The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is in full swing for another year and the decision of which shows to see is as difficult as ever. For those of us who can’t choose or want a little taste of what’s on offer, the A-List Comedy Sampler is perfect.
Hosted by the ever-inappropriate Lawrence Mooney, the Sampler features a mixture of well-known comedians and rising stars, most of whom are promoting their own shows —also running at the comedy festival.
I attended the first of only two Sampler’s on Monday night. A packed Athenaeum Theatre saw the likes of Jimeoin, Arj Barker, Akmal, Tahir (fresh out of the I’m A Celebrity jungle),Nikki Osborne and Georgie Carroll take centre stage. There were also the less known sets from Simon Taylor, Rose Callaghan, The Stevenson Experience, Steph Tisdell, Bev Killickand Jacques Barrett.
Here’s a little review of each:
Mooney has no show of his own this year so it was great to still get the chance to see him perform. Renowned for his lack of political-correctness, Mooney lived up to expectations as he covered topics from parenting to cheating to jokes about the suburbs he’s from. His best segment of the night was his Malcolm Turnbull impersonation, which brought tears of laughter to many eyes.
Taylor’s progressive comedy appeals strongly to millennials, moving between house affordability, vegetarianism and sexuality. He threw in a few accent impressions and started the show off with a lot of laughs.
The lowlight of the night, Osborne’s jokes just weren’t coming across to the audience. Her best results were solitary laughs to each joke as the rest of the audience cringed slightly at her confident determination to be politically incorrect. A lady behind me even took serious offence to her continual jokes about Frankston. She definitely made the audience a bit nervous and uncomfortable, and it was a bit of a relief when she wrapped up.
Barker brought the crowd back with very smart and topical jokes. Even his jokes about death had the crowd in stitches.
A.K.A. the ‘Crummy Mummy’ in her own show, Killick was fantastic for all but particularly the middle-aged-and-above-with-kids audience. She got the most laughter and applause yetwith her relatable content and exquisite impersonations.
Akmal lived up to his reputation and was hilarious. Jokes about Australia, the V8 Supercars, Donald Trump and Tony Abbott went down a treat.
The Stevenson Experience:
My favourite of the night was the Stevenson twins’ (Beej and Jimmy) set who stood out from the others with their musical set as they sung their jokes to a fast-paced keyboard tune. The performance was incredibly clever and had the crowd mesmerised from start to finish.
Callaghan was moderately funny but nothing exciting. She suffered a bit going so late in the show with a few of her preceding acts covering the same topics as her. She probably appeals best to middle-aged women.
Tahir was great after endearing himself to many Australians during his stint in the jungle for Channel 10. His jokes on racism, parenting and sex life really resonated with the crowd and received huge laughs.
British-born Carroll is fairly well-known as a bubbly and likeable guest on Channel 10’s HaveYou Been Paying Attention?. Like quite a few of the other comedians, she mostly used parenting and sex jokes to fill her set, but the content was unique to her and very enjoyable.
Receiving the funniest and most insulting introduction of the night by Mooney, the crowd was immediately excited for Barrett’s set. He had the audience shrieking with laughter after every line as he joked about travel, his name and more. The only way he disappointed was by not having his own solo show at this year’s MICF.
Another very familiar comedian who was everything you would expect. His relaxed comedic style was a treat to watch and kept the audience’s laughter from Barrett’s set going. His topics of commercialism and finite resources may not sound like the most hilarious choices but I think we can all agree that Jimeoin could make us laugh about anything.
Closing the show was down-to-earth Aboriginal up-and-comer Steph Tisdell. She rounded out the show with a funny set – at least for all the women in the room (her vagina and boob jokes perhaps wouldn’t have resonated so strongly with the men). Her best content was her cleverly thought-out jokes about the treatment of Indigenous Australians which had the room roaring.
It was such a fun night at the A-List Comedy Sampler for so many reasons; a full house full of laughter and good spirits set the perfect atmosphere for getting to watch some of the biggest names in comedy live, all in one go. The only downside was that each comedian had clearly not cross-checked their content with each other so each Married At First Sight, house pricing and Donald Trump’s-wall-joke was less and less funny as the night wore on.
Nevertheless, the best part of shows like this is being able to discover new must-see comedians. Sampler’s and Gala’s have a little bit of everything, meaning everyone is bound to find someone who gets them crying with laughter.