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Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Photograph: Jim Lee

Melbourne International Comedy Festival reviews

Which shows have us LOLing in the aisles this festival?

By Nicola Dowse
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It's the last week of Melbourne International Comedy Festival but there's still plenty to see. Our reviewers have been sussing out the best of the fest this year, from big names to newcomers to watch out for. These are the best shows for MICF 2021. 

Check out our ultimate guide to the festival, and or read about what four comedians have been up to in the past 12 months – including how they really feel about Zoom gigs. 

Previous 2021 MICF show reviews

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves
Photograph: Supplied /Asha Holmes Publicity

Diana Nguyen: Chasing Keanu Reeves

4 out of 5 stars

Diana Nguyen immediately used her JobKeeper payments to buy a whole lot of vibrators, and that is possibly the best use of the funds we’ve heard so far this pandemic. That joke epitomises the fun, celebratory, unapologetic and compelling show that is Nguyen’s 2021 MICF offering, Chasing Keanu Reeves.

Comedian Sami Shah in white wedding tux in front of pastel floral wallpaper
Photograph: Supplied/MICF

Sami Shah: Cuck

4 out of 5 stars

White people can’t coup for shit. Unlike Trumps hapless clingers-on raiding the Capitol, it involves a little more than being draped in a flag while live streaming your stupidity to social media. That sick burn is the outrageous highlight of a raucous hour in the company of Pakistan-born former ABC radio host and stand-up comedian, Sami Shah.

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Big Big Big: Catching Jack
Photograph: Supplied / Asha Holmes Publicity

Big Big Big: Catching Jack

4 out of 5 stars

The grim chapter in history that is Jack the Ripper serves as inspiration for Big Big Big’s 2021 MICF show, Catching Jack. Dare we say, Catching Jack might even breathe new, humorous life into the gory myth. The Big Big Big trio consists of Ella Lawry, Millie Holten and Madi Savage, plus their absurdist sketch comedy style.

Angus Gordon: The Mole
Photograph: Supplied / MICF

Angus Gordon: The Mole

4 out of 5 stars

Angus Gordon’s The Mole is not a show about a mole. In fact, you may forget completely about the fact that it is about a mole until Angus mentions it, more than halfway through the show, after a series of rambling monologues about his witch sister, agricultural crime, and the defecating habits of homeless Melburnians.

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Darg queen Karen From FInance in an orange suit and huge yellow wig
Photograph: Supplied/MICF

Karen From Finance: is Out of Office

4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the true measure of a stand-up comedian comes in how they handle a heckle. Or a reverse heckle, in the case of working women’s hero Karen From Finance. Melbourne, and indeed the world’s, best-named drag queen spins her entire schtick out of being an obsessive workaholic.

Scout Boxall
Photograph: Supplied / MICF

Scout Boxall: Good Egg

3 out of 5 stars

Scout Boxall’s personality is their hair. It’s a skin-tight rug that circles around their scalp, cutting off above the ear like an ill-fitting beanie – something Scout terms a 360-degree fringe. And previously, when Scout was young, they were fitted with an Amelie-inspired bob-cut and was christened by bullies as ‘egg head’

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Alanta Colley: On the Origin of Faeces
Photograph: Supplied / MICF

Alanta Colley: On the Origin of Faeces

3 out of 5 stars

On the Origin of Faeces opens with Alanta Colley’s story of deciding if she should go back to work in the infectious diseases system or follow her passion of comedy. When she made this choice in early 2020, comedy was genuinely offering her more options...because there wasn’t much infectious diseases work in Australia.

Jude Perl leans on a keyboard
Photograph: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Jude Perl: Participation Award

4 out of 5 stars

Just whose bright idea was it to lock children in a room for 12 years and treat them all exactly the same, no matter their individual talents, interests and needs? And what happens to kids who are not suited to that style of education, or particularly good at the narrow range of subjects taught in that way? Jude Perl has some answers to those questions, putting together a show that’s smart, sharp, just a little bit sad and extremely, riotously funny.

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