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Comedy

Comedy clubs, comedians and comedy festivals in Melbourne

Your ultimate guide to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Comedy

Your ultimate guide to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

It's that time again: when hundreds of funny people vie for your chuckles.

Stand-up comedy nights in Melbourne
Comedy

Stand-up comedy nights in Melbourne

We are so spoiled for choice when it comes to comedy in Melbourne – there's laughs to be had every night of the week, if you know where to look.

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Hannah Gadsby has been a popular live act in Australia for more than a decade, but it wasn't until she announced her retirement from the stand-up stage that she really made her mark. In 2017, the Tasmanian-born comedian opened Nanette in Melbourne, a show which she swore would be her last. But Nanette was no standard stand-up comedy show. Yes, it was funny, but Gadsby's main objective was to deliver a fiery and furious takedown of the heterosexual patriarchy. To do that, she needed to turn her back on the sort of self-deprecating humour she made her career from. The show went on to win her the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's Barry Award, the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Comedy Show, and the Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer. It was then turned into a Netflix special that captured the attention of the world – and still holds an approval rating of 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Now Gadsby is said to have "found her voice" and you'd best believe she'll be using it in her new live show, Douglas. While Nanette was named after a random woman who Gadsby happened to meet, Douglas is named after her beloved dog. Not that you should necessarily expect a show about a dog; instead, Gadsby says that Douglas, like Nanette, inspired her to put pen to paper. Melburnians are lucky enough to get Douglas first, with a run at Arts Centre Melbourne from March 27 to April 7. The show then sets off on a US tour, which even includes a date at the prestigious Kennedy Center

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Melbourne Comedy Festival stars talk mental health and the serious side of funny business
Comedy

Melbourne Comedy Festival stars talk mental health and the serious side of funny business

If you think about it, April might just be the most emotional time of the year for the Melbourne Town Hall. Each night, every one of its rooms – some grand and elegant, others makeshift and cramped – will host a person opening up to strangers. Some will fire out peppy one-liners; others will go deeper, pulling out stories from their lives, spinning them into comedy, and hoping that people will laugh – and maybe even relate. Comedians have the power to break down barriers around issues that we find difficult to discuss, reminding us that we’re not alone. Humour can help us heal. And increasingly, comedians are opening up about difficult periods of their lives and their experiences of mental illness. On television, comedian Maria Bamford sensitively portrays living with bipolar disorder in Lady Dynamite, and in 2014, Eddie Perfect performed a song titled ‘Don’t Kill Yourself’ for a mental health-themed ABC comedy panel show (making the point that you’d miss out on Game of Thrones). On stage, comedians like Felicity Ward speak candidly about anxiety and depression. The Australia-born, UK-based comedian became a mental health advocate in 2014, when she created Felicity’s Mental Mission, an ABC documentary in which she revealed her own struggle with anxiety and interrogated the stigma around mental illness in Australia. As part of the documentary, she also began work on her 2015 stand-up show What if There Is No Toilet? – a candid (and hilarious) journey through her battle with

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Feast on bottomless pasta this winter
Restaurants

Feast on bottomless pasta this winter

Winter means comfort food, and Fatto Bar and Cantina is stepping up to the plate by filling it with delicious, handmade daily, bottomless pasta through the end of June. Yes, that is correct: endless refills of fresh housemade pasta for $30 per person. The caveat is that the whole table must participate, but come on – did you really think you were going to get through all that pasta without help? Dishes include orecchiette (the ear-shaped ones) with broccoli, anchovy, chilli and garlic; tagliatelle (the long, flat ones) with red wine-braised beef shin, pickled chillies and parsley; rigatoni (the tube-shaped ones) with pancetta, tomato, red onion and pecorino; and spaghettini (the long, thin ones) with garlic, chilli and pangrattato breadcrumbs. You (the happy one) will probably be too stuffed for dessert after that, but we suggest enjoying an a signature Espresso Martini or Negroni on the heated terrace with stunning views of the Melbourne city skyline. The special is available from 7.30pm on weekdays and noon on weekends; bookings are required and can be made online or by contacting the restaurant.

Head to Naked Downstairs for their fresh new menu
Restaurants

Head to Naked Downstairs for their fresh new menu

You might know Naked Downstairs as the bar you always walk through to get to the rooftop lounge. But a freshly dropped bar menu is turning this one-time thoroughfare into the final destination for hungry punters. The menu features creative variations on popular bar snacks such as the humble hot dog, which comes with either an  organic beef frank, an organic lamb merguez sausage or, for the truly adventurous, an organic beef-mozzarella-jalapeño banger that’s wrapped in cheese, battered and deep fried. Pro tip: Line your belly with one of those puppies before you get stuck into a flight of infused vodkas and you’re golden. Right now you can sample much of the new menu via some killer specials, including 90 cent oysters during the 5-7pm “social hour” on Thursday and Friday nights. Score a schooner of Stone & Wood, a slider and aioli chips (that’s all your food groups right there) for $9 at lunch or dinner. Or supersize any drink with a $1 slider, either classic beef, slow-roasted brisket, Southern fried chicken, or the black bean cheeseburger. There’s even a chocolate and cream cheese slider for dessert, because everything is better in sandwich form. Naked Downstairs is open from noon until late daily.

Wunderage

Wunderage

Every circus is set up basically the same, right? You take one big top (preferably red and white striped), add a stage for the performers, some seats for the audience and maybe some barriers to separate the two. Circus Oz isn’t one for doing things like everyone else though. Circus Oz is shaking up the rules of circus with Wunderage: an immersive new show with no seats and no barriers between you and the performers. In Wunderage the audience isn’t just watching the show passively from the sidelines – instead they see it unfold all around them. Through mind-boggling physical feats, humour and an inspiring live score, Wunderage treads a tightrope (literally and figuratively) between who we are and who we might become. Step into the performance space and discover a room filled with giant blue boulders and tightropes up to four metres high. The performers move freely throughout the space – it’s hard to predict where they’ll appear next as they effortlessly ride bicycles on highwires, do handstands on teetering towers and flip, twist and somersault off precarious platforms. Try to keep calm as the acrobats twirl majestically in aerial slings and clamber up and down Chinese poles. The show is a collaboration with Brisbane performance art group Company2, who have infused it with the group’s sense of poetic theatricality, humour and fondness for pushing boundaries. Wunderage is a playful, heart-warming show that explores the desire for people to be something they are not. Wun

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Series Mania

Series Mania

Keen to see the best new TV before everyone else? ACMI and Film Victoria are back with the Melbourne version of Series Mania, the sister festival of the highly regarded ten-day French festival (it's known as the Cannes of television).  As ACMI is currently undergoing a huge redevelopment, all screenings will be taking place at the newly refurbished Capitol Theatre on Swanston Street.  Headlining the 2019 festival is the Emmy-nominated creator of Netflix series Jessica Jones, Melissa Rosenberg. You may also recognise Rosenberg as a writer on hit shows like The OC, Dexter and the Twilight franchise. Hear her take a deep dive into her creative process in an exclusive in-conversation event on Friday, July 5 at the Capitol.  The festival kicks off with the world premiere of The Hunting, a new SBS drama starring Asher Keddie and Richard Roxburgh. The four-part drama series navigates the lives of four teenagers, their teachers and families after a nude teen photo scandal. The critically acclaimed UK drama The Virtues will also premiere at Series Mania Melbourne, as well as bittersweet dramedy Frayed. One thing's for sure, Series Mania Melbourne might just reveal your next TV obsession.  Series Mania Melbourne kicks off at the Capitol on July 3. Check out the full program here.

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