Heading To The MICF? Make Sure You Check Out These Local Comics

21 March 2019 | 4:14 pm | Maxim Boon

When it comes to the who’s who of ha-ha, plenty of Australia’s most talented comics hail from this fair city we call Melbourne. And because we know our readers love a bit of local knowledge, we’ve cherrypicked some of our favourite hometown heroes set to deliver the best jests at this year’s fest. Words by Maxim Boon.

Circus Oz: Neon and Bubblegum Cabaret

The acrobatic shenanigans of Circus Oz have long left audiences in raptures, but who knew they could have us rolling in the aisles with comedy too? The company is presenting not one, but two blockbusting shows at this year’s MICF. For adults only, Neon is a raunchy, racy, ridiculous romp through the long lunch of the 1980s. Expect shoulder pads for days, electro-pop floor fillers, and the dirtiest of dancing. And for those in search of something a little more family friendly, Bubblegum Cabaret has plenty of brilliant buffoonery, perfect for little comedy-seekers.

Neon plays from 12 Apr

Bubblegum Cabaret plays from 13 Apr


Reeni Inosha: Enlighten Me A Little

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Fringe followers may well have caught this show during its sold-out season at last year’s Fringe Festival, but for those who missed it, this bitingly funny anti-rom-com is back for a victory lap. Sri Lankan-born, Melbourne-raised Reeni Inosha lifts the veil on her culture’s attitude to gender, sex and relationships, and the ways Sri Lankan women are conditioned to view themselves as commodities; protecting your “market rate” is a constant preoccupation. If that sounds all a bit serious, Inosha unpacks this thorny subject with wit, physicality and a unique combo of sketch, stand-up and storytelling that’s both thought-provoking and damn funny.

From 8 April at Tasma Terrace


Anne Edmonds: What’s Wrong With You?

If you caught Edmonds’ MICF outing last year, we’re betting you’ve only just recovered from the merciless rib-tickling she dished out in the guise of Get Krackin’ style guru and certifiable risk to the public, Helen Bidou. This year, she’s back to herself... well, almost. Edmonds’ shtick, like many comedians, has commonly drawn on her personal experiences, but for her new show, she’s flipping the script like a stand-up Lazy Susan, turning the gaze of her comedy on the audience. But, if you need any more convincing, let’s put it this way: you don’t get nominated for the much-coveted Barry Award three years in a row by being meh.

From 28 Mar at Melbourne Town Hall


Rhys Nicholson: Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations

This master of mirth may be a relatively new addition to the roster of local comedians, but we’re fairly certain Melbourne’s stand-up fans won’t have too much of a problem welcoming this feisty, fruity, fabulous raconteur with open arms. Nicholson’s past few outings at MICF have seen him ‘fessing up about every juicy nook and cranny of his life, from his early childhood to his upcoming nuptials to fiance, ex-triple j presenter Kyran Wheatley. This year, he’s promised to be nice. But knowing the silver-tongue on this red-maned millennial gadfly, Nicholson’s nice is likely to be naughty.

From 28 Mar at Victoria Hotel


Michael Shafar: 50/50

If the past few years in comedy has proven anything at all, it’s that stand-up can channel some pretty serious stuff. We saw it in Richard Gadd’s Barry-nominated exploration of sexual abuse, Monkey See Monkey Do. We saw it Fiona O’Loughlin’s tell-all about her battle with addiction, Gap Year. And we saw it in Hannah Gadsby’s masterful Nanette. Here, Shafar shares his brush with mortality following a cancer diagnosis in 2017. Don’t worry, they’ll be laughs aplenty. But maybe a few tears too. $2 from every ticket sold will be donated to Cabrini Hospital in Malvern, where he was treated.

From 28 Mar at Victoria Hotel


Diana Nguyen: Dirty Diana

Nguyen is what’s known in the biz as a triple threat: she can sing, she can act, and she has virtually no inhibitions. Be warned, you shrinking violets, she has a particularly white-knuckle approach to audience participation. But it’s her mastery of the extempore repartee that makes her such a fearlessly funny presence behind the mic. This latest venture won’t be for the faint-hearted, but for those of you who see themselves as a Christiana-Aguilera-circa-2002 type, Nguyen‘s risque riffs, outrageous caricatures and thoroughly filthy comedic sensibilities will be right up your alley! As Nguyen admits, her nickname is DD. And that means “Slut Slut” in Vietnamese. Nuff said.

From 27 Mar at Storyville


Khaled Khalafalla: Delightful

When it comes to comedy CVs, they don’t get more impressive than Khaled Khalafalla’s. He’s appeared in top TV comedies including Upper Middle Bogan, Ali’s Wedding, Utopia and That’s Not My Dog. He’s played gigs all over the world, including entertaining Aussie troops in Afghanistan and appearing at the invite-only New York Comedy Festival. And he’s toured alongside stand-up superstar Jim Jefferies. So, needless to say: boy’s got game. But don’t be fooled by the disarming title of this latest show; Khalafalla jumps thigh-deep into the cringiest corners of Australia’s casual racism with enough oh-no-he-di’nt gags to put your eyebrows on the back of your head.

From 28 Mar at Trades Hall 

Handsdown Comedy: The Breast Of The Fest

It would be easy for this recommendation to crassly lean on lazy boob puns. For example, we could say this comedy revue is bigger and perkier than ever before. That its rotating line-up of six ascendant comedy talents sounds amazing, dozen tit? That they really know how to milk a crowd. But that would puerile and fall well beneath the lauded standards of this noble publication. Instead, it’s worth noting that Breast Of The Fest has nurtured – suckled, if you will – some of Aussie comedies loftiest luminaries in previous years, including the likes of Celia Pacquola, Geraldine Hickey and Claire Hooper. So, we’re sure this will be a bra-vissimo night of stand-up. Nipples.

From 28 Mar at Trades Hall

For more information on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, head to theGuide here.