Celebrating the freshest, fiercest and funniest new Indigenous talent from around the country, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Deadly Funny National Final and Showcase took place on Saturday at Arts Centre Melbourne.
The winner for 2017 was Ghenoa Gela (NSW) whose re-enactment of a “shake a leg” dance” had the audience in stitches. Runner up went to Dion Williams (VIC) with Martin Adams (NT) coming in third place. Now in its 11th year, the competition took place in every state and territory in Australia with 14 finalists selected from a series of workshops and heats taking the stage to compete for the National Deadly Funny title and a $2000 cash prize.
Gela joins the ranks of the country’s favourite Indigenous comedians including 2016 Deadly Funny National Final winner, Jalen Sutcliffe, and previous winners Nina Kirby, Stephanie Tisdell, Tristan Savage, Kevin Kropinyeri, Shiralee Hood, Mia Stanford and Denise McGuinness who have each taken the title since the competition began in 2007.
“This year we witnessed an overwhelmingly diverse showcase of comedic talent that we can truly be proud of,” said Deadly Funny producer Wes Snelling said after the event. “All on stage proved that being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is richly complicated and that while connected by land and community, everyone is different – and it is ok to laugh at this!”
“Our deadly comedians shared, declared and charmed the audience via the vessel of comedy. Deadly Funny is a huge opportunity that gives voice and provides access and connection to what it means to be an Australian right now.”
The Deadly Funny National Final and Showcase is the grand final event for the competition that unearths and recognises bright and bold new talent from all over the country, and the only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy competition.
Since January heats and finals have taken place around the nation. At each session comedians, including Andy Saunders, Kevin Kropinyeri, Shiralee Hood, Rachel Berger and Sean Choolburra, offered tips and advice on how to develop performance techniques before the hopeful performers took to the stage in front of live audiences.
The 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival continues to Sunday 23 April. For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Ghenoa Gela – photo by Jim Lee