It’s almost time for the 35th Melbourne Fringe, and if you’re anything like us, the mammoth showcase of over 400 acts can be a little overwhelming. But don’t stress. We’ve done the hard work for you and pulled together a lucky 13 of the funniest, coolest and (frankly) freakiest shows you’ve got to see.
If you need a little more improvisation in your life, look no further than Dark Triad. Running their own format based on Dante's Inferno, the group will look to the audience to prompt the performance as they find out where it all went wrong, enduring every layer of hell as they go.The group consists of Carla Scotto, Jesse Vogelaar, Amelia Williams and James Callopy, you can catch it at Queen Of Spades, 189 Smith Street in Fitzroy.
A rising star of Australia’s comedy scene, lawyer-turned-stand-up and writer on Channel Ten’s The Project Michael Shafar’s freaking hilarious Jewish-ish packed out shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. He’ll be interrogating the wrongness of Kosher Bacon and other contradictions in his new Fringe show of the same name. We expect it’ll be funnier than pigs flying.
Keeper Or Crapper
Speaking of comedians who won’t stand for bulls&*t, American import and Flight of the Conchords guest star Arj Barker will brazenly try out his new material on Fringe audiences in Keeper or Crapper. Only you have the power to determine what jokes score the royal flush and which get flushed away.
Man, if you feel like a woman, swing with the Shania Choir. The flannel-wearing, eight girl, two bloke country a capella group has the prerogative to have a little fun...with leopard print and US star Shania Twain’s extensive back catalogue. If that don’t impress you much, then don’t be stupid (you know you love her).
Also check out Excelcis’ choral tribute to 25 years of Sister Act, Joyful, Joyful.
Singer-songwriter and all-round musical comedian Alice Tovey has had it with your Mansplaining. Following five-star reviews at MICF, Tovey is back with her partner in crime, cabaret star and composer Ned Dixon, and they’ll be skewering the patriarchy one tram man-spreading overreach at a time.
With the postal survey given the go ahead and the fight for marriage equality well and truly on, you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone wanted in. Not so in award-winning playwright Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s moving blues song of a show, The One. It stars Mark Storen as a lover feeling rebuffed when his partner, played by Georgia King, rejects his proposal—not because she doesn’t love him, but because she’s not buying into that old institution.
Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special
More than a decade after we last said goodbye to Rachel and her hair, dweeby Ross, neurotic Monica, awkward Chandler, hopeless Joey and off-the-wall Phoebe, it’s still practically impossible to avoid repeats of Friends on the telly. Comedians Lauren Edwards and Jude Perl are all for this glut, celebrating it and other much-loved 90s hits including Seinfeld and The Nanny in Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special.
While you’re in the 90s vibe, check out Spice Girls tribute Spice! A Singalong?
Part of an awesome program developing new works by indigenous artists - Deadly Fringe - Wiradjuri man Joel Bray will perform his unique dance theatre spin on Biladurang, the creation story of the platypus, in a hotel room at the Collins Street Sofitel. Developed in conjunction with outstanding ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and The Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, it sounds ace.
Also check out the collective’s Dis Place.
Birds On Sticks
Catch former Home and Away star and Play School presenter Alex Papps, alongside puppeteer Heath McIvor, as two over-it puppet masters who begrudge careers spent with their hands lodged up furry and felty butts in Birds on Sticks. Funnily enough, it’s directed by satirical comedian and TV star Sammy J, human counterpart to the purple felt-faced Randy.
Trash Test Dummies
Got kids to entertain? Freshly returned from the Edinburgh Fringe, the Trash Test Dummies - aka Thomas McDonald, Isaac Salter and Leigh Rhodes – love a good hardhat and dungaree combo while working their madcap circus mayhem routine. Occupational health and safety warning: these guys are guaranteed to split sides with their laugh-stacked misadventures.
Look, hands down the weirdest sounding show in this year’s Fringe line-up is Arts Centre Melbourne’s Discordia. Narrated by iconic SBS News presenter Lee Lin Chin, it’s pitched as a bizarre tour of the building’s myriad nooks and crannies as led by a prawn-worshipping cult. It also involves an inflatable vagina and a womb room. Which means you absolutely must see it.
Did someone say Melbourne Oktoberfest street party? Yep, we did. Just now.
Image credit: Melbourne Fringe Festival