What’s HOT at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Theatre Works Arena Theatre Robot Song - photo by Jolyon JamesBoasting a record-breaking line-up of 616 shows in over 100 venues and totaling more than 7,700 performances across 26-days, the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) has kicked off for its 33rd year. With so much on offer, Australian Arts Review takes a look at fifteen shows worth checking out:

Alice Frazer: MYTHOS
Melbourne Town Hall: continues to 21 April 2019
Alice Fraser is a word geek, polymath, ex-academic and ex-corporate lawyer, and has built a reputation for doing comedy that is not just comedy – genre bending, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, life affirming, existential, challenging, sometimes filthy and occasionally musical. In MYTHOS, Alice comes to terms with stories, myths and lies. She knows she’s been lying to herself. But haven’t we all? It started a long time ago. Like… a really long time ago. In her new comedic experiment MYTHOS, Alice takes on the stories and lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Amos Gill: Almost Famos
Melbourne Town Hall / Swiss Club: continues to 21 April 2019
He traded brekky radio for a comedy career in LA and has just performed to a sold-out crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Now Adelaide’s favourite ex-brekky host Amos Gill is back for another festival stint at MICF before he returns to the dirty streets of California to melt the minds of US comedy lovers! With a brand new hour of gut-bustingly funny comedy every year, the ridiculously prolific Amos has already made a name for himself in the States, where he performs a few times a year at all the hottest comedy clubs in LA. Amos is at his best with an hour of stand-up and no contractual restrictions.

Arena Theatre: Robot Song
Theatre Works: continues to 13 April 2019
Robot Song introduces us to Juniper, a smart 11-year-old whose world is turned upside down when the arm of a giant robot appears on her doorstep and takes her on an unexpected journey to find the rest of its body. Surprised by the robot’s revelation that it has only ever wanted to sing, Juniper learns flexibility and unexpected outcomes are sometimes exactly what you need. Robot Song is drawn from writer director Jolyon James’ experience raising a child on the Autism Spectrum. In celebrating Juniper’s unique way of interpreting the world Robot Song provides a window for all young people to recognise and embrace the differences within themselves and others. Using live animation, animatronics and with original music Robot Song will be an incredible new work for ages 8 – 12 years.

Blake Everett: Greatest Hit(s)
Tasma Terrace: continues to 31 March 2019

In 2016, Blake was ‘king hit’ out front of a Frankston cinema, and he hopes that isn’t his greatest hit (hence the title). The incident led to coverage in The Age, The Daily Mail and on Channel 7, 9 and 10, against a background of social and political discussion around a spate of one-punch incidents. Now, in 2019, Blake is bringing his most personal show yet to this year’s comedy festival.

Ciaran Lyons: What’s Next?
Fad Gallery / Melbourne Town Hall: continues to 21 April 2019
An awkward experience at a massage parlour in Thailand, a housemate with all the traits of a serial killer and obtaining a stalker… Ciaran Lyons (triple j, The Project) had a big 2018! Come hear about it in his latest show. One of Australia’s fastest-rising stand-up comedy stars and media personalities, at just 16 years of age Ciaran was awarded Next Gen Comedian by the Perth Comedy Festival. He has since taken out a slew of awards and hand-picked by MICF or the prestigious Comedy Zone showcase. With televised stand-up performances on ABC TV’s Comedy Bites and triple j’s Good Az Friday live show, Ciaran is also an in-demand podcast guest and regularly presents on triple j, where he has been heard solo hosting every show from the early morning shift to the Breakfast Show and Drive.

Diana Nguyen: Dirty Diana
Storyville Melbourne: continues to 21 April 2019
Diana Nguyen is back from the Edinburgh Fringe & Adelaide Fringe Festivals with Dirty Diana! She is back in her hometown to talk all about the dirty. Diana has performed all over Australia, Orange County USA and Edinburgh Scotland with her co created 4.5 Star theatre show, Phi and Me and standup show, Naked in 2016. She has appeared on ABC Q&A show, Fox Footy and Friday Front bar and other prostitute roles on Australian TV.

Emily Tresidder: Just Doing It
Melbourne Town Hall / Trades Hall: continues to 21 April 2019

Emily Tresidder has her own way of doing things, and she’s been just doing it for years. If you haven’t had the honour of a Tresidder experience then now is your chance. There’s nothing like it and it can’t be missed. Just Doing It is the fifth solo show for Emily, whose natural ability to engage and entertain has won her fans and glowing reviews at comedy festivals across Australia and the UK. Captivating audiences both in Australia and the UK, Emily is back with another fantastic hour of observational fun, physicality and lots of laughs.

Esther Hicks is “Vibrationally” Speaking
Laneway Learning Melbourne: 11 – 14 April 2019
Esther Hicks is speaking vibrationally! But Esther is not Esther. Abraham (non-physical entities of infinite intelligence) are speaking through Esther. Then there’s her husband, Jerry, who also has something to say. For one week only, they’ll help you be on the ‘leading edge’, ‘vibrate’ and ‘get into the vortex’! Are you ready to listen? Then let the manifestation begin! This outrageous show performed by Claire Pearson & Kyle Walmsley is a satirical send up of the original Law of Attraction gurus, Esther and Jerry Hicks.

Frankie McNair & Maddy Weeks: Constantly Screaming
Crowded in the Vaults – Pilgrim Bar: 8 – 21 April 2019
Frankie McNair and Maddy Weeks are two mates with a lot of hates. Between them they have 48 years of things to scream about. Life is weird and wonderful and also sometimes sh!t and confusing! Let’s scream about it! Frankie McNair blurs the lines between stand-up, physical comedy and a Liza Minnelli fever dream. She’s been screaming on stage since 2017, performed to sell out crowds as part of ACT Like A Lady, sold out her headliner show at Polit Bar and was a RAW Comedy State Finalist. She’s also known for being half of comedy duo Sweaty Pits and their award-winning show, Pity Party. Maddy Weeks is a Canberra-based comedian, born and bred in the Big Merino’s shadow, and has now been screaming on stage for three years! She has performed in sold-out shows at the Canberra and Melbourne Comedy Festivals as a member of comedy troupe ACT Like a Lady and was a 2018 RAW Comedy State Finalist.

Head First Acrobats: Elixir
The Famous Spiegeltent: 29 March – 21 April 2019
Elixir is circus with a difference! Uninhibited by cliché or expectation, subversive and hilarious, the story follows three enthusiastic acrobatic scientists who attempt to create the elixir of life. The mayhem that follows is a beautiful mix of incredible acrobatics and impeccable comic timing. The boys are here with their blend of breathtaking skills, hilarious antics and sweaty muscles. Remember to breathe, this is brinkmanship at its best. You’ll feel the heat, see the sweat and won’t believe your eyes. Winner Best Circus & Physical Theatre 2018 Adelaide Fringe.

Jeff Green: Letters Home
Melbourne Town Hall: continues to 21 April 2019
Award-winning UK comedian Jeff Green brings his extraordinary new show to MICF. More than ‘just’ an hour of Festival favourite Jeff’s trademark rapid-fire stand-up, Letters Home is a series of warm and hilarious monologues to his family back in England. In homage to the memories of those separated souls and reflecting on his own experience abruptly leaving the UK ten years ago, Jeff’s Letters Home will be ten letters, delivered in this case as monologues to his family back in Britain.

Neil Triffitt: Misery
Tasma Terrace: 15 – 21 April 2019
Neil Triffett, creator of Netflix’s Emo the Musical, presents a painful romp through the heartache and unhappiness people cause themselves. From dead dogs to accountants, true love to drowning at sea, Neil is ready to tackle all of human suffering. Armed with just a ukulele and a piano, Neil will attempt to find the root cause of human suffering, sharing stories about his own misery, the misery of others and, on the upbeat nights, your misery too.

Ron Funches Live
Comic’s Lounge: 16 – 20 April 2019
Razor-sharp yet soft and cuddly like a baby’s blanket, Ron Funches is a hugely in-demand US comedian who frequently headlines shows across the US, UK and Canada. Ron regularly performs stand-up on The Conan O’Brien Show and The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and his first TV special, The Half Hour on Comedy Central, was ranked as the 11th-best of 2014 by Vulture. With a unique low-key delivery, incisive punchlines and shrewd set-ups that led the New York Times to declare that he ‘purrs like a kitty cat, stings like a bee’, don’t miss Ron Funches on his Australian debut!

Tahir: You Had One Job!
Comic’s Lounge: 2 – 14 April 2019
Tahir explores the stupidity of the funniest animal on the planet – humans. Dumb jobs, stupid actions and hard to believe decisions from an animal that is apparently on top of the food chain. The male species is especially guilty of butchering, getting wrong and not understanding simple jobs and tasks. Tahir will explore the complex psyche of the human mind in hilarious fashion as he takes you through a roller coaster and thought-provoking ride full of laughs and surprises – all delivered by a world-class award-winning stand-up comedian.

Tash York: Adulting
Trades Hall: continues to 21 April 2019
If you’ve ever been engaged at 19 or racked up parking fines worth a house deposit, then like Tash York you’ve probably not mastered Adulting. Known for her ballsy voice, witty repartee and wine-loving antics, award-winning cabaret artist Tash York (The DesperettesThe After Hours Cabaret Club, These Things Take Wine) explores why growing up is so hard!

The 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival continues to 21 April. For more information and full program, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Robot Song – photo by Jolyon James