Hey, it’s me, Emily Tresidder, stand-up comedian and radio host from Melbourne. As a comedian who has been performing for seven years, I’ve been around plenty of festivals all over the world, but there is something special about the one that happens here in Melbourne. That’s why I’ve compiled this handy guide to help you make the most out of it this year.
Why the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is so special
I’ll be performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the 6th time this year! Pretty wild to write that, actually. It feels the same going into this festival as it did my first time.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) is the largest stand-alone comedy festival and the second-largest international comedy festival in the world. And don’t just take my word for it, I literally copied and pasted that from Wikipedia, which we all know is a very reliable source. MICF has always been a festival that performers aspire to perform at. It’s a festival that, for comedians in Australia, is the best of the best. It’s competitive when finding a venue, it’s bustling and it's big compared to other local festivals and opportunities.
I love it because I get to show off what I’ve been working on since the last festival. It’s special because it allows more people to come and see you and to be introduced to you as a performer.
It’s a time that the city feels alive. There is a real buzz as thousands of people wander through the city grabbing pre-show dumplings or post-show cocktails and share some laughs in a room full of strangers. It’s also the time of year when it starts to get a little cooler and we all rush to get out our winter wardrobes and remind our friends how stylish we are - how fun is that!
At its core, comedy is all about bringing different people together into small rooms with little-to-no natural airflow, and for the past few years it hasn’t been something we’ve been able to enjoy. Now that we’re (mostly) past that and us comics have had a whole year to write jokes that aren’t just about how we were stuck at home trying to make people laugh on zoom, this festival will be a great place to get back to laughing together with a fresh new perspective.
The uniqueness of live comedy
Nothing beats live comedy - there’s something special about being in the room. It’s also true that no matter how polished a comedian looks or sounds, no two shows will ever be the same. So, you literally get a once-in-a-lifetime experience every single time you see a live show.
Comedy is also inherently personal, there is an element of intimacy in standing on stage and sharing stories about your life. Even if there is no interaction throughout a show, there is still an exchange happening from the audience to the comedian and back the other way.
For me, that unique and once-off connection I make with each nightly crowd is my favourite part of what I do. I get to surprise you with jokes and make you laugh and you get to surprise me with how you react. I can’t think of anything in the world that’s like that. It’s truly joyous.
How to navigate MICF
The best part about the festival is there really is something for everyone. If you’re into a stand-up who is relatable and hilarious, the festival has you covered. If you’re into variety and don’t want just one comedian for your buck, the festival has you covered. If you’re into clowns stripping and using honey as hair gel, I’m (pretty) sure the festival has you covered.
The hard part is trying to choose. My advice for you is take a punt, even if you hate it, the worst that could happen is you laugh about how uncomfortable you were over drinks with your mates afterwards. The best that can happen is you stumble upon someone you had never heard of, who made you laugh so much you cried.
It’s cliché but that feeling of seeing an act in a smaller room and then seeing them on TV a couple of years later, is a common and incredible experience. You can genuinely say ‘I saw them before they were cool’.
That’s why you should see me before I’m on TV. Just kidding but definitely come to my show if you want to.
How to make the most out of MICF
I’d now like to turn my attention to you. What makes a great audience member? This may seem obvious – one who laughs!
It’s easy to laugh when you’re in an auditorium filled with hundreds of others laughing. Your weird snort laugh isn’t audible over that other guys wheezing laugh. Laughing out loud in a smaller room, however, can seem harder and if you follow my advice from above, you will end up in a smaller room at least once during the festival.
So, I’d like to set you a challenge for this Comedy Fest. Be the laughter hero. Be the safety laugh that allows the wheezy boy to feel comfortable laughing next to you. Be the trailblazer for having a great time.
The more fun you have, the more fun the comedian or comedians have.
Lastly, if you’re a fan of people watching like I am, the festival is one of the best times of the year for it - there is so much to see! Young couples on awkward first dates where they clearly have different senses of humour, mums on a girls-night-out, comedians power walking to their venues listening to pump-me-up songs. Have you ever just sat and watched a business man in a suit eating ice cream from a cone?
There really isn’t a dull moment when MICF is on, it’s up to you to make sure you’re there to be part of it.
What to see this MICF
If you are having trouble choosing between all the incredible comedians on this year's line-up, my two cents are:
Emily Tresidder: Where'd You Go? (hello, it’s me)
An adventure without leaving your seat. Emily's comedy style is super relatable, yet hilariously absurd.
Garry Star: Greece Lightning
Your favourite clowns, favourite clown. Wildly entertaining, unique and an experience.
Geraldine Hickey: Of Course We've Got Horses
An icon of Melbourne comedy. Reliable laughs and plenty of them.
Guy Montgomery: My Brain Is Blowing Me Crazy
The Victoria Hotel
A star on the rise. Like all great Kiwis, we'll soon claim him as our own.
Ivan Aristeguieta: Citizen
Approachable and effortlessly funny. Always a highlight.
Larry Dean: FUDNUT
No one should have the right to be this consistently funny. Melbourne gets a lot funnier when he's in town.
Alex Ward: Saving for a Jet Pack
You've already missed your chance to say 'I saw her before she was on the tele' but don't miss your chance to see her this festival.
David O'Doherty: Tiny Piano Man
It's David O'Doherty.
Dilruk Jayasinha: Heart Stopper
Melbourne Town Hall
Easy going, light-hearted comedy and strong storytelling.
Sami Shah: Successful Comedian
Intelligent comedy done right.
Annie and Lena: Hunt For Ghosts
The Improv Conspiracy Theatre
Wild and wildly funny. A great example of sketch comedy.
Matt Stewart: Ding
Probably going to be quite silly, in the best way possible.
Hot Department: Wet Heat
A delight for the sense, all of the senses.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 29 – April 23 2023
Buy tickets: here
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