Tag: MICF 2017

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: ROMESH RANGANATHAN is IRRATIONAL

Delightfully disarming

By Tania Herbert

A relative newcomer to the comedy scene (he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2013), Romesh Ranganathan has been a regular face across the BBC stand-up and mock-news genres in recent years. At his first appearance in Australia for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Romesh himself queried “Can it be worth it?” to have travelled from his UK home to present Irrational – a stand-up show which has previously sold over 100,000 tickets in its 2016 run.


Romesh brings a generally self-deprecating style and continual tongue-in-cheek humour which is full of charm, wit and the occasional ‘awww’ (though Romesh, do you really expect us to believe you are exceedingly unattractive?)

As irrationality tends to be, it was a highly amusing performance, and one which Romesh is clearly comfortable and polished in. The laughs were constant and genuine, and created that lovely and not-so-common feeling of a community of laughter in the audience. There’s no particular single narrative or ‘plot’ – it’s a life-ramble through family, technology, politics, entertainment and sexuality, with an ongoing theme of the comedic opportunities one has as a ‘brown person with a lazy eye’ living in the Western world.

Too often it is the case that one goes to see a beloved BBC comedian on stage rather than screen, and instead finds themselves inundated with unsophisticated adult humour. However, this was not the case in Irrational. Whilst swearing like a trooper (and amusing us by his tales of encouraging his children to do the same), Romesh maintains his charisma throughout, though I probably could have lived without quite such a vivid description of an afterbirth.

Overall, this is a fun show, and very typical of both his usual humour and stand-up generally, though I was actually most entertained by his off-the-cuff stuff, which was infrequent but hilarious.

If you enjoy a bit of charming, slightly awkward and lightly-political British humour, then you’ll have a great time at Irrational.

Irrational is playing at The Pavillion at The Arts Centre until April 23, with new sessions added for the 21st and 22nd


Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: JUPLICITY

All the laughs

By Margaret Weiringa

Early on, Phil Jupitus warns the audience that if they are expecting the Phil Jupitus that you’ve seen regularly on QI, chirpy and flirting with Stephen Fry, that you’re mistaken. The man we are watching tonight is far more filthy-mouthed and very, very hilarious. He’s a master of standup, with perfect timing to draw the audience in before slamming the punchlines.


Jupiter also mentions that it is tricky being a comic in the age of the internet because the audience may have already seen a lot of his recent work. In particular, he refers to the section of a show that he played at The Apollo that raised controversy for the way he included parts of his teenage daughter’s life in his act. I mention this here, because he tells us he picks up this act from the end of that routine and if you are attending, you might want to check it out first.

The show is quite intimate in the Pavilion at the Arts Centre, a room that may be more often used for conferences than performances. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and it was the perfect setting for the stories Jupitus told of his childhood and of his life. Certainly a highlight was the revelation of his youthful misunderstandings about the facts of life and just how confusing hearing about sex can be to a young child.

Juplicity seemed to disappear in a moment, and I left wanting more. I know I’ll be looking for his act from The Apollo, and I hope that he comes back to Australia again in the future.

Where: The Pavilion at The Arts Centre

When: April 19-22 at 7pm, April 23 at 6pm

Tickets: $46.90, https://www.comedyfestival.com.au or through Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: RENONSENSE MAN

Always a joy

By Leeor Adar

Jimeoin has brought the best of his physical comedy for this 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival season. He’s part-time Irishman, and part-time horny T-Rex, who brandishes his guitar for one of the best renditions of a one-night-stand love song I’ve ever heard.

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You just can’t be disappointed with his comic prowess; he steers clear of the political rabbit hole whilst his humour never sinks to the boobs-and-farts dimension lesser comedians use to relate to their audience. Jimeoin is relatable because he’s totally human, and totally willing to laugh along with you. Sitting in a Jimeoin audience is like sitting with your good mates as the funniest one sends you into fits. It’s a social event, a comedy that brings everyone together.

Thrilling Australians since the nineties, Jimeoin can always get audiences in the droves, signifying that his humour through the ages never ceases to endure. Whilst us 20-somethings cackled with glee, we sat next to an older gentleman and his companion, who slapped their knees along with us. This is the mark of a great comedian, and Jimeoin’s star has returned across the seas to the United Kingdom where he’s been thrilling them since the naughties.

Renonsense Man is Jimeoin’s historical account of his life with such energy, humour and absurdity. It’s a return to his Northern-Irish roots; a father who banishes him to be funny elsewhere; a mother without a sense of humour whilst being entirely comic in his retelling; and the everyday all of us can recognise.

You can catch Jimeoin’s performance for the MICF at ACMI until Sunday April 23rd. Performances commence at 8:15pm most nights, and Sunday’s at 7:15pm.

Take your friends, take your neighbours, and maybe for the more daring lot – take your kids.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: IMPURE THOUGHTS

Devilishly cheeky

By Myron My

There are times when we find ourselves in situations where our internal voice is saying something completely different to our external one. This is usually because our true thoughts would be something unacceptable, rude or improper. In her latest show presented as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Claire Healy’s Impure Thoughts delves into these urges one by one in a night of striking music and appealing storytelling.

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It’s been over a year since I last saw Healy perform and in that time, it appears she has gone through some form of exciting transformation, as she seems to have really found her voice with Impure Thoughts. It’s loud and commanding, and I was struck by the subtle differences she incorporated into each song.  Her opening number, sung in French, is a powerful beginning, and despite not all understanding the language, her audience are still able to deduce what is being shared.

Healy’s affable nature is evident as she shares anecdotes, from her stint working as a performer in nursing homes in England, to her annoyance at Facebook’s targeted marketing. While the links between story and song were not always clear or strong, both were still highly entertaining.

The show never get too nasty or tries to deal with taboo subject matters, which is in line with Healy’s quirky humour and cheerful view of the world. Even when her rage and frustrations are legitimate, Healy makes sure that the tone of the show is kept light-hearted and fun, such as lampooning an article published in 1895 listing the forty-one don’ts for female cyclists, to highlight enduring issues of sexism and misogyny.

Impure Thoughts might not be as scandalous or salacious as the show title might suggest, but Healy has ensured that we are kept smiling throughout the cabaret. It’s an evening of great songs, clever writing and some excellent wide-eye stares.

Venue: Tasma Terrace, 6 Parliament Place, Melbourne.
Season: until 22 April | Mon – Sat 8:00pm (no shows 14 -1 7 April)
50 minutes
Tickets: $25.30 Full | $20.30 Conc | $18.30 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: COWBOY MOUTH

By name and by nature

By Myron My

Comedian David Quirk has had four different women located around the world dream about him. These women all contacted Quirk to tell him about their dreams and from these communications , Quirk has created his stand-up show Cowboy Mouth, which is being presented as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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Quirk cleverly uses the four encounters as touchstones for his anecdotes, in which he takes a step back from the dream and looks at the bigger picture or implications. The first one involves a woman reading a review about one of his shows and talking about this, which leads Quirk to recall a memorable meeting he had with a fan. Watching Quirk on stage for the first time, this story immediately gave me an indication of the type of personality he has and the misadventure and trouble that seems to follow him wherever he goes, and subsequently set the comic tone for the rest of the show.

At one point, Quirk beings to explain that sometimes he completely blanks out as to where he is and what he is doing, which has led to some hilarious encounters, including the one with his neighbour which left everyone stunned with jaws hanging. Quirk never rushes through his stories, which allows us to be fully engrossed by what he is saying, and to break out in laughter as we re-live the moment with him.

Quirk’s show give the audience a real insight into how he operates, how he sees the world and his assessment of the situations he finds himself in. His analysis of a particular racial slur he hears is a perfect example of conveying his unique life views to us.

With Cowboy Mouth, we are treated to a near-hour of thoughtful reflection on the world around us as seen through Quirk’s eyes. It’s an evening of great storytelling with plenty of laughs to be had.

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr. Swantson and Collins St, Melbourne.
Season: until 23 April | Tues – Sat 9.45pm, Sun 8:45pm
Length: 55 minutes
Tickets: $20 – $32
Bookings: MICF website

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: MANFUL

Reach your potential

By Myron My

Ask any man what type of body they would like to have, and the answer you’d get is most likely going to be something resembling Liam Hemsworth’s. Or perhaps it would be the beefcake Dicky Rosenthal. Dicky is the brains (and brawn) behind the new muscle-gaining protein health shake, Manfül, and in Manfül, we are present at the launch of this drink that Dicky promises will transform us from being puny dweeb bags to real men.


Presented as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Manfül is a character-comedy piece written and performed by Josh Glanc in which he explores what it means to be a ‘real’ man and how this can sometimes clash with remaining honest to yourself and being what makes you happy.

Glanc delivers a nuanced portrayal of Dicky where he is able to simultaneously convey his anxieties and bravado, and his gradual acceptance that he is not the man he purports to be. Unfortunately the writing is not as sharp as it should be and it feels like ideas and topics are touched on without being fully explored. The jokes sometimes fail to to be anything more than laughing at someone in a muscle suit and/or involving bodily fluids, which is a shame as there was strong potential for Manfül to be an intelligent commentary about modern man and masculinity.

While the final moments of the show force Dicky to face some truths about himself – and the pressures that men feel to be seen as a tough, show-no-fear type of guys – the overall narrative to reaching that point makes it obvious that this is where we are going to end up and therefore there is little impact from the big reveal.

At a time when there is much discussion on what is masculine and feminine and what makes a man a real man, Manfül‘s attempts at picking this apart seems to fall a little short. Glanc has created a great character in Dicky, and now he just needs to work on creating an equally great story for him.

Venue: ACMI, Federation Square
until 23 April | Tues – Sat 8:15pm, Sun 7:15pm

55 minutes

$25 Full | $21 Conc | $19 Tightarse Tuesday

MICF website

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: THAT’S AMORE

Fabulously fun

By Tania Herbert

With checkered table cloths, piano accordion music and rather copious amounts of wine, we could have been any Italian restaurant on Lygon St. But the opening announcement: “If you could please turn off your phone and your flashing Jesus and Mary” (our table centrepieces) reminded us that rather we were out the back of the fantastic Howler Bar, watching the best that kitsch has to offer with Annabella Dickson‘s return season of That’s Amore for this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival..

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It’s West Side Story goes disco as two cheese-crossed lover, Annabella Mozzarella and Johnny Parmigiano (both played by Dickson) find themselves separated by the seas after Johnny leaves their home of Napoli to take a job as a mechanic in Coburg. Annabella is left to contemplate whether to leave her old life behind- and what Eve should do when she reaches for the apple only to find she’s picked a lemon.

Not quite play, cabaret or burlesque show, That’s Amore is more reminiscent of an adult pantomime, with character switching, lip-syncing, cheap laughs and outrageous costuming. There are trinkets for sale and a long interval for additional wine purchases, and what was expected to be a short cabaret was instead a real night of entertainment. Annabella’s switching from the female to male characters is over the top, but also impressive – the great mannerisms and self-aware stereotyping are fun and (just) on the right side of the ‘too much’ line.

Much of the show is pre-recorded film scenes, which are used to smoothly link the dance numbers and allow for interaction between Dickson’s two lovers – in addition to allowing for huge costume (and gender) transformations.

Whilst Annabella is every bit the star, she is backed up by a talented support cast of five, each with their own impressive resumes of dance and music background. Anjelika Thwaites (dancer and choreographer) was the particular eye-catcher – her burlesque performance whilst hanging out the washing being the sexy high point. The dancing ranges from cute choreography (spoofing film great moments from Titania to American Beauty) to some impressive contemporary numbers – particularly a touching male-partnered ‘living statues’ number.

It’s not high art, and best taken with lots of (preferably Italian) wine, but That’s Amore is an awful lot of fun, meticulously produced and absolutely self-confident.

Ridiculous, flamboyant and thoroughly enjoyable, the show is perfectly pitched to the bawdy audience it attracted – and it is not surprising the season has, again, sold out. Also, I want the soundtrack.

That’s Amore is playing as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival at Howler Bar on 6, 7 and 9 April, 2017.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: ASSISTED SUICIDE – THE MUSICAL

Seriously funny

By Joana Simmons

From turning dirty thirty, to having a poke at their nationality, to everything in between, this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival has artists with all sorts of reasons to put on a show. In Assisted Suicide, The Musical, the motive for putting on the show here is a very important one. Described as “a TeD Talk with show tunes” UK’s disability rights campaigner and actor Liz Carr (Clarissa Mullery in the BBC’s Silent Witness) and her cast of upbeat cheesy chorus members sing, dance and shed light on what can be seen as a dark issue, especially at this time as our Victorian Premier pushing for a parliamentary conscience vote on euthanasia this year.

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Opening with a classic kick-line chorus number “Choosing Choice”, we are warmed up for a night of musical messages and edgy issues. Liz Carr graces the stage in her glitter-filled hair and sparkly boots and is engaging and relaxed. She speaks with eloquence and passion, peppering facts with comedy, piece by piece revealing how assisted suicide is not black and white: there is a fine line between terminally ill and disabled. We see how by making it legal will eventually mean that people like her will feel like there is an exit sign hanging over their heads. The show is humorously and well written, including some wonderfully cringe-worthy puns and catchy tunes.

Many theatrical elements were used to make this discussion entertaining and compelling. Carr and director Mark Whitelaw have got in our faces and pushed us to think harder. The set is simple and effective, and space used well by all the cast. The choreography and singing is relatively basic: initally I was unsure if the chorus were meant to be taking the mickey or just giving a tacky delivery, but as the show went on there were some standout moments that left us chortling, such as the marking meeting meeting to ‘jazz up’  the idea of euthenasia with a new brandname, or the raunchy number to make end-of-life care more appealing (“Palliative Claire”). Composer Ian Hill’s music follows the famous showtune formula that we love, and the sound was good as expected in a venue like Malthouse. The lighting however was not as coherent, with some cast members being in half darkness or cues being missed the night I attended.

Amazing work and thought has gone into this show to deliver a complex and controversial subject in a comedic and highly digestible way. It’s meaty, it’s memorable, and sometimes it melts your heart. My eyes were opened and shows like this remind us how powerful theatre can be. If you are looking for something to sink your teeth into this comedy festival, or even have a nibble and then think a little; this is the show for you.

Assisted Suicide, The Musical

30th March- 9th April


Beckett Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse


$17.50 – $25’


Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: SOAP

Lather up

By Myron My

Bath time has never been this fun – and sexy – as Soap. Direct from Germany, Soap is touring Australia with original and engaging circus acts that will leave audiences with their mouths wide open as they witness the re-interpretation of what circus can be. Presented as pat of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it’s definitely a show that should not be missed.


The troupe – Adem Endris, Liudmila Nikolaeva, Lena Ries, Daniel Leo Stern, Mario Espanol and Moritz Haase – are on top of their game with their physically demanding and challenging acts. The acrobatics between Espanol and Haase create a firm highlight, displaying the performers’ athleticism and strength, and also being a rare opportunity where I have seen same-sex relationships highlighted in mainstream circus. Nikolaeva has a commanding presence each time she appears on stage, as she executes a variety of tricks with finesse and skill.

Joining the cast on stage is soprano Jennifer Lindshield, who adds an operatic tone to Tal Bashai’s musical arrangements. While this seems like a peculiar choice, the genre is integrated thoughtfully and creatively with the rest of the show. Lindshield’s “Splish Splash” re-imagining is particularly entertaining to watch and hear, as is Nicole Ratjen‘s commendable clowning ability in warming up the audience and providing laughs during the very smooth transitions.

Daniele Drobny‘s stage design of six bathtubs raised to various heights captures our attention before we’ve even taken our seat and its authoritative presence is never forgotten. The bath theme works well in creating moments of playful fun, like Endris’ juggling striptease, to something more intense and intimate, such as the loved-triangle themed acrobatic performance by Stern, Nikolaeva and Ries.

Soap is world-class circus that is bound to have audiences transfixed by what is being presented on the stage. It’s full of surprising moments and acts that – while they may have been done before – have never been done in this way. An extremely polished show that will have you looking at your bathtub in a different light.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: until 22 April | Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Sat 4pm, Sun 6:30pm
Length: 85 minutes
Tickets: Prices from $44.50 to $56.50
Bookings: MICF website

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: WIL ANDERSON is CRITICALLY ILL

Poignantly and gloriously funny

By Jessica Cornish

Exuding wit, personality and bundles of charisma, Wil Anderson is proudly performing his newest show Critically Ill for his twenty-second consecutive appearance at the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the iconic Comedy Theatre.

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Anderson’s high-energy show examined the dire state of the world and the biggest problems facing our society ranging from climate change, privilege and domestic violence. His show boldly makes fun of the ignorance and absurdities displayed by members of our society who arm themselves with a lack of facts and knowledge sourced from the world of Facebook and Buzzfeed. Accordingly, Anderson repeatedly emphasised that we are currently living a world where facts no longer matter nor hold value, which is best exemplified by the 2016 Oxford dictionary’s word of the year ‘post-truth’ meaning that ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Anderson’s show is beyond hilarious and every minute was a pleasure, which is no easy feat considering the bleak subject matter. The 75-minute stand-up routine is well-structured and fast-paced as he cleverly highlighted the world on the brink of disaster with such animation and joy despite the stark realities he speaks about. The show also has a beguiling more personal element touching on his family background growing up as the son and grandson of a dairy farmer from a rural Australian town and growing in to the person and life he wanted to create for himself. I particularly enjoyed his lively imitations of himself, friends and politicians as he coaxes you into his version of the truth which he asserts should itself always be questioned.

Wil Anderson’s Critically Ill is thought-provoking, bleak and joyfully funny all at once: catch him while you can.

The Comedy Theatre, cnr Lonsdale & Exhibition Sts, Melbourne

Wed 29 Mar – Sat 1 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 2 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 5 Apr & Thu 6 Apr: 8.45pm;
Fri 7 Apr: 9.30pm;
Sun 9 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 12 Apr – Fri 14 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 16 Apr: 6pm;
Wed 19 Apr – Fri 21 Apr: 8.45pm;
Sun 23 Apr: 6pm

AUSLAN: Wed 5 Apr: 8.45pm
Buy tickets through Ticketmaster

Wed & Thu $34.90
Fri $49.90


Arts Centre Melbourne
State Theatre, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Sat 15 Apr and Sat 22 Apr: 9pm 
Buy tickets through Arts Centre Melbourne

Sat $54.90
Sun $44.90