Laughter in the streets

The 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back this month and is celebrating its milestone birthday with a dedicated exhibition, comedy quiz and an epic birthday bash.

A highly-anticipated and favoured event on Australia’s annual cultural calendar, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) brings to the city a huge program of stand-up comedy, cabaret, theatre, street performance, film, television, radio and visual arts.

From humble beginnings in 1987, the MICF has grown to be Australia’s largest cultural event, attracting crowds of more than 800,000.

This year’s festival will run from March 23 to April 17 and will see a monumental 535 shows performed across 121 venues, by over 2000 talented performers.

The special 30th birthday events will run alongside the general program and include a major exhibition celebrating the life and mood of the Comedy Festival, live panel discussions with comics and punters, a comedy quiz to crown Australia’s biggest comedy trivia buff, and a birthday party of epic proportions featuring a line-up of big-name artists who have contributed to the festival over the years.

Given the multitude of hilarity on offer, the hard part is obviously in the choosing but, with the festival running over almost four weeks in 2016, there is ample time to get to a few (or a dozen) shows.

International talent who will be gracing stages across the city include the likes of Arj Barker, Ross Noble, Sarah Millican, Paul Foot and Mae Martin. And confirmed local comic favourites include Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Wil Anderson, Dave Hughes, Em Rusciano, Lawrence Leung, Felicity Ward and Tripod.

There will also be a host of emerging artists hitting the stage. If you find yourself at the box office staring aimlessly at the myriad “sold out” signs, do a lap or two outside and take a punt on one of the up-and-comers handing out discounted (sometimes free) tickets. You could strike lucky and catch the debut of a comic genius.

Venues are dotted around the CBD and city fringe, and vary from laneway bars to band rooms and gallery spaces. With the spread of venues from one end of the city to the other, attending the festival is also a great opportunity to try a new dining spot or post-show watering hole. Keep an eye out for venues offering specials and discounts to ticketholders.

With shows to suit everyone’s comic taste and a range of content suitable for all ages, the MICF attracts comedy lovers from all backgrounds and every corner of the country and connects us all through of one of life’s greatest pleasures – having a laugh.

Visit www.comedyfestival.com.au for ticketing information, dining and drinking offers and to view the full program.

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