Your local comedy festival guide

By Michael Burke

Don’t just throw your hands in the air and yell “forget it!”

Take a chance and try out a new show, something you haven’t heard of before.  There are some wonderful venues around town to try, my favourite independent venue is Tuxedo Cat. There you will find exciting independent shows with my favourite vibe all festival.

Paring this list down to a few names is very difficult. There are about 400 Australians playing the festival, and numerous internationals. If a friend recommends a show this festival, go see it. If they don’t, I have some sneaky recommendations of shows that you mightn’t have heard of, but definitely need to.

(Eight shows in eight venues, in no particular order)

Laura Davis: Marco. Polo. 9.30pm (8.30pm, Sundays) ACMI. March 24 – April 17. $20-$25
Laura Won the Golden Gibbo in 2015 (for Best Independent Show). It was an absolute favourite of mine, combining wonderfully dark comedy and thought to perfection. A show about trust and finding connection in people.
For: Lovers of stand-up with a thoughtful twist. Must see.

Juan Vesuvius Calypso Nights: Juan, Two?  9.45pm (8.45pm, Sundays) Roxanne. March 24 – April 17. $21-$27
Calypso Nights was one of my top five shows of 2015. You find yourself delving into the depths of calypso music with Juan. Absurd character comedy combined with DJing will have you dancing. Very fun, great for anyone who loves a party.
For: Those who love music and character comedy.

Mike Goldstein: Does Words Good. 10pm. Fort Delta. March 23 – April 16. $20
Mike has toured all over Australia with his stand-up. Brash and blunt comedy. Part American part Australian comedian. Jokes you’ll want to steal and to tell your friends.
For: Those who want solid no frills stand-up. Not for those who get easily offended.

Ben Russell and Xavier Michelides: Nö Shöw. 11.15pm. Imperial Hotel. March 23 – April 17. $15-$20
Ben and Xavier are two wonderfully absurd character comics. Ben won critics hearts in 2015 with his hit show Tokyo Hotel that travelled to Edinburgh. Xavier is part skit part stand-up. Madness, despair and failure are all themes here.
For:  Those who want sketch and brilliant laughter, but also want to think.

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical. 7pm (6pm Sunday). Trades Hall. March 24 – April 3. $20-$24
The Impromptunes show that having an idea is simple. Give them a name of show that has never been seen before, and they will make an improvised musical from it. Hilarious and wonderfully clever. A tight group of performers. I hate musicals and I loved it.
For: Those wanting to see some improv comedy and musical theatre, for anyone.

Penny Greenhalgh Piranha Banana: Llamarama. 9.45pm (8.45pm Sunday). Forum Theatre. April 5 – April 17. $15-$20
I saw Penny at Adelaide Fringe 2015, since then she has been nominated for and won many awards. She is a Gaulier-school-trained clown. Really physical comedy, excited to see what her second show brings.
For: Those looking for physical comedy, with a twist.

Neal Portenza: Tracey. 9.30pm (8.30pm Sundays). Melbourne Town Hall. March 24 – April 17. $18-$24.
Every single one of Neal’s shows is the most psychotic experience I have ever endured. Don’t go into this show as a passive observer. You are the show. Prepare for potentially the most exhilarating show of the festival … or the most confusing.
For: Those who want to be active participants (really active participants).

Clara Cupcakes: Hot Patootie. Butterfly Club. 8.30pm. March22 – April 3. $25-$32.
A choose your own adventure show. Nominated for the Golden Gibbo in 2015. It is burlesque, it is costumes, it is comedy, it is fun. The Butterfly Club is also a venue to see, if you haven’t been there.
For: Those wanting comedy on the side of burlesque. A real treat.

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