🤣 MICF Review Roundup | Part Two

It's the funniest month of the year, Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

🤣 MICF Review Roundup | Part Two

⭐⭐⭐️ Not Here To Put Socks on Centipedes | Mel Buttle

While Mel Buttle is known for spoofing middle-aged mums on TikTok as ‘Lynn,’ her standup show sees her excavate her own experiences of motherhood and growing up in the 80s. It’s a well constructed set of observational standup which is instantly relatable to any new parent. Highlights include stories of her experiences with ADHD and sperm donations. A fun evening with TikTok’s favourite mum. 

Town Hall

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Opening Night Comedy Allstars Show

Exactly what it says on the tin. An excitingly diverse lineup of international and local comics. Highlights included Chloe Petts, Urooj Ashfaq, Zainab Johnson, and Geraldine Hickey. A great way to figure out who’s to watch at the festival, and figure out the rest of your schedule.


⭐⭐⭐️ Too Haram to Handle | Annie Louey and Mohammed Magdi

A shockingly accurate title for a show I really wanted to love. Too Haram to Handle is a double bill, featuring Annie Louey and Mohammed Magdi. Magdi’s first joke of the evening consisted of asking a masked audience member whether they had AIDS which… may in fact be too Haram for me to handle (I mean AIDS jokes in 2024? Really?). The rest of his set was engaging if a little abrasive, detailing his experiences moving from Egypt to Hong Kong and his life there. Louey’s set detailed the way the pair met and her experiences visiting China. Altogether a dissonant but interesting evening of standup.

Town Hall

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Shark Heist | Cam Venn

It’s hard to describe Shark Heist. It’s storytelling, but participatory, but some of it’s improv, but also it’s a campy heist movie, but basically it’s really funny. Really really really funny. Cam Venn is a masterful guide through the zany world of Shark Heist, and he establishes a comfortable and safe relationship with the audience,such that even the shyest amongst us felt comfortable participating in some way. Venn invites the audience up to take on roles, performing and improvising with him, and it works phenomenally. Not many comedians could surrender so much of their show with their audience, and trust that they’ll give it their all, but Venn manages to do it. It’s heartwarming and nostalgic and joyous and so so so campy. Wish I could see it again.

Motley Bauhaus

⭐⭐⭐️ Can I Be Mean for a Minute? | Aurelia St Claire

I was initially drawn to Aurelia St Claire because of her insightfully hilarious TikToks which spoofed life in Narrm (Melbourne). Their laconic sense of humour suits the platform well, but struggles to fill a an hour long set. Her lively set however added nuance and depth to her character that we don’t see as much online, stories about their marriage, job history, and dating are fun and engaging. In contrast however, a low point was a bit where she shared headlines from Reddit with us to judge whether the posters were assholes or not. While their personality is enchanting and engaging, there’s not enough here to make the hour feel as fulfilling as her TikTok does. 

Chinese Museum

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Queerstories | Maeve Marsden

For years now, Maeve Marsden’s Queerstories has cut across divides in the LGBTQI+ community to present diverse snapshots of queer lives across the country. This session, presented at Malthouse as part of the festival, was wonderfully hosted by Natali Caro and brought together select comedians, performance makers, and writers. As always, Queerstories paints an insightful portrait into queer lives, and this session was no exception.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Detention | Dougie Baldwin

In Detention, Dougie does double duty as sentimental vice principal Mr B, and a non-verbal gremlin of a student sewing chaos and confusion when Mr B steps out of the room. This is the most fun I’ve ever had in detention as Dougie treats us to his incredibly precise character work. The real magic emerges as Dougie turns the audience into his belligerent students, teasing and quipping to him as he tries to give us a good education. The world building he achieves in an hour is tantalising, and it’s genuinely sad when it’s time to go and return to the grown up world. Dougie is an immaculate clown, and Detention his masterpiece. 

Tasma Terrace

⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ Legs in the Pool | Chris Demos

Demure yet campy, Chris Demos rises out of a pool to tell us about his experiences coming out as a late bloomer. Legs in the Pool is an incredibly well structured hour of standup about dating, family, and finding yourself. His strong stage presence and confidence supports gaggy punchlines and insightful storytelling. An exciting debut from an emerging comedian. 

Tasma Terrace

⭐⭐⭐️ Hello Players! | Randy Adeva

Randy Adeva’s debut is an hour of hip-hop comedy exploring the expectations of vulnerability placed on performing artists. Adeva’s lyricism leant satisfyingly into the absurd and the musical production and mixing was strong. While enjoyable, Adeva’s performance sometimes lacked energy and felt like it lacked direction, however his adorable charisma made up for it. 

Theory Bar

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Hoo's That Girl? | Lizzy Hoo

Lizzy Hoo is 40 and single. Her latest set explores her return to the dating pool, friendship in her forties, and her family. Her storytelling abilities are incredibly polished and engaging, keeping the audience consistently in the palm of her hand. It’s a well structured and heartfelt hour of standup in which anyone can find something to relate to. Plus, best poop story of the festival.

Victoria Hotel

⭐⭐⭐️ Dr Oblong's Ottoman of Oddities

A campy and fun evening of sketch comedy. Savier D'Arsie-Marquez & Joe Eidelson are fully committed to the bit and it’s a pleasure to see them inhabit their characters. The evening is strung together with a loose plot which isn’t ever fully explored, and the additional performer required to support it is sadly under-utilised. Some gags too felt self indulgent and could have been developed further on. Regardless, economical writing and strong direction make it an enjoyable night. 

Motley Bauhaus

⭐⭐⭐️ Amajayus | Jay Wymarra

Jay Wymarra’s queer cabaret adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus is an incredibly personal portrait of queer realisation and becoming. Shaffer’s story of Amadeus Mozart’s manipulation at the hands of Antonio Salieri is ripe for queering but Wymarra’s take is muddied by a lack of structure. Nevertheless, Wymarra’s enchanting stage presence makes for an enjoyable hour of insights into his journey to queerness.

Trades Hall

⭐⭐⭐️⭐️Dazza and Keif Reenact the Romeo + Juliet Movie Playing All the Roles

Dazza and Kief, some of Melbourne’s favourite bogan drag kings take on all the roles of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation to great effect. This re-remembering of a re-remembering of Shakespeare smoothes out all the bumps and injects it full of campy Australianisms. The pair’s gorgeous physical comedy, hilarious innuendo, and loveable characters make for a gloriously fresh take on the bard. This may just be my favourite adaptation of Shakespeare ever. 


⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Smash It! | Circus Oz

Smash It! could refer to a whole lot: patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, zionism, white supremacy. But when Circus Oz’s latest show for all ages began without an Acknowledgement of Country I felt like something was amiss. Instead, right after the ensemble have taken turns knocking down and mocking statues of men (including one of James Cook), Spenser Inwood stepped forward to deliver a considered and prescient acknowledgment in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, before dragging cook away. 

This is circus at its most political and fun, as Circus Oz guides us on an hour of jaw-dropping circus into an imagined word of justice and joy—a utopia I’d love to live in for longer than an hour. 

A perfect afternoon treat for the whole family.

Arts Centre Melbourne

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Little Video Shop of Horrors | Liam Sparrow-Gange

In the most ephemeral medium of them all, a comedian performs a desperate treatise on media preservation. Liam Sparrow-Gange’s adorably dorky Little Video Shop of Horrors is a comedic video essay, indicting nostalgia and the rise of streaming.

As Liam says in reference to a VHS tape, the more you watch something the more you destroy it. And by the same turn, the more you remember something the more you change that memory. In this digital dark age we’re living through, Little Video Shop Of Horrors is asking: How has our collective nostalgia reconstituted what Australia means? And without an archive of our stories, what’s the story we remember to tell?

Narratively, we’re taken on an alternative history of Australian TV from the turn of the 21st century. At times the tacked-on plot felt like it suffocated the humour, but Sparrow-Gange’s ideas and performance shone through. 

It’s a heady topic which lends itself to comedy surprisingly well. Liam’s showmanship is evident, and he brings slick production design to boot. This mix between theatre and comedy and essay is exactly the sort of innovative and playful comedy we need more of.

Tasma Terrace

⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ The Platonic Human Centipede | Mel & Sam

Mel & Sam bring their rambunctious blend of Gen Z references and high camp cabaret to the Toff. The duo make for a perfect pair, allowing their friendship to shine. Coincidentally, friendship is the theme of the night, with a series of sketches and songs which loosely speak to things that go well together. There’s biting commentary here about the state of the world strung together as if it were a musical ADHD diagnosis. It’s exciting to see two rising musical theatre stars develop their own peerless voice and musical sound. Exceptional production and performance makes for an electrifying night out.

The Toff

⭐⭐⭐️ Maren May Is German | Maren May

Maren May’s unique brand of English & German comedy makes for an offbeat night out. Maren takes us through her experiences of moving to Australia from Germany as an eighteen year old, and the cultural clashes that ensue, including her frustrations with small talk, Australian manners, and her first attempts at relationships. Her bilingual punchlines are exciting although sometimes felt undercut by her restrained stage presence. I’m excited to see what she does next.

Tasma Terrace

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Troll | Marie Kallevik & Anna Marie Simonsen

Marie Kallevik & Anna Marie Simonsen are experts at what they do. Troll introduces us to two adorably petulant trolls who tell us their side of the folktales. Weaving Norwegian folklore with clown is a brilliant concept that the pair execute flawlessly. Speaking in their mother tongue for most of the show, we’re forced to learn their language and mime with them when called upon. The rapport they built with the audience was phenomenal, turning us into screaming fans of two trolls with a story tell. A standout performance of clown.


⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ Every Single Thing in my Whole Entire Life | Zoë Coombs Marr

Zoë Coombs Marr is a certified spreadsheet whizz who’s managed to fit every single thing in her whole entire life into one. Zoë takes us through a blur of stories and opinions and lists from her life, changing each night as the audience guides Zoë through her own spreadsheet. You never know where you’re going to end up, but Zoë’s blithe storytelling remains entrancing the entire hour. Zoë is examining what constitutes a life, and as it turns out—it’s a great deal, far too much to enjoy in an hour which is why I really do wish this show was three. 

Town Hall

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Concrete Pigs | Prue Blake

Prue Blake tackles the data-led enshittification of our cities with a comedic panache that Jane Jacobs wishes she had. A jaded town planner and Queensland escapee, Prue takes us on a journey of missteps, both her own and the overuse of murals in urban renewal. It’s surprisingly funny content which gets woven in with stories about Prue’s childhood, family, and experiences on public transit. Plus, Prue has the funniest piss story I’ve heard in the festival.

Town Hall

⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ Sloppy Toppy | Carmelo Costa

Carmelo Costa’s solo debut makes for a delectable hour of depressed, horny, and gay humour. Costa’s keen ability to turn intimate truths into relatable punchlines is a joy to watch. His set touches on Italian family histories, mental health, sobriety, and travel mishaps. It’s a sweeping set which Costa structures like an overdue catchup with a mate, filled with pithy wit, campy melodrama, and electric raunch. You really couldn’t find a better comic to overshare with. A perfect way to end the night.


⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Karate Man | Beak Comedy

I’ve got to hand it to Beak Comedy, I’ve never seen a show like this. Karate Man is described as the “World’s First Live-Action Video Game Comedy,” which is a fairly accurate assessment of the show. Audiences are handed a controller which barks out commands for Karate Man to perform on stage, and a team of improvisers become villains, lovers, minions, and sidekicks on Karate Man’s journey to repair his relationship. I was surprised at how much it really felt like a video game, which speaks volumes of the phenomenal sound, costume, and technical design which went into this work. It’s an hour of fun and humour which is more engrossing than most other shows. A must try.

Butterfly Club

⭐⭐⭐️ Meaty Sue's Big Farma | Sunny Youngsmith

There’s no doubt that Sunny Youngsmith is an exceptionally talented performer, presenting an interesting imagined walking tour of a family-run abattoir. It’s a fun premise which justifies Youngsmith’s affable bogan tour-guide character. Delivered as a monologue, Youngsmith takes us through the facilities, winding in an extended backstory along the way. Meaty Sue’s Big Farma shines as a vehicle for Youngsmith’s character work, but occasionally gets bogged down in plot heavy moments. Regardless, Youngsmith’s impression of an abattoir operator is compelling and entertaining enough to satisfy for the hour.

Butterfly Club

⭐⭐⭐⭐️ The John Wilkes Booth | Handful of Bugs

The John Wilkes Booth is a delightfully homo-erotic pastiche of American cinema tropes dedicated to the power of friendship. It’s corny, over the top, and so so so fun. Handful of Bugs (Alex Donnelly & Lachie Gough) are a match made in heaven, with an enrapturingly nonchalant stage presence. The show they’ve made is a blast too, stuffed full of references and stage fights and puns. It looks like they’re really enjoying themselves on stage, as It comes across in the relaxed, playful, and light energy they’ve nurtured. A perfect late night show to finish an evening with.


⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Annie and Lena Have a Talk Show | Annie and Lena

Annie and Lena have a talk show charts the imagined rise of this iconic comedy duo through the TV industry and beyond. Filled with heapings of industry gags and playful skits, this hour long sketch show delivers an incisive criticism of the house of cards that is the media industry. The pair showcase a playful versatility, making each of their roles as production assistants all the way up to stars feel fresh and new. Their effortlessly likeable personalities shine through, keeping us enraptured through their journey. Particular highlights included impressions of established talk show hosts, and their own take on a prank show. It’s a cracker of a show which knows exactly the story it wants to tell, delivered by a pair who know exactly how make it hilarious.


⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ Jazz or a Bucket of Blood | Ange Lavoipierre & Jane Watt

This is a show meant to be about jazz, or a bucket of blood. Instead, it’s Ange Lavoipierre & Jane Watt’s clown alter-egos fighting over what to make a show about, and not really ending up anywhere. It’s a show that seems to fiendishly resist interpretation, dragging you along for the ride. And what a ride that is—filled with an addictive chemistry as Lavoipierre’s shrewdness melds perfectly with Watt’s naïveté. The surreal hour shifts between physical gags, music, participation, and several musings on the nature of friendship as adults. The begrudging pair are loveable and hypnotic, and by the end we all want to be their friends.

Comedy Republic

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️ Virtuoso | Casey Filips

Casey Filips’ debut at Comedy Festival is a bonkers hour of sketch comedy and clown, couched in a delicious meta-narrative of an egotistical actor’s outrageous audition. Virtuoso is a balanced blend of finely crafted gags, over the top props, and a commandingly cheeky stage presence. Plus, Filips is a master of audience participation. Leaving the stage in one standout scene to allow an audience member to carry the show, which they absolutely did. It takes a great artist to establish that level of trust and support with an audience, which Filips manages with ease. A ridiculously well-crafted night of fun.

Grace Darling Hotel

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Flem | Darcy Fleming

Darcy Fleming’s debut solo hour is a relaxed evening of thoughtful sketch probing at the nature of labour. Fleming is a skilled performer, melting between hyperreal sketch and absurd caricature. There’s an interesting story at play here, of an artist struggling under the cost of living crisis, and Fleming explores the constricting choices we have under capitalism. At the same time though, Fleming shines at their most surreal—and in moments of lucidity their set risks falling flat as it tries to turn the awful joke of capitalist extraction in on itself. Nevertheless, Fleming possesses an unmistakable charm and self-confidence that makes them well worth a watch.

Tasma Terrace