Tag: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

REVIEW: Cameron James and Jared Jekyll in PARADISE

Don’t be misled by the picture…

By Margaret Wieringa

Being asked by the usher, ‘Have you got a ticket to Paradise?’ was one of my favourite non-show moments of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival – and what a way to kick off an hour of comedy. By the time I left the room, I was exhausted from laughing.

The premise is that Cameron James and Jared Jekyll are a comedy duo who are invited by a mysterious character to perform at PICF – Paradise Island Comedy Festival. Knowing nothing about it, they head off on an adventure that turns mysterious and dangerous, and it is possible not everyone will return. And there may need to be a hilarious pretend memorial partway through the show.


Once on the island, the pair confront a number of interesting characters including the voodoo chief who shouts in a gibberish cross between rap and the Haka which is translated by another tribe member into a bizarre reggae number. Oh, and there’s the horny heir to the millionaire owner of the island. And not to forget the voyeuristic jungle animals…

These guys are great. Funny, affable and very talented. The show kicks off with their new song, Addiction, which involves some funky guitar, an awful lot of beat-boxing and mime. Big and hilarious mime.

The duo are still relatively new to the comedy world: after coming up through RAW Comedy in 2012 and 2013, Jekyll and James have been busy playing festivals and gigs across the country. It is very difficult to raise yourself above the crowd in a comedy festival with nearly five hundred shows, especially when your time-slot is at 11pm. Yet despite their frankly appalling image in the festival guide, the Locker Room was packed. The audience loved the show, rocking the room with laughter and eagerly participating whenever asked to.

It is fabulous that MICF sees so many familiar names returning and big names coming from overseas, but often my favourite moments come from seeing an act for the first time. Especially when it is an act that clearly has a lot to offer, and hopefully a big future in comedy. It’s a small room and a late night, but Paradise is more than worth the investment.

Venue: Portland Hotel – Locker Room
Dates: 27 March – 19 April (Thurs, Fri and Sat nights) 11pm
Tickets: $20 full, $15 conc
Bookings: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/, 1300 660 0131300 660 013 or at the door


The writing’s on the wall…

By Myron My

Performing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Public Toilets, Private Words takes a look at just what its title proclaims. The inspiration for the whole comedy cabaret-esque show is taken from graffiti found scrawled on toilet cubicles, including that of the venue in which they are performing: La Mama Theatre. It’s because of this that the show has been able to constantly evolve and grow over time as different graffiti is found and different actors are able to bring different ideas to the show.

Public Toilets Private Words

This season’s performers – Tom Albert, Caitlin Armstrong and Eloise Maree (the creative producer of Public Toilets, Private Words since its creation in 2011) – have brilliant banter, and the interaction with the audience feels genuine and not at all contrived. Whenever artists are breaking that wall with audience members, it opens them up to unpredictability and the cast manage this with aplomb and an easy casualness that makes them all very likeable.

The three work with various ideas stemming from the graffiti of public restrooms such as theories as to why people choose to graffiti toilets in the first place, and then take a humorous look-back at the history of toilet graffiti. This is intermixed with monologues and thoughts pertaining to the topic at hand, which sometimes get a bit too serious for a show in a comedy festival. Even with their acknowledgement of the irony, these interludes feel out of place.

The artists are a talented trio: Albert plays a variety of musical instruments and the obvious singing ability of all three help support the various types of songs they perform. My highlight of the evening though would be the ‘dance’ number to Swan Lake – very enjoyable to watch.

As a comedy show, Public Toilets Private Words does not always hit the mark. The humour is often side-stepped and the laughs are not plentiful. However as a performance piece, it is an interesting concept and a unique show, which brings depth to an idea that most people would not even think twice about.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton
Season: Until 13 April | Wed, Fri 6pm, Thurs, Sat 9pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
or 9347 6142

REVIEW: Homos in Kimonos for MICF

Double bill of cabaret boys for this year’s festival

By Jessica Cornish

Among the many shows for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, having a catchy title and a great gimmick are essential, and this comic double act featured two solo cabaret performances, linked by the fact that both men were dressed in kimonos and suffered from alter-egos taking over their shows every now and then.

The night was launched by Will Hannagan, whose hour-and-a-bit of shenanigans was a little hard to follow at times, but was highly entertaining none the less. He had a stunning voice that had a lot of depth to it, good articulation, and indulged in quirky physical snippets throughout the performance.

Homos in Kimonos

Some of the evening’s funniest moments were when Will slipped into tales of real-world experiences from his time spent in Paris, to a few truths about his life with his boyfriend. His show jumped between personas: he has a deep obsession with and love for his drag-alter ego, Mother Marxist, which must ultimately be destroyed in an unexpected twist of crowd participation.

The performance was accompanied by three-piece band, Scrimshaw Four. Not only did Scrimshaw Four provide musical backing for the evening, they also interacted with Will which added a new level to the performance. The idea worked very well, and the musicians worked hard, and no doubt as the season continues the music will continue to tighten up.

Unfortunately Will was in shadow for much of his performance as he was too far down stage , so while his band were permanently illuminated, he was not. This is easily fixed, and Will definitely deserves to be in the limelight throughout.

James Halloran was the second featured artist of the night, and is making his Melbourne debut performance. His show also involved alter-egos, as James faced the battle of ‘the Halloran’ taking over. However, I can’t really tell you much more, as I confess I didn’t really understand his performance.Unfortunately with the acoustics of the room, it was quite difficult to understand what he was singing about due to a loud keyboard and projection issues. Also at this stage, the stories linking the songs are not very clear. As the season progresses I hope James builds up more confidence in his obvious abilities and is able to showcase them more successfully, as I distinctly feel that he is capable of delivering a much stronger performance both vocally and dramatically.

Homos in Kimonos will be playing at the quirky venue The Baron Said, hidden off Kerr St in Fitzroy. This beautiful space reminded me of a mini art-deco warehouse. It’s slightly tricky to find, and parking was a little challenging- so make sure you give yourself an extra 15 minutes to find a park and the venue, or better still, catch public transport!

12 Shows 01 Apr – 13 Apr
Tue-Sun 8pm

Full $25
Concession $20
Tightarse Tuesday $18

Bookings and information: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/homos-in-kimonos-will-hannagan-james-halloran-in

REVIEW: Bryony Kimmings in SEX IDIOT

May contain brutal songs, outrageous stories and hilarious sex scenes

By Narelle Wood

Sex Idiot was brilliantly funny, but the content of the show justified its 10.45pm time-slot for MICF 2014 and is certainly not one for the kiddies. Much of Bryony Kimmings’ show cannot be described without a barrage of euphemisms for sex or heavy censorship. It is safe to say when the blurb in the media release describes the show as an ‘unapologetic account of female sexuality in the 21st century’, it is in no way lying.

Sex Idiot

Kimmings’ unabashed and extremely physical performance, along with her seemingly sweet exterior and brutal honesty, that makes this show not only work, but incredibly funny and only, perhaps, a little bit offensive. She recounts her experiences of finding out she has an STI and the journey she then embarks upon to discover who she contracted it from. Her promise to those who helped her solve the mystery was a piece of art to be used in the performance. As a result we were treated to songs, poetry, interpretative dance and an audience participatory art piece that was perhaps more a warning about risk-taking behaviours than the resulting art.

This show is very well-constructed and Kimmings’ persona means she naturally endears herself to the audience. But while the show is extremely funny, it is also very poignant and a little sad; I walked away feeling as though I had laughed through a very honest lesson about love, sex and life.

Highlights of the show included the juxtaposition between what I’ll call the ‘Cup of Tea’ song and the song about how Kimmings’ would deal with a cheating boyfriend; one sweet, the other violent but both showcasing Kimmings’ slightly unhinged view of relationships in a way that is both charming and disturbingly familiar.

Sex Idiot is not a show for the prudish or faint-hearted. But if you like a voyeuristic romp through someone else’s sex-life and the resulting STI warning then Bryony Kimmings’ Sex Idiot is right up your alley.

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall
Season: 10.45pm 3rd, 4th and 5th April
Tickets: $25
Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au


Gentle and genial international comedy

By Narelle Wood

This little comedy show for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival had me intrigued from the beginning, mostly because CJ Delling is German, and I always figured that a German comedian was something of a cultural oxymoron. My reality shifted a little bit, as I was easily proved wrong; of course Germans can be funny and this German was funny in a particularly endearing, sweet kind of way.

Reality Bandit

CJ’s comedy provided more giggles than jolly belly laughs as she proceeded to ponder her experiences of moving to Australia, getting to stage four in learning English, competing on the Welsh version of Wheel of Fortune and the highs and lows of being a surf-life saver.

The funniest parts, which I find with most comedians, is when they are self-deprecating. These small moments littered through out the show, often seemed more natural and off the cuff than some of the anecdotal stories that were funny but came across a little contrived at times. It may have had something to do with the pacing of the jokes; sometimes the delivery was quick and punchy and other times the story took a while to develop, which meant that the joke became a little more predictable.

The links between the jokes and stories tended to be a touch tenuous, but when the connections were made, for example in the recurring theme of the British Museum, they were done so very well. Most of the jokes hit their mark and CJ did extremely well in the intimate atmosphere to interact and involve the audience in a number of her stories. I do have one gripe though; she never finished telling us the running shoe story. Even though it was only a small piece of a much larger show, it had the promise of being really funny.

While the show’s blurb doesn’t accurately portray what the show is about, Reality Bandit is observational comedy at its sweetest and I could not help but walk out with a smile on my face and thinking that CJ is possibly one of the most endearing German comedians I’m ever likely to meet.

Venue: The Bull and Bear Tavern, 347 Flinders Lane
Season: Wed – Sat 2nd – 12th of April 6.30pm
Tickets: $18 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au or at the door

REVIEW: Slutmonster and Friends for MICF

You NEED to see this show

By Myron My


That is all I can say after having seen Slutmonster and Friends. That, and “I need to wash my brain.” Returning to the stage for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, this is definitely the craziest show you will see.

Slutmonster and Friends

The lights come on and the music starts playing in this land of cheerful and brightly coloured trees and bushes. Upon closer inspection you notice that some of the flora is not quite right. To say more would be to ruin the surprise. Once Slutmonster (Jessie Ngaio) appears in all her glory and singing a happy song, you know you’re in for quite an adventure. The premise of Slutmonster and Friends is that two brothers, Bovril (Wes Gardner) and Larch (Lucas Heil) are lost in this forest and what happens once they encounter Slutmonster.

From then on, things happen that you cannot believe you are seeing. Despite the high sexual content and outright wackiness, it all seems very fitting in this environment and doesn’t seem crass. The great thing about Slutmonster and Friends is despite all the explicit sexual references there is actually quite a convincing storyline which Heil and Gardner (as writers) should be congratulated on. It’s also great to see the three performers fully committed and taking on the demands of roles that other actors might not have been so comfortable doing.

There is a lot of crazy and racy stuff in this show but the cast are smart enough to realise this and break up the hectic pace with the same story being projected on a screen periodically as a traditional fairy-tale that would be much more child-friendly. It’s quite amusing to watch this version and see how it refers to and re-imagines things that have happened on stage.

The costumes and set design, all by Ngaio, are superb, especially the full Slutmonster costume. No amount of describing it will do it justice so you really need to go and see this show and witness all of its charms and laughs yourself.

I have never seen anything quite like Slutmonster and Friends before and I think it will be a long time before I do again. It’s a great show when the worst thing is that it has to end. I overheard one audience member say this at the end of the show and I wholeheartedly agree with their statement: “Genius. Just genius.”

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until 20 April | Thus-Sat 10:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $17 Concession

Bookings: 9481 9500, www.northcotetownhall.com.au & at the door.


Familiar formula still pleases

By Bradley Storer

Celebrated Australian comedian Josh Thomas returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a new show after writing and starring in ABC’s successful new series Please Like Me. The basis of Josh’s comedy (on-screen and off) has always been based around the dissonance between his cute, awkwardly adorable persona and the messy realities of his twenty-something Gen Y male existence. This formula has not altered significantly since Josh’s last show, although there are some refreshing new changes in his story-telling choices.

Josh Thomas

The theme of the show is about the moments of Josh’s life where he has not been the best person: the ‘douchebag’ of the title. There are tales of relationship troubles, involving the inability to say ‘I love you’ and the massive arguments sparked by homeopathic medicine, an account of accidentally scaring a young girl with leukaemia, and Josh’s casual insults towards fellow travellers while hiking in Tasmania. The story which sparked the idea for the show, an impromptu journey in Thailand to find an elusive massage parlour, however turns out to be an anti-climax which is hardly mitigated by Josh admitting that even he is aware the story is inadequate.

From the very moment he walked onstage, Josh had the audience on side (which is a rare gift). Although there was a continuous stream of laughter, as well as the occasional shocked gasp, there was never a moment which made me burst out laughing uncontrollably – the laughs stayed at one level for the entire evening. This could simply be due to issues in how the show is structured, or maybe because that by the end the audience was so used to Josh’s style that there were no surprises left.

VENUE: Melbourne Town Hall – Lower Town Hall

TIME: 8:15 (7:15 Sunday)

TICKETS: Preview $25, Full Wed-Fri & Sun $33, Full Sat $35, Concession (n/a Fri & Sat) $30, Tightarse Tuesday $25, Laugh Pack (n/a Fri & Sat) $30, Group (8+, n/a Fri & Sat) $30.

BOOKING: www.comedyfestival.com.au, www.ticketmaster.com.au or Phone 1300 660 013, Melbourne Town Hall Box Office.


Comedy cabaret compendium is a nite to remember

By Bradley Storer

Introduced by her sullen handmaiden Flaxen McGinty (Virginia Ginty), the radiant Ali McGregor sauntered down through the audience, serenading us with sensual song and sublime vocals.

Ali McGregor

Although more than capable of entertaining us all by herself, the former Opera Australia leading lady took to the stage to present a rotating cast of comedians, burlesque and cabaret performers in what has become one of the main-stay events of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

On this particular night there was a wonderful selection of talent on display. Matt Okine, last year’s Best Newcomer at the Comedy Festival, showed great comedic skill as he regaled us with the awkward tale of having an African father and a former Nazi Youth for a grandfather (‘he wasn’t Nazi enough that he killed Jews,’ Okine reassured us, ‘…Just enough to be pope’). With bright eyes and a cheeky smile, burlesque performer Agent Lynch unveiled an instrument McGregor later informed us was called a ‘vagilaphone’.

Renowned international cabaret duo EastEnd Cabaret dropped in for an exclusive performance, chanteuse Bernadette Byrne and her sidekick Victor Victoria raising the temperature of the evening with a saucy accordion cover of ‘I’m Too Sexy’. Comedian Dave Callan closed the night with a spontaneous, fully choreographed performance of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’, complete with back-up dancers, that brought down the house.

McGregor interspersed songs from her latest album throughout the show, including jazz and funk re-vamped versions of 80’s songs by The Prodigy and Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Her ‘buttress’ McGinty joined in on duets with her velvetly smooth voice, also taking centre stage herself to sing a cheeky tune dedicated to the virtues of her hand-crafted chair (to be understood in all its smutty glory, it must be seen in context). A true ‘late night’ show which combines ribaldry, entertainment and cheap low-brow humour all with a hint of classiness, a delicious cocktail of after-dark delights.

TIME: 10:30 (9:30 Sunday)

VENUE: The Famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd

TICKETS: Thur/Sun $30, Fri/Sat $35, Conc Thur/Sun $25, Conc Fri/Sat $30, Group (6+) $25

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au, www.comedyfestival.com.au, Ticketmaster 1300 660 013, Arts Centre 1300 182 183, or at the venue.

Review: DEANNE SMITH’s Let’s Do This

From awkward beginnings to utter charm

By Bradley Storer

About eight seconds after psyching up herself and the audience with Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, comedian Deanne Smith cuts the music short and admits ‘I can’t maintain this level of energy for very long’.

Smith opens with a ukulele tune in which she recruits the audience to interject at her command with the title of her show – the song never really managed to gain momentum since Smith was constantly forced to stop and wait for the audience’s response, and this made for a slightly awkward opening. After this small bump in the road though, her show Let’s Do It for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival picks up and soars.

Deanne Smith

The main thrust of Smith’s show is an examination of her inability to be a self-confident and secure person, gleefully dissecting her various neuroses to side-splitting and, at times, jaw-dropping effect.

Smith’s strength is her innate sweetness and lovability, which allows her to delve into some unexpectedly filthy and dark places (at my particular performance, even Smith herself remarked at several points, surprised ‘You all got on board with that!’). Topics range from the unfortunate implications of the term ‘femi-nazis’ and her hatred of penguins to a remarkably optimistic view of humanity’s current effects on the environment.

Interspersed throughout are many moments of audience participation, people individually to be sung at, called up to assist onstage or to take photos during the show (for one particular section, I’d advise bringing along a friend to save potential embarrassment). The hour show flies by and it would be hard to imagine anyone who would not be doubled over in laughter by the end.

DATES: 30th MARCH – 21st APRIL

TIME: 9:45 (8:45 Sunday)


TICKETS: Full $25, Preview $20, Tightarse Tuesday $20, Laugh Pack (n/a Fri & Sat) $20, Concession $20 (n/a Fri & Sat), Group (8+) (N/A Fri & Sat) $20

BOOKINGS: www.ticketmaster.com.au, Phone – 1300 660 013, www.comedyfestival.com.au, Melbourne Town Hall Box Office

REVIEW: Saturn Returns for MICF

Double act lifts a curse to cosmic comic heights

By Myron My

Returning for an encore season during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Saturn Returns is an intergalactic comic cabaret by musical comedy performers Lachlan MacLeod and Simon Abrahams.

Saturn Returns 1

Coming on stage in stellar shiny silver three-piece suits and ties, the two men delve into the “curse” of Saturn’s Return, where an orbiting Saturn comes back to the same point in the sky that it was in at the moment of your birth. Each time this happens, roughly every 30 years, we are said to enter a new phase of our lives, so it’s quite fitting that Abrahams has already experienced his own Saturn Return and MacLeod is fast approaching his.

MacLeod and Abrahams perform a dozen original songs – ranging from ballads to rap to boy band pop songs – about the highs and lows of turning 30. Gems include “One Grey Pube” which looks at the inevitability of turning old and “Does It Work Out In The End” where they question whether things will get better the older (and hopefully wiser) we become. At various times, they take to the ukulele and piano on stage to accompany their songs and further reveal their musical talents.

Having just turned 30 myself, I could unequivocally relate to everything they were singing about. The fear of having taken a wrong turn somewhere, finding someone to love, a career and wondering when it will all fall into place are thoughts that have crossed my mind many times.

The two have been working together for ten years, and it shows. Their energy and charm during Saturn Returns is magnetic and very natural. They would have to be one of the strongest and funniest duos I have seen in a very long time on the performance circuit.

If you’ve passed your 30s, go along and reminisce about the “hideous, painful and traumatic stage of (y)our lives”. If you’re still in your 20s, go along and take note of what’s waiting for you. Getting older is not all bad, especially when you have great entertainers like Abrahams and MacLeod singing songs and making jokes about it.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne

Season: Until 6 April | Tues-Wed, Sun 8:00pm, Thurs-Sat 9:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Concession

Bookings: www.butterflyclub.com or 9690 2000