A Bison Abroad| Comedy festivals in Melbourne

MICF shows off local and international comedians

One of Melbourne’s largest events of the year is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF). Taking place for nearly a full month from mid-March to mid-April, MICF gives local and international comedians alike the opportunity to show their best work and try to make people laugh in venues across the city.

No matter what style of comedy makes you laugh, no matter how weird or outrageous you like your jokes to be, MICF is bound to have your dream comedian ready and waiting for you to discover them. Here are just a few of my favorites who have made me laugh until my sides hurt.

Demi Lardner’s ‘Ditch Witch 800’

Demi Lardner’s show at MICF is called “Ditch Witch 800.” If that title doesn’t say it all, nothing will. She’s the only comedian I know who has the brilliance to win the Directors’ Choice Award at MICF and the Underbelly Award at Edinburgh Fringe in the same year.

She then used her time during the MICF Gala (the biggest event at MICF) to do a five-minute set of completely new material that involved her both rolling around on stage and creeping through the audience like a diseased velociraptor.

One of the bits involved her pumping a bottle of hand soap directly into her mouth. The audience found this bit to be one of the better and more memorable.

Lardner’s comedic appeal is perhaps a hard sell if you’ve never encountered her work before. She mangles the English language in a way that’s almost artistic.

Double Denim’s ‘A Very Fancy Dinner Party’

The duo consists of Laura Frew and Michelle Brasier (of Aunty Donna fame). Together as Double Denim, they’ve managed to take home Sydney Comedy Festival’s Best Newcomer title and MICF’s Director’s Choice Award in 2018 alone.

In this year’s show, “A Very Fancy Dinner Party,” Double Denim explored friendship and redemption through the medium of a “battle royale” cooking show and choreographed musical numbers. Brasier and Frew do such an incredible job at making their audiences have a great time, chiefly because they know exactly how to read the room and get the audience involved.

They’re the perfect mix of energetic, silly and serious, and they know exactly how to make fun of themselves and the audience in a way that invites the audience in. Instead of just telling jokes, Double Denim somehow manages to make the audience feel like they’re a part of the jokes themselves.

Not to mention, “A Very Fancy Dinner Party” is my favorite comedy show that involves a ballad arrangement of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

Sanspants Radio’s ‘Big Deal’

Sanspants Radio is a podcast network that has been delivering wonderfully silly nonsense to the airwaves since 2012. Now they’re taking to MICF with a show unlike anything they’ve done before.

Imagine waking up at 2:28 a.m. after a fever dream. You’re delirious from cough medicine and somehow too tired to fall back asleep, if that’s even possible.

Not knowing what’s real and what’s not anymore in this witching hour, you turn on the television and flip to the nearest game show. You’re so exhausted, you have no grasp of the rules and aren’t even sure if the contestants are competing to win anything at all. Yet you watch on, dazed and slack-jawed, unable to look away.

Capture that feeling in a bottle, shake it until it’s funny and what falls out is something nearing the seriously wild comedy vibes delivered in Sanspants Radio’s nightmare quiz show “Big Deal.”

This show has everything: dangerous hats, champagne bottles that are secretly filled with milk, life model drawing and trivia. “Big Deal” puts its contestants (new each night and picked from amongst Sanspants’ own crew and comedy friends) through an Olympics of bizarre situations that are both upsetting and delightful.

Led by Sanspants’ own Jackson Baly, who is a man equal part charismatic and Willy-Wonka-devious. “Big Deal” is a show that somehow offers nothing you want, but everything you need from a made-up game show.

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