The Must See Acts Of The 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

23 March 2016 | 3:59 pm | Staff Writer

Your new favourite comics

Ready for the Lol-athon that is the annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

Well, here's some shows that our team at theMusic reckons you should add to you list of must-sees. We are never wrong, we know what's funny — ask our mums.

anne edmonds: that’s eddotainment!

I don’t know if I’ve laughed as hard watching any other Australian comic as I did watching Anne Edmonds last year. She made my sides physically hurt. It may have been the sections about having a Catholic mother, substituting affection for ham. It may have been because of the moment where she picked up a banjo or took on one of many characters, it may have been because of her story of taking a hangover with her onto the plane on the way to a family vacation. I saw my future self in her, and I didn’t feel bad about it.

So inevitably her new show will be just as good, and we’ll all have a good chuckle.

Credentials? National Finalist in RAW Comedy, nominated for Best Emerging Comedy Talent at Adelaide Fringe, winner of the Piece Of Wood Award (best show, as voted by a committee of comedians) for the show described above at last year’s MICF. Oh and she supported Marc Maron on tour. HS

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24 Mar – 17 Apr, Cloak Room, Melbourne Town Hall

Brian Lobel: Purge

The other week I experienced a moment of intimacy with Brian Lobel. I was sitting across from him on a king-size bed in the Sydney Opera House foyer. We (five of us) each had a (quite potent) cosmo. And we were talking about our love lives and how Carrie et al from Sex And The City could help. Lobel gave me some good advice, made me feel like I was part of some secret group, whispering and giggling and trying to make our way in the world.

Purge is not that. But it’ll probably be pretty good considering how good that was.

“Dear Friend, or rather, Dear Former Friend. This email is to notify you that we are no longer Facebook friends…”

In 2011 Lobel enlisted a jury of strangers in a range of cafes to help him cull his 1342 people-strong Facebook contact list. 50 hours of performance + 800 emails + 2500 internet comments = this work, “an interactive performance lecture”, exploring exactly how we interact with social media, and the nature of friendship in 2016. HS

30 Mar – 3 Apr, Beckett Theatre, Malthouse Theatre

Becky Lucas: Baby

Honestly Becky Lucas did a sterling job working the crowd at Spectrum Now’s A Night Of Stand-Up With The Workaholics. Considering the crowd was largely made up of punters unfamiliar with her work (and feeling jipped because it wasn’t an exclusively Workaholics show), her jokes about y’know, being a young woman, and the men that inevitably surround you, and make your life a goddamn pain, actually made a mark – more than a few people will be buying tix to her solo show to hear more of her incisive, maybe too real barbs.

It’s Lucas’ second show at the festival, after being a RAW Comedy National Finalist in 2013, and debuting her full-length set High Tide last year. Oh and she’s opened for Joel Creasey and Wil Anderson. Aimed at “people who haven’t sorted out their life yet”, the self-described “lazy feminist” may even make you think. HS

24 Mar – 17 Apr, Acacia Room, Victoria Hotel

Kyle Kinane: Terrestrial Woes

The voice of Comedy Central, Kyle Kinane is quickly making a name for himself as a force to be reckoned with on the small screen, most recently starring in Judd Apatow’s Netflix series Love, as well as past stints on Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers and Drunk History.

When he first took on MICF, he walked away with a well-deserved Barry award and his return follows an extensive run at Edinburgh.

He’s scruffy and lovable and delivers comedy with a husky chuckle, making comedy gold out of the most trivial everyday situations, as evident by his latest stand-up special, I Liked His Old Stuff Better. Kinane has come a long way since his first TV appearance on The Nanny. DC

11 Apr, Melbourne Town Hall; 12 Apr – 17 Apr, Roxanne

susie youssef: check youssef before you wreck youssef

A sketch and stand-up show from a Sydney favourite and regular at Giant Dwarf and the Comedy Store. Youssef’s got skill as an improviser, having studied the form in Chicago and Atlanta, and even running an improv theatre school out of the venue with fellow comics/sketch performers like Steen Raskopoulos.  

Not from Sydney? You’ve seen her – in Axis Of Awesome video clips, on ABC’s How Not To Behave, The Checkout, and maybe even heard her on triple j. Or maybe you caught her at Splendour In The Grass?

This is her third show full-length solo show, so if you’re keen on seeing something that’s not just an older man mumbling about the youths on stage, Youssef’s work might be just right for you – and maybe she’ll even maybe you like audience participation (trust me, Youssef is so warm as a performer you’ll want her to choose you). HS

24 Mar – 17 Apr, Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall

Steve Poltz: Folk Singer

Canadian-born folk singer-turned-globetrotter Steve Poltz is an interesting character.

He got his start in the early ‘90s with The Rugburns, and went on to co-write megahit You Were Meant For Me with Jewel.

Since then he’s spent a large amount of time touring the world with an acoustic guitar and letting his insane imagination run wild; catching him live is like watching a kid hopped up on sugar, telling hilarious stories that weave in and out of reality.

He returned to Australia in 2015 after having a stroke the previous year and his 2016 run sees him back in fine form with the same unbridled enthusiasm and energy. DC

5 Apr – 10 Apr, Athenaeum Theatre

bridget everett: pound it

Have you watched Inside Amy Schumer? Remember the baby shower scene in Trainwreck? Remember the wedding make-up artist in Girlsa few weeks ago? Yes, yes and yes? Then you are familiar with the work of loud New York comedian Bridget Everett. 

Oh yeah, you may want to avoid sitting close to the front. AM

24 March - 3 April, Max Watts

Ronny Chieng: You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

Australia frequently delivers world-class comedy and the past year for Malaysian-born, Melbourne funnyman Ronny Chieng is a prime example that quality. After working rooms around Australia for several years and upgrading with each run as well as supporting comedy legends Bill Burr and Dave Chappelle, he was picked up as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah in 2015, which saw him uproot in a hurry and move to New York for the amazing opportunity.

He had to cancel a run of shows when the news broke, but he’s giving fans another chance to witness You Don't Know What You're Talking About.

Chieng won Best Show at the Sydney Comedy Festival 2014 and the Directors' Choice Award at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2014 as well as being nominated for numerous ARIA and Helpmann awards. His ABC pilot, Ronny Chieng: International Student, will premiere this year. DC

31 Mar – 1 Apr, Main Hall, Melbourne Town Hall

SAMEENA ZEHRA: homicidal pacifist

Zehra crept up on us at last year's MICF with her political zingers that should keep you thinking and sniggering long after the curtain falls. The talk comes fast and the talk gets dark - the talk can make you uncomfortable... we like that. One reviewer compared her to Bill Hicks (unsurprisingly that one gets used in the promotional material... I mean, who wouldn't). It's a big call but we reckon she's a next big thing type. AM

5 April - 17 April, Upstairs Lounge @ Little Sista

HS = Hannah Story

DC = Dan Cribb

AM = Andrew Mast