Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2016

Various venues around Melbourne, 23 March-17 April

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back again from now until 17 April! But this time, it’s a little different. This time it’s hit the big 3-0. It’s grown up in the way we all grow up – in denial.

If you want some context around just how old this festival is, just watch this adorably wobbly old video from way back when, of the official opening of the festival.

It’s come a long way in the last 30 years, growing from 56 shows in its first year to more than 500 this year. Now, it’s the third largest comedy festival in the world (behind Edinburgh and Montreal).

While the plethora of shows on offer (there are 2000 performers across 121 venues) is a gold mine, it’s also, like all mining activities, rather treacherous ploughing through the monstrous program to find what you’re after. Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for!

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Top 2016 Picks

Melbourne’s comedy festival has a spiffing line-up of talent. There are the home favourites:

  • Claire Hooper
  • Peter Helliar
  • Dave Hughes
  • Lehmo
  • Akmal Saleh
  • Tom Gleeson
  • Wil Anderson
  • Carl Barron
  • Catherine Deveny
  • Charlie Pickering
  • Tripod
  • The Umbilical Brothers
  • Frank Woodley (who performed in the first ever MICF at the unripe age of 19)…

And there are big international names, including Arj Barker, Danny Bhoy, Jimeoin, Ross Noble, Stephen K Amos and Ronny Chieng. And there are debut artists, such as Hue Blanes and the Moon.

But if you’re looking for a bit of inspo, here are some of the top acts billed for 2016:

Sam Simmons

Not a People Person, Forum Theatre, 23 March-4 April

In 2015, this comedian took out the Best Comedy Show title at both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF). Once told his comedy style was simply too weird, Sam Simmons is now profiting from his surreal edge. Make note, it’s not for everyone. Watch the video below before you go booking tickets!

Wil Anderson

Fire at Wil, The Comedy Theatre, 23 March-17 April

If you want any proof that Wil Anderson’s may be a worthwhile gig to go to, consider that the man has won the festival’s People’s Choice Award 5 years out of 6. You may know him from one of his previous MICF shows, or as his host role on the ABC’s Gruen Transfer.

Corey White

The Cane Toad Effect, Forum Theatre, 12-17 April

Fellow Aussie Corey White has been something of an unexpected success at the MICF by turning his dark childhood into fuel for comedy. He did it so particularly well that last year, he was awarded the Best Newcomer for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015. He went on to receive critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Ronny Chieng

You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About, Melbourne Town Hall, 31 March-1 April

Ronny Chieng has seen consistent success as a rapid-fire stand-up comedian. He ran away with the Best Show at the Sydney Comedy Festival in 2014, the Director’s Choice Award at the MICF in 2014, and nominations for two ARIA Awards and two Helpmann Awards.

He’s come back to Melbs to perform the same show he did back in 2015. Hey, if it works…

Brian Lobel

Purge, Malthouse Theatre, 30 March-3 April

Brian has created some unusual, inventive comedy routines in the past, one of which included gathering together a jury of strangers to give final judgement on whether he should keep or delete each one of his 1342 Facebook friends.

The 27th Annual Great Debate

Melbourne Town Hall, 9 April, 3pm

As its title would suggest, the Great Debate isn’t quite as old as the festival, but it’s an institution nonetheless. Split comedians into two teams and get them to battle out an often absurd topic.

Arguments can often spiral quickly out of control, with few rules driving the show and all manner of props and back-up supports allowed.

It’s all kept hush-hush until the big night, but for those who miss out, don’t worry – it’s broadcasted on TV later.

For more information, including the full program and how to buy tickets, check out the official Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.

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