Melbourne International Comedy Festival celebrates 30 years with launch of 2016 program

Sean Murphy Kids Party ConfidentialThe 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival program has been revealed with a monumental number of shows and comedians confirmed to celebrate and entertain audiences during the annual salute to hilarity.

In 1987 an idea was hatched to create a festival to showcase and celebrate Melbourne’s groundbreaking comedy and cabaret venues and the performers who inhabited them. From its humble beginnings with 56 shows across 33 venues, the Melbourne Comedy Festival has become one of the most loved events on Australia’s cultural calendar and one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world.

Now, 30 years on, from 23 March to 17 April, comedy lovers from across the country will descend on Melbourne for almost four weeks to soak up a selection from 535 shows, performed in 121 venues, totaling more than 6603 performances by over 2,000 hilarious and talented performers throughout the Festival.

“A milestone birthday is cause for celebration, reflection and inspiration. Audiences and performers alike are looking forward to enjoying a festival they have all contributed to creating and growing,” says Melbourne Comedy Festival Director Susan Provan. “Of course achieving the Big Three-Oh encourages us to look forward. We’re thinking about What Next?  Exciting times!”

Alongside the traditional program of comedy shows, the Festival will celebrate 30 years of laughs with several very special events. In conjunction with Arts Centre Melbourne, the Festival is curating a major exhibition taking us from the 1987 launch with Peter Cook and Sir Les Patterson, through backstage, behind the scenes shots and much-loved costumes, to artwork, audio visual content and weekly live discussions, all capturing the life and mood of the Comedy Festival.

And no milestone would be complete without one big party. To celebrate the Festival and the performers whose fearless imaginations have brought us three decades of good times, we are throwing one epic 30th Birthday Bash. A massive line-up of comedy superstars past, present and future will take to the stage of the historic Regent Theatre for one night only. There will definitely be a few surprises.

Australia’s favourite comics will grace the city’s many stages throughout the month including; Celia Pacquola, Anthony Morgan, Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Tommy Little, Frank Woodley, Wil Anderson, Tom Gleeson, Sam Simmons, Peter Helliar, Damien Power, Dave Thornton, Dave Hughes, Steen Raskopoulos, Tom Ballard, Anne Edmonds, Joel Creasey, Matt Okine, Nick Cody, Carl Barron, Akmal, Em Rusciano, Lehmo, Lawrence Leung, Adam Richard, Nazeem Hussain, Ali McGregor, Charlie Pickering, Fiona O’Loughlin, Felicity Ward, Sammy J & Randy and Tripod.

International stars and much loved favourites returning to their adopted city of comedy are: Rich Hall, Sarah Millican, Sara Pascoe, Danny Bhoy, Penny Arcade, David O’Doherty, Arj Barker, Stephen K Amos, Ongals, Urzila Carlson, Luisa Omielan, Ross Noble and Paul Foot. Big names touching down for the very first time include Bridget Everett, Mae Martin, Hall Cruttenden, Igor Meerson, Larry Dean, Adam Hess, Sofie Hagen, Sara Schaefer, and many many more.

Beyond the walls of the quintessential Melbourne Town Hall, the Festival will sprawl throughout the quirkiest and most iconic venues in the city including: The Famous Spiegeltent, The Coopers Malthouse, The Comedy Theatre, The State Library of Victoria, Roxanne, The Greek Centre, Highlander, Howler, Imperial Hotel and over 100 more.

Nationally renowned programs return that have paved the careers of many Australian performers turned international comedy stars including: RAW Comedy (Australia’s largest and most popular open mic competition), Class Clowns (workshops and comedy competition for teens) and Deadly Funny (developing and showcasing Indigenous comedy).

Upfront Gala (celebrating the glamorous women of comedy), Oxfam Gala, Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow, Comedy Zone, Comedy Zone Asia and for families and children, the hugely popular free and outdoor event The (Very) Big Laugh Out returns alongside Comedy Club for Kids.

The 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs 23 March to 17 April. For more information, and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Sean Murphy – Kids Party Confidential (supplied)