Melbourne International Comedy Festival - a recap

Just got back from ten days in Melbourne, was a great beer and walking infused time largely enhanced by glorious Victorian sunshine while new South Wales was under water. Whilst catching up with friends from inside and outside 'the comedy world' I managed to catch about twenty shows in all, some acts that were new to me others that I know from running The Comedy Lounge. Having seen some of them piece together their shows through the year was great to then witness the culmination of their work at the Festival.

Everything I saw was top notch and there were so many that I missed, a few of whom will be coming to Sydney in a week or so thank god...

Here's a lovely selection of my favourite comedians you might have never heard of but really should get into... It was hard to narrow this list down so i though I'd concentrate on Aussie based acts, not because I'm a comedy racist but because most of the international acts are pretty well known already...

Asher Treleaven - I'd heard of Asher through a friend Viv who performed in his part comedy part burlesque Edinburgh Fringe show Comic Strip. For sheer all round entertainment value his 2012 show Troubadour was hard to beat. He's a dapper, salubrious gent with a great turn of phrase and a spot on physical ability for comedy (thanks partly to three years at circus college).

The show was essentially a biographical piece where Asher was able to showcase all of his talents in six different stages using Edward De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats theory as it's frame. The show's many highlights include a brilliant description of his 'freaky' genitals and a extremely funny segment where his ricockulous diablo skills are the focus of the crowd's attention, before he sums up the result of his circus training brilliantly:

"10,000 dollars for a six minute dick joke.."

Claudia O'Doherty - Having seen and cried man laughter tears during What is Soil Erosion at the Belvoir earlier in the year I made sure that one of the first shows I went to was Claudia's latest offering The Telescope.

It's a brilliantly chaotic and silly affair where Claudia attempts to make a break from 'The Nuthouse': a domineering organisation who spot, train and then force all of the world's comedians into a three year "cheer jerking" contract. This is Claudia's third 'Nuthouse' show and she's had enough, deciding to make a break from her comedy shackles with a show that re-invents her schtick as a genre she's calling "difficult theatre".

Everything goes tits up though when she stuffs up her lines forcing her to utilise her 'cheer' jerking training to the max x squared. She manages to draw laughs continually with the show's absurdity, her awkward 'improvised' material and hilarious physicality as a performer.

Ronny Chieng - There was buzz about Ronny's show, The Ron Way after the first week of the festival, which meant he sold out the tiny 40 seat room at the Trades Hall for his entire run just half way through the festival.

This guy is mega funny from the second he walks onto the stage. He imposes himself on the audience from the get go drawing laughs out immediately by describing his show as "sucking balls"... in a good, non-homophobic and positive way, Before launching into material that continually slays the tight set crowd of 40.

His joke about his personal bathroom habits will I think go down as my favourite at this year's festival and his well balanced crowd interaction, toeing the line expertly between direct rudeness and joviality, was brilliant to behold as an aspiring comedian.

Zoe Coombs Marr -  I didn't know anything about Zoe as a performer before I went into the show, just that she'd been nominated as best newcomer the year before, so perhaps unsurprisingly my curiosity paid off big styles. She's an instantly engaging comedic performer with a fantastic story about an attempt at self discovery gone wrong.

The story of how after a tumultuous break up she legs it to Coober Pedy and learns absolutely nothing about herself, is in my view, a refreshingly honest and very funny thumb of the nose to those annoying travellers who seem to arrive back from their travels awash with tenuous tales of spiritual discovery.

Luke Heggie - I managed to catch Luke's show Master of None last night. He's been a firm favourite of the Comedy Lounge (that's what i call myself now) since he headlined here in January. His sardonic delivery and ability to rip apart all things shit with excellently written material is intimidatingly good.

It was great to see how he pieced together the material I'd seen him perform around Sydney leading up to Melbourne. One of the most consistently high gag hit per minutes rate at the festival, he effortlessly flits between shit job related anecdotes strewn with sharp gags and wordplay.

Matt Okine - Along with Ronny and Luke, Matt has been deservedly nominated for Best Newcomer (I missed Tegan Higginbotham's show I'm sad to say). Another comedian I've seen heaps around Sydney Matt's a natural on stage. Being Black and Chicken and S@#t is the culmination of a year's hard work for Matt.

He hates dangerous sea animals, especially crabs and jellyfish his description of death by the world deadliest jelly fish is gold. The story he tells about a father son crabbing trip gone South is ace.

More important, arguably, than the Best newcomer nomination is the fact that Matt's also been nominated for Cleo's bachelor of the year award. Votes for him here.