This is our favourite time of the year. There’s a nip in the air, lights and bunting take over the CBD, and the funniest comedians in the world roam the streets of Melbourne for four glorious weeks. Better see a chiropractor ‘bout that funny bone—MICF is back for 2018.
As always, there’s the never-ending list of shows to see. (TBH, you can do a lot worse than grabbing a flyer from the young comics outside Town Hall and taking a punt.) But we’ve chucked together a little list here anyway. 17 shows to check out at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
The Big Names
The DOD. The man who famously put the ‘aha’ in ‘Yamaha Keyboard’. David O’Doherty has been slaying show after show at The Forum for yonks, and they’re consistently hilarious. It might be the accent, it might be the way his hair erupts from his cranium in a shaggy mane. Who knows. He’s just f*cking funny. Check out his Grand Designs vid above and tell us we’re wrong.
Steven K Amos
Steven K Amos is the consummate stand-up pro. You know how Malcolm Gladwell reckons you can only become an expert after 10,000 hours’ practise? Well Amos left the 10,000-hour mark behind YEARS ago. This year’s show is called Bread & Circuses—pretty much a chuckle-filled distraction from the general state of the world.
American comics often struggle to penetrate the Aussie market, but Kyle Kinane is funny enough to make it on any continent. Easily one of the most talented US comics in the last 10 years, he’s been nominated for a Barry Award and starred in a bunch of Comedy Central specials. Check him out before the hype really hits.
Judith Lucy & Denise Scott
The Grand Dames of the Australian comedy circuit, and this time you’re getting two-for-one. Lucy and Scott are setting expectations low this year—they’ve called their show Disappointments, which is one show title that actually succeeds in being funny. Get in quick for this one—they’re only doing a limited run.
If you’re a TED Talk fan, you’ve probably seen James Veitch floating around the internet. He sold out last year with his show Dot Con (literally sold out, not in a figurative, creatively barren sort of way), and this year he’s back with Game Face. Geeks and people dating geeks, this one’s for you.
Anyone who wins RAW Comedy is a bona fide future star, and Danielle Walker is ready to hit the big time. Her show this year is called Bush Rat, and here’s a little excerpt: “Hi, I’m Danielle. My Grandad calls me Bush Rat. Once I was bored and e gave me a magnifying glass to burn my dead dog’s name onto a piece of wood so we could put it on his grave”. Yeah, this girl is special. See her now, gloat for years to come.
Demi Lardner has won just about every award for being funny there is in Australia. Director’s choice at MICF, Underbelly Award at the Adelaide Fringe, Best Newcomer at Sydney Comedy Festival...the list goes on. Completely nuts and a certifiable genius, here’s a little taster from her I Love Skeleton blurb: “Demi contains nutrients including lactose and is an important source of protein, since each glass of Demi contains almost eight grams.” Well, quite.
Rose has been laying low since storming onto the comedy scene in 2016 (where she picked up Best Comedy at the Sydney Fringe and sold out her MICF run). This year it's No Way Rosé—a bubbly look at all the terrible things that happen when you slam back too many 'cougar juices' (to borrow Rose's words). Rave reviews follow this lady everywhere. Check it out and you'll see why.
Alex Ward made her MICF debut last year and sold every single ticket. That sort of first-year hype is rare, so you should probably get down in 2018 and see what all the fuss is about. She’s a warm and self-depreciating stand-up with a wicked tongue and talent to burn. This year she’s at Trades Hall with her new show, Good, Great.
We’ve been fans of these guys for years. They’ve steadily built a cult following with their surrealist, off-the-wall sketch comedy, and we’re proud and paid members of that cult. This year they’re heading back to school with Glenridge Secondary College. It’ll be educational, it’ll be weird, it’ll be funny. You should see it.
Gee Kate McCartney & Kate McLennan have done well for themselves. What started as a spoof Youtube cooking channel has grown into a cultural juggernaut, with TV shows and a big scoop of lucrative fame. You can catch Kate and Kate this year for one very special show—a sit down chat with another legend, author and TV star Benjamin Law. #Keen.
Michael Shafar quit law to do comedy, which turned out to be a pretty good call. He's gone on to sell-out shows at the Melbourne Fringe and MICF, not to mention being a writer on The Project (yeah, you know those zinging one-liners? Michael writes a lot of those). This year he's back with Kosher Bacon. Highly recommend.
Splash Test Dummies
Last year we got Trash Test Dummies, and now we've got Splash Test Dummies (sensing a theme here). The guys responsible are Jamie Bretman, Simon Wright and Jack Coleman, circus pros and acrobats who've built something that's half Cirque de Soleil, have...god knows what. Should be an interesting one.
The Weird & Wonderful
Pinch us, we might be dreaming. We first saw Tim Key a billion years ago during his Slut Trilogy, and we’ve never forgotten the experience. You can’t really compare Tim Key to anyone that isn’t Tim Key—if you’ve seen his stuff before, you’ll know what we mean. Part poetry, part comedy, part dark and terrifying meta-art. If you only catch one show this year, make it this one.
First Dog On The Moon
“First Dog will prepare you for the looming collapse of civilisation and the demise of everything you ever cared about.” Well thank god someone is. If you’re a long time fan of Australia’s most famous and subversive comic strip, this is your chance to meet First Dog in the flesh. Prepare for the Apocolypse...
Shout out to the beardy Big Man, Cam Tyeson. Editor at Pedestrian TV and all around good guy (despite his weird Stone Cold Steve Austin fetish). Cam is still one of our favourite writers of all time, and now you can see the words coming out of his mouth instead of his fingers. The show’s called Mainlander. Fingers crossed it’s a sell-out and Cam can upgrade that hideous Cactus Jack t-shirt he wears like a second skin (that’s right, Cam. We’re watching you.)
Every year the MICF throws up a few shows that aren’t strictly stand-up (Hannah Gadsby’s excellent National Gallery art history tours spring to mind). Well this year we’re getting WTF Renaissance—a meme gallery brought to life, taking over The Malthouse with very serious Renaissance paintings...and very funny modern-day captions. It’s kind of hard to explain.
You know what goes well with comedy? Booze. Here are the best bars in Melbourne to keep you hydrated.
Image credit: Visit Melbourne