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.
It’s two years since our Hannah Gadsby thought she was leaving comedy with her show Nanette. That didn’t work. She’s now living in LA, has a stylist, and has been seen by millions on Netflix. She’s come home to Melbourne to premiere her new show, Douglas. It’s sold out.
Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson is now 29. It’s a bit of a funny age actually – you’ve got most of the trappings of adulthood, and for all intents and purposes are doing all the things that an adult does.
There’s a long tradition of queer stand-up comedians using their painful experiences as a young person as fodder for jokes. There’s something about growing up outside of society’s norms that makes you question those norms and stretch their limits. Which is, coincidentally, exactly what a lot of comedy is built on.
You could be forgiven for thinking Daniel Sloss was racist, homophobic and sexist. Certainly the rising Scottish stand-up star gives off that “vibe” and he’s totally willing to tread the line of acceptability when it comes to jokes on touchy subjects.
According to Steph Tisdell, our world is arranged into pyramids. There are pyramids sorting us by socioeconomic status. There are pyramids sorting animals into their place on the food chain. There are pyramids telling us how much we should have of different types of food.
Tom Gleeson’s Joy feels like a throwback. With gags about 1980s telephone exchanges, references to Ossie Ostrich, and a derisive dig at the wave of stand-up that demands a ‘narrative journey’, Gleeson positions himself here as an old school comedian.
A veritable staple of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Canadian-American comic DeAnne Smith is back in a spirited show that she herself cheekily dubs a "non-stop romp of hilarity".
When most people win the prestigious Barry Award for best show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, they immediately move into more “important” rooms and find a mainstream audience. That’s not the case for Sydney comedian Sam Campbell.
Justin Hamilton has been working in comedy since the mid-1990s. He’s done a lot of great stand-up. He’s also regularly hung stand-up up by its ears and created, written and directed remarkably beautiful storytelling that couldn’t exist without stand-up.
Five years ago Joshua Ladgrove had long hair and a long beard and tied himself to a cross during the Comedy Festival so we could Come Heckle Christ. Ladgrove’s more famous character is Neal Portenza and last year he put on Portenza’s red beret and lipstick for the final time and said goodbye to comedy.
With over 600 shows, it’s easy to choose TV-famous comedians. And when you’ve paid a fair whack to sit behind hundreds of fans, it’s easy to wish you’d seen them when they started out.
Pax Assadi’s family must be either willing or unknowing sacrificial lambs because absolutely no one gets a pass in his show. But even though he pokes fun at his father, mother, wife, children and hirsute, gold chain-wearing grandfather (insult the chains at your own peril), Assadi’s particular style of comedy is more heart-warming than soul-destroying.
Comedy festival: a month when stand-ups explain why working in the arts is the worst.But Things Are Going Well for Geraldine Hickey.
By the end of English comedian Jordan Brookes’ Bleed, you may find yourself asking: what did I just witness? It’s certainly not the type of thing you could explain to a friend, let alone explain why it works.
Wil-Informed is all about crisis: mid-life, climate, identity and more. With savage intelligence and rapid-fire riffing, Wil Anderson confronts humanity head-on. He zeroes in on tech-fears, toxic masculinity and rage-culture, while simultaneously questioning just what a straight, white dude like himself could possibly impart on such topics.
Melbourne’s The Very Good Looking Initiative continue their sophisticated observations of society in Poopie Tum Tums. I’m not joking. It’s far more than bad acting in hats and a sketch about getting fingered at the year ten social.
Yes, Flo and Joan are real sisters. And yes, they think the recorder is quite a cool instrument, love writing comedy songs and think Brexit is a terrible idea ("welcome to every one of you, but if you're a Brexit campaigner you can do what you do best and leave," they sing in their opening number).
There aren’t many people who manage to rack up 13 driving offences over the course of just five years, but Nina Oyama is well ahead of the curve.
David O'Doherty has the best Brexit joke I've yet heard at this year's Comedy Festival. And that is really saying something, as all of the British and Irish comedians — and some of the Aussies — are mining this rich vein (nothing like economic suicide for lighthearted laughs, hey?).
Judd Apatow has called her "the funniest woman on Earth", and Maria Bamford is one of the most hotly anticipated tickets of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Judith Lucy has been a fixture in Australian stand-up for three decades now, and her audience have got to know her pretty well in that time. So it makes sense that in her latest show, Judith Lucy vs Men, she’s putting her life in the hands of a crowd.
Dane Simpson faced a dilemma in his mid-thirties. He was happily living in Wagga Wagga and working as a social worker. But one night he told a joke on stage and soon became a finalist in the Deadly Comedy competition and performed in Aborigi-LOL at last year’s comedy festival.
Just as some shows are hurt by a timeslot that is too early, some really benefit from a late slot. Anne Edmonds is performing at the Lower Town Hall, in a room with a bar, at 9.45pm (8.45pm on Sundays), and by that time her audience is fired up and ready to laugh.
If you tilt your head in the right direction, Shakespeare’s grand gothic tragedy Macbeth could look a bit like a slapstick comedy of bad manners. I mean, you’d have to tilt it pretty far in that direction, but physical theatre outfit Company 13 have gone some way to show us what it might look like.
In Fiona O’Loughlin’s last show, Gap Year, she spoke extensively about a series of horrifying experiences she went through in 2016. They aren’t exactly the sort of stories you expect one of the country’s most beloved comedians to be able to tell when they should be at the peak of their career.
Most of us are pretty reluctant to talk publicly or in too much detail about periods. As with much that happens with our bodies – and specifically women’s bodies – there’s significant societal shame attached.
Anyone new to the comic stylings of Miles Munn, or who may have accidentally stumbled up from Lonsdale St on a whim, might be forgiven for mistaking him for the most awkward of rookies.
Anybody who gets saddled with a pre-7pm slot at the Melbourne Comedy Festival has got a tough task ahead. People are stumbling in from work, are probably pretty sober, and mightn’t have felt the spirit of comedy move through them just yet.
"A lot of people don't like me," Michelle Wolf tells her MICF audience. "I've learned that in the last year." One of those people is the president of the United States, who tweeted that Wolf was a "filthy 'comedian'" who "totally bombed".