Melbourne Comedy Festival: Why Go, What to Know & Who to See

If you ever decide you want to visit Melbourne, you must plan it around the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

For all my Boulder friends, think Boulder International Film Festival. But instead of boring Indie movies that just kind of make you feel weird after you watch them, you get to choose between hundreds of hour-long live comedy acts from 6 p.m. to midnight for three weeks in a row.

Naturally, for a comedy connoisseur like myself, and perhaps like yourself, the hardest part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is choosing which acts to see.

Luckily, the website has a quiz you can take based off the kind of comedy you prefer. The quiz asks you if you like Aussie or international comedians, and basically raunchiness preference, to help you decide.

I also took to the likes of YouTube to help me decide.

Which I’ll never do again, because, as you may or may not know, comedians like to repeat themselves.

So if you do decide to research comedians on YouTube, don’t let it spoil the real show for you.

Anyway, after reading lots of reviews, taking the quiz, and getting caught in hours of YouTube traps, here are some tips for when you decide to head to the Australian Comedy Festival. Plus which comedians I went to go see and my own views on how each performed.

Tips for attending the Melbourne Comedy Festival:

  • The venues, where each show is located, are pretty much scattered around downtown Melbourne. Choose different shows in different locations as a great way to explore the city.
  • You can buy tickets at the door of each venue or through Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster charges extra for a service fee, but then you don’t run the risk of the show selling out. I got the third to last ticket for Mae Martin when I bought at the door. For Wil Anderson, I bought an online ticket a few days before the show. Most days for him were all sold out, but I got the second-to-last ticket for a Wednesday.
  • Except for at the big venues like Comedy Theatre, where Wil performed, you can’t bring in booze. I knoooooooow! They have one bar room inside each of the buildings where you can purchase drinks before the show, but you can’t take them with you. I quickly learned this for my first show, so for the second and third show, I had brought a lil something special with me in my purse.
  • What to wear? I think it’s appropriate to dress up a little for each show. It’s a night on the town!
  • Leave your judgements and preconceptions at the door. It’s a comedy festival, not a time to be sensitive.
  • When’s Melbourne Comedy Festival happening next year? March 29th – April 23rd, 2017. Check when 2017 hits to view the lineup.

Here’s who I saw and how each performed. 

1. Rhys Nicholson

Rhys was my favorite comedian at Melbourne Comedy Festival. His in-your-face personality and unfiltered loud humor is the kind of humor I’m drawn to.

Melbourne Comedy Festival

Jokes about: Being gay, drugs, growing up, his personal relationship

For: Millennials who don’t mind spending an hour with their over-sharer friend

Not for: Close-minded traditionalists, or those who fear talking about sex

Price: $20 AUD ($15 USD)

If you DON’T plan on seeing him in the near future, check out this video of him on YouTube:

2. Mae Martin

Mae was my second-favorite performer. I made the mistake of watching too many of her precious performances on YouTube.

So I spoiled her show for myself.

She’s the kind of comedian that makes you think as you laugh — more laughing on the inside.

She knows it too.

At one point in the show, she said something along the lines of, “I think my comedy act is turning more into a Ted Talk.”

Well Mae, if you were to host a Ted Talk, I’d pay to see that too.

Melbourne Comedy Festival Mae Martin

Jokes about: Labels, growing up in a very liberal family, life expectations

For: Those who prefer a range of jokes, from philosophical jokes to those about life’s wonderful and not-so-wonderful surprises

Not for: Close-minded traditionalists or those who shy away from imaginary nudity

Price: $28 AUD ($21 USD)

Again, if you DON’T plan on seeing Mae Martin in the near future, then watch this:

3. Wil Anderson 

I had high hopes for Wil Anderson. He got five out of five stars, excellent reviews, and his show was basically advertised as the headliner of the whole festival.

He also had one of the most expensive shows.

Even so, he didn’t do much for me.

I zoned out during most of the show. A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that 90% of the show was about Australian politics and events.

To his credit, he did say during the show that he was glad to be in front of an Australian audience because he had been touring the U.S. the past year and couldn’t really talk about the things he wanted to.

Wil also talked way to fast for me to really try to comprehend what he was saying. And when Aussie mates talk super fast, yuhcuntunerstanwhathufaucktheytryintasaymate.

Then again, I mentally put him him up against some really excellent comedians I’ve seen live before. (I love you, Aziz.)

Even thoughWil Anderson’s comedy show didn’t work out so well for me, the locals around me seemed to really enjoy it.

Melbourne Comedy Festival

Jokes about: Australian politics and history, and mannerisms

For: Australians that can laugh at themselves

Not for: Out-of-towners

Price: $38 AUD

Here’s a sampling of his comedy, which I think was better than his actual performance. But hey, I do gotta hand it to him for switching his content up. None of his jokes I’d heard from researching him.

Looking for a few more things to do and suggestions for visiting Melbourne?

1. Stay at this AirBnB in downtown Melbourne.

It’s in walking distance to all of the venues, very clean, has a pretty good view of the city, and the host did a wonderful job communicating quickly and helping out when questions arose.

AirBnB in Melbourne

2. Go to the State Library of Victoria.

It’s really cool, and a great place to get your digital nomad on.

I took a free tour of the library because that’s how much of a nerd I am.

The internet isn’t the fastest, but it worked fine.

Melbourne Comedy Festival: Why Go, What to Know & Who to See

3. Go to the Queen Victoria Market!

It is a huuuuuuuge farmer’s market that has so many different things. Tons of fresh produce, clothes, delicious restaurants, coffee …

It’s a super cool place to get all your necessities and just hang out. Some parts are outside, other parts inside.

It’s busy. There’s usually someone playing an instrument on the street, and overall it just has good vibes.

Try some wine from the Re Wine booth.

Melbourne Comedy Festival was my first time attending a comedy festival, and I gotta say, I’m a fan for life. Have you been to one before? Who is your favorite comedian?


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