Time to Gear up for the 27th Melbourne International Comedy Festival

The 27th Melbourne International Comedy Festival was launched this week as VIPs, venue owners and media came together amid the glitter of the Spiegeltent.

‘MC HANNAH’, oops, I mean the wonderfully dead-pan Hannah Gadsby introduced the proceedings.

Photo Jim Lee
MC Hannah Gadsby, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Festival Chair Bill Shannon – Photo Jim Lee

The formalities were lightened by Gadsby’s banter and excerpts from two of the 477 shows that make up this year’s Comedy feast.

477 shows, 1,000 performers and 5,860 performances, how much bigger and how much better can this highlight of the Melbourne festival year get?

Kate McLennan and Wes Snelling waddled onto the stage, standing upright wrapped in a sheet and sharing a double bed. Their site specific work (Kate explained they couldn’t afford a venue) is performed in a hotel room. What’s the first thing you do when you walk into a hotel room? See ‘Standard Double’ and laugh out loud as you find out what Kate and Wes get up to; you may see yourself or get some new ideas..

Cast of School Dance Photo: Jim Lee
Cast of School Dance Photo: Jim Lee

Then there was the wild and woolly  boys from Adelaide’s Windmill Theatre, who offered a taste of their comic take on the eternal teenage challenge of gaining social acceptance. School Dance premiered in a sold out run at the Adelaide Festival in 2011 and won the 2012 Ruby Award for Best work.

The Adelaide based Windmill Theatre has been creating works that are, in their own words, ‘inspired by the vibrancy, sophistication and inventiveness of young people’ since 2002. Here’s your chance to catch a show that appeals as much to adults who remember, as to children, described by The Australian as ‘open-hearted and quick on its feet’.

This is the eighteenth Festival for Director Susan Provan and her enthusiasm is as infectious as ever.

We may be in the longest election campaign ever but we have the largest Melbourne Comedy Festival ever, offering distractions, diversions and opinions on everything. Our 2013 program is filled with treats and I urge every person who already loves comedy or who thinks that they could, to investigate it thoroughly.

Susan Provan – Director MICF

She makes it clear that the three and a half weeks that is the exhilarating mayhem of the Comedy Festival itself is only a small part of their overall program. During the other eleven months of the year they run programs such as Class Clowns, Raw Comedy, Deadly, and tour the Comedy Roadshow nationally and internationally.

This year’s Festival will, for the first time, see the winner of Raw Comedy India performing in the final Raw Comedy Grand Final on 14 April and later in the year the Comedy Roadshow will travel from Kununarra to Hobart, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

As always there will be ‘first time’ International guests lured here by Provan. Ruby Wax is someone Provan has long wanted to feature and this year Ruby will be here. Of course many favourites will be returning, including Stephen K Amos, Rich Hall, Nina Conti and of course Hannah Gadsby, turn to page 54 of the program, as she kept telling us.

There will be a host of home-grown favourites, among them Adam Hills, Kitty Flanagan and Judith Lucy and Denise Scott performing together (the mind boggles). All will be joined by a host of new comedians just beginning their climb to the top, including some who have made a hit on U tube.

With such a smorgasbord of comedy available, I suggest that you grab a program, they will be available from today (Saturday) in hard copy and of course on line at:


Find a quiet spot, maybe with a group of friends and a coffee and muffin, and take time to mine the wonders of this year’s festival offerings. When doing so, keep in mind the wise words of Susan Provan who suggests that the very best way to make the most of the festival is to select your five favourite performers and then, randomly select an equal number of new-comers. You never know but you may discover the next great comic before anyone else.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2013


Jan Chandler

Jan has been working freelance in the arts industry for some 15+ years in a variety of roles including: arts management; journalism (print, radio and online); publicity; and media relations. Passionate about the arts in all their variety, Jan has worked in film (production assistant; reviewer); dance (publicity; producer and presenter of 'Dance Dialogues - 3CR) and Board Member of Ausdance (Victoria)); performing arts (company manager, performer, reviewer, online editor). Jan had the honour of being the General Manager of Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre for some 18 months.

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