Melbourne International Comedy Festival reviews

Which shows have us rolling in the aisles this festival?
WIL ANDERSON 2017 CRITICALLY WIL
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How do you even start to navigate your way through the 600+ acts at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival? Our reviewers are here to help, with recommendations and incisive commentary.

Check out our ultimate guide to the festival, and see the best local and best international acts making an appearance. And if stand-up isn't your style, there's plenty of cabaret, circus and theatre on offer at the festival.

The verdict

1
Helen Bidou
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Comedy festival

Helen Bidou: Enter the Spinnaker Lounge

I didn’t write any words down in the Spinnaker Lounge – the fictional late-night bar in which fictional late-night outrage Helen Bidou performs a cabaret-infomercial. This is for two reasons. First, there is laughter so physical it destroys all motor control. Second, a show like this can never be evoked in words.

Time Out says
2
Betty Grumble in Love and Anger
Photograph: Suzanne Phoenix
Comedy

Betty Grumble: Love & Anger

Betty Grumble zips up her pants and says how it’s funny what some people think is indecent. Some people think women’s bodies are indecent, especially women’s naked bodies – and don’t get them started on those bodies shamelessly feeling and giving pleasure.

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3
Celia Pacquola All Talk 2018 MICF photo supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Celia Pacquola: All Talk

“This show may not be for everyone,” says Pacquola at the close of a show I soon prescribe to everyone. Or, everyone in the memory of my phone. Of all moments that make the hour, there was just this one that didn’t seem to fit. If I’d seen Pacquola that night, I’d have told Pacquola that night, “This show is for everyone, you superbly gifted fool!”

Time Out says
4
Neal Portenza 2018 MICF
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy

Neal Portenza: Fafenefenoiby II – Return of the Ghost Boy

Neal Portenza fans never miss a new Neal Portenza show. Everyone should trust Neal Portenza fans because the unfettered joy – and roller-coaster-about-to-plummet fear – of being in his audience is enough to make the most cynical of us feel like we’re eating birthday cake with our most beloved childhood pets.

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5
WIL ANDERSON 2017 CRITICALLY WIL
Comedy, Stand Up

Wil Anderson: Wilegal

It wasn't just Wil Anderson's mates who assumed his arrest post-flight to Wagga Wagga last June was weed-related. The incident made national news, and with Anderson famously candid about his marijuana use to treat osteoarthritis, a drug bust seemed the obvious go-to.

Time Out says
6
Rhys Nicholson Seminal 2018 MICF supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Rhys Nicholson: Seminal

A sporting reference mightn’t be the most appropriate, but watching Rhys Nicholson in full flight is a little like watching a batsman hit six after six after six in a speedy 20/20 cricket match. (Apologies if that reference makes little sense – I know about as much about sport as Rhys.) But there’s an extraordinary driving energy to his stand-up sets, and he leaves everything he has on the pitch.

Time Out says
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7
Zoe Coombs Marr: Bossy Bottom MICF 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Zoë Coombs Marr: Bossy Bottom

Just jokes. That’s what Zoë Coombs Marr is promising this year. No theatre stuff, no gimmickry and no characters. Basically none of that silly, distracting meta stuff that won her the Barry Award for best show at the comedy festival back in 2016. 

Time Out says
8
PO PO MO CO
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Variety

PO PO MO CO in Nosfer-Arse-Tu: A Cheeky Vampire Pantomime

If you’d prefer to preserve your wholesome childhood memories of pantomimes, then it’s best you don’t see the new show by PO PO MO CO (Post-Post Modern Comedy). But if you’re into the idea of your “he’s behind you!”s served with generous helpings of camp, bum sex, cunnilingus and arse puppetry, then get yourself to Trades Hall as quickly as possible.

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9
Lano and Woodley: Fly Melbourne Comedy Festival 2018
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy

Lano and Woodley: Fly

It’s been 12 years since Colin Lane and Frank Woodley last performed together as the wildly popular comedy act Lano and Woodley. They split up back in 2006 after two decades to ensure that their real-life friendship wouldn’t suffer from spending every waking second working together. It seems the time apart has served them very well.

Time Out says
10
Cindy Salmon: Empowerful MICF 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy

Cindy Salmon: Empowerful

Cindy Salmon is determined to change the world. Almost since her immaculate conception, she’s been high kicking glass ceilings, hat stands’ windpipes and anything that stops women from controlling their own lives. Hat stands are men. 

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