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Julian O’Shea: M is for Melbourne: The World’s Mostly* Liveable City

  • Comedy, Comedy festival
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Julian O'Shea standing in front of Fed Square with the Melbourne skyline in the background
Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Comedy meets education as you learn the ABCs of Melbourne with the city’s unofficial hype man

Julian O'Shea cuts a striking figure at his debut Melbourne International Comedy Festival show. The popular online content creator, university lecturer and one-time participant in Moomba’s Birdman Rally strides onto the stage at the DoubleTree by Hilton wearing a brightly coloured road map jumper that resembles those cartoon rugs once found in playrooms across the country (IYKYK). This playful attire, combined with O’Shea’s palpable enthusiasm at the prospect of performing in front of a sold-out crowd, sets the scene for an hour of fun facts, chaotic anecdotes and plenty of laughs.

The premise of O’Shea’s show, M is for Melbourne: The World’s Mostly* Liveable City, is simple: it’s an A to Z of Melbourne, highlighting all that is cool, quirky and kinda weird. It’s also a roll call of reasons why Melbourne is worthy of snatching back its World’s Most Liveable City crown from Vienna (cue a couple of cheeky jabs at the Austrian capital littered throughout the set). 

All the obvious topics are present: F is for the free tram zone, H is for hook turns and M is for the Montague Street Bridge (a “true Melbourne icon”, according to O’Shea). But it’s the slightly left-of-field inclusions that allow for O’Shea’s truly comprehensive local knowledge to shine.

A deep dive into the City of Melbourne’s decision to assign email addresses to all 70,000 of its trees (E is for emailing trees) is as genuinely intriguing as it is funny, and provides O’Shea with an opportunity to tell any audience members with a potential gripe that they should forward it on to his favourite tree on Bourke Street. Then a homage to the failed bicycle-sharing system that took over the city in 2017 (O is for oBikes) becomes hilariously solemn when accompanied by a moving montage of the yellow two-wheelers in various states of disrepair across the city.

As he continues to work his way through the alphabet, O’Shea also reveals Guinness World Record attempts (Q is for quadricycle) and viral opinion pieces that become the catalyst for increased parking fees (T is for truckzillas) – the latter also providing a clever segue into his *cough* interesting pricing model.

If you’ve happened upon O’Shea’s YouTube channel or TikTok account, chances are much of this content may seem familiar. But there’s something to be said about the impact of seeing it live, complete with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, props and take-home presents (yep, every audience member receives a special handmade gift). 

This is feel-good humour with a hefty helping of homegrown trivia – what’s not to love?

 M is for Melbourne: The World’s Mostly* Liveable City, and it’s playing at DoubleTree By Hilton until April 21 – find out more here

Want more? Check out who else is performing at the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Leah Glynn
Written by
Leah Glynn


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