sept 24