2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the first acts have been announced, with the full program to be unveiled in February.

In 1987 an idea was hatched to create a festival to showcase and celebrate Melbourne’s groundbreaking comedy and cabaret venues and the performers who inhabited them.

From its humble beginnings with 56 shows across 33 venues, the Melbourne Comedy Festival has become Australia’s national comedy festival and one of the biggest in the world. The Festival has played host to thousands of local and international performers and millions of people have been entertained and inspired by their fearless imaginations in the pursuit of free speech and good times.

International guest artists coming to tickle our collective funny bones in 2016 will include:

Festival debutants: Hal Cruttenden, Larry Dean, Adam Hess, Sofie Hagen, Lou Sanders, Mae Martin, Penny Arcade
Recent visitors returning: Joel Dommett, Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, Alex Edelman, Luisa Omielan, Urzila Carlson, Tom Green
Much loved favourites: Rich Hall, David O’Doherty, Sarah Millican, Arj Barker, Ross Noble, Paul Foot

A plethora of local Australian performers are also heading to Melbourne to join the party:

Celia Pacquola, Anthony Morgan, Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Joel Creasey, Matt Okine, Tommy Little, Frank Woodley, Wil Anderson, Tom Gleeson, Sam Simmons, Peter Helliar, Sarah Kendall, Nazeem Hussain, Ali McGregor, Dave Thornton, Dave Hughes, Steen Raskopoulos, Tom Ballard, Anne Edmonds, Nick Cody, Tripod, Carl Barron, Akmal, Em Rusciano, Lehmo, Lawrence Leung, Adam Richard, Charlie Pickering, Fiona O’Loughlin, Felicity Ward, Lawrence Mooney, Sammy J & Randy, Zoe Coombs Marr and Tripod

To celebrate our first 30 years of laughs, the Melbourne Comedy Festival in conjunction with Arts Centre Melbourne, is presenting a major exhibition taking us from the 1987 launch with Peter Cook and Sir Les Patterson, through backstage, behind the scenes moments and much-loved costumes, to Deadly Funny – the only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy program for Australia’s traditional owners – the life and mood of the Festival is captured in an exciting exhibition.

Popular national initiatives also return including RAW Comedy (Australia’s largest and most popular open mic competition), Class Clowns (workshops and comedy competition for teens), Deadly Funny (supporting Indigenous comedy), Upfront Gala (the glamour girls of comedy), Oxfam Gala (sold out), Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow and The Comedy Zone.

For more information, and tickets for shows already on sale: www.comedyfestival.com.au