MELBOURNE | With the Easter break fast approaching and the comedic A0 posters already filling the train stations, it’s once again time for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It all kicks off on March 23 and keeps on rolling until April 17, so it’s time to get your bookings in.
If you’ve never been to Melbourne’s comedy festival before, the shows are mostly around the Melbourne Town Hall area, is a surprisingly large building with quite a few performance areas, so make sure you read your ticket carefully before you get to the venue.
Planning Your Night
There are a few ways you can enjoy the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, some of which may appeal more than others.
The Preview Sessions
If you’re looking for your comedy fix to be combined with your obsession with hot cross buns, the preview sessions could be the answer. Held during the Easter period, these sessions are usually offered at a slightly lower price, but are seldom of a lower quality. If you’re on a budget or at a loss this Easter long weekend, this could be your solution.
The Dinner Date
Fancy a fancy dinner and a show? We can’t guarantee that the two will be a perfectly matched, degustation-style event, but a table at a nice restaurant and a trip to a comedy show might just be the way to go. There are some fine restaurants close by such as Meat Maiden and Supernormal, or Chinatown if you want to dine before a show.
The Last Drinks
Friday and Saturday nights are brilliant for the late-night comedy lover. Head out first, hit up a few bars in the city, and then make your way to a late night show. You’ll be able to buy more drinks there so don’t get too stressed if you can’t get your usual Friday night fill before the show begins. And obviously, we advise you to drink responsibly; comedians can get a lot of material from drunks.
Our personal favourite is the Allnighter. This is where after you knock off from work, you get a few friends together, find a bar (Melbourne has many, trust us), and find three to four shows you like the sound of. Then all you need to do is find a way to schedule them back to back, add a few restaurants and bars for the inbetween moments, and then you’ll have your own comedy festival.
Of note, if you’re planning on doing the Allnighter, we recommend balancing out your chosen acts to include a few you know and a few you don’t. They might end up being your new favorites. And make sure you know your public transport options to get home safe, although thankfully, Melbourne’s new all night transport on Friday and Saturday evenings does a neat job of solving this problem.
Choosing your acts
So now that you know some ways to plan your night, here are a few acts to get you started.
David O’Doherty: We Are All in the Gutter, But Some of Us Are Looking at David O’Doherty
— David O’Doherty (@phlaimeaux) February 3, 2016
If you’re looking for musical comedy, with the music coming primarily from a cool and hilariously tiny keyboard, you may want to check out David O’Doherty. This Irish comedian is a regular at MICF and we are all the better for it. And based on this year’s publicity photos, he’s really worked on his beard. (We couldn’t find a decent photo of him, so we took this from his Twitter feed).
Hannah Gadsby: Dogmatic
A prominent feature on Australian TV screens, Hannah Gadsby is touring Dogmatic. We’ll admit, we’re not sure what this show will entail, but based on the poster, we’re very very curious.
Radio Variety Hour
It’s a live-action, 1950s-style radio show, complete with sound effects – and apparently cabbages. It’s a murder mystery in the funniest possible way. We haven’t seen this troupe before but we hear very good things.
When: 5 April to 17 April 2016
Where: The Butterfly Club
Price: $25.00 – 32.00
Or if you only have one night in town, there are also the big shows, the one-offs, the shows you tell your grandchildren about.
This all female show is celebrating its 20th year, and features the likes of Cal Wilson, Fiona O’Loughlin, and Hannah Gadsby (I know, we mentioned her twice) all bringing their finest material to the Melbourne Town Hall. Did we mention it’s only for one night?
When: 21 April, 7:30pm (120 minutes)
Where: Melbourne Town Hall
Price: $31.00 – $44.00
Sarah Millican: Outsider
Signing programmes backstage. pic.twitter.com/jSMhrX6VPi
— Sarah Millican (@SarahMillican75) January 17, 2016
If you’ve ever seen a BBC talk show on Aunty (or on YouTube), chances are you’ve seen Sarah Millican’s work. We mention Millican for two reasons, first, because she is very, very funny, and second because she’s so popular that she successfully broke the one show only rule and is instead doing TWO SHOWS ONLY on the 2nd and 3rd of April. We’ll admit, TWO SHOWS ONLY doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but you get our point.
When: 2-3 April 2016
Where: Melbourne Town Hall
Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow
It’s exactly what it says on the tin, and what could be wrong with that? Details are scant on who is performing, but we think it’s worth the gamble. But careful warning, to attend this one, you’re going to have to stray beyond the CBD and down southside to the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. We think it would be worth the trip, but you know, it is southside. We’ll let you northsiders face your own demons on that one.
When: 23 March 2016
Where: Palais Theatre, St Kilda
Price: $38.69 – $157.97
For information on other great acts, check out the full, sprawling, monumental Melbourne International Comedy Festival program and start planning your comedy evening now.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival (2016)
Where: Melbourne Town Hall and other locations
When: 23 March to 17 April 2016
Price: See individual shows for pricing details.
Photos courtesy of performers and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.