I’ll go to the opening of an envelope, so when I had the official launch of the 33rd Melbourne International Comedy Festival in my diary, you can imagine how thrilled I was. The event was held on Tuesday morning in the famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre and with champagne on arrival, I was in my element. What the elusive invitation hadn’t revealed, however, was that the event was hosted by household name, Tommy Little and featured entertainment from Hannah Gadsby and Flo and Joan, a fantastic musical duo from Great Britain.

Like all festival launches, there were speeches welcoming us and giving the festival a plug. The audience heard from esteemed guests that included the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp, Chairman Bill Shannon, Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley and the festival director, Susan Provan AO. Despite the potential for these speakers to be on the dry side, they were by contrast upbeat, excited, passionate about the festival and even in parts, funny. They introduced what looks to be a spectacular three-week long festival, concluding on the 21st of April.

I was thrilled to hear that acts had travelled from across the globe, from the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand to India and parts of Asia. The aforementioned officials promised the most diverse festival yet and one that reflected the world in which we live. This sentiment was complimented by Hannah Gadsby’s welcome. Gadsby was the surprise guest of the launch and following the international success of her Netflix special, Nanette, there wasn’t a person in the audience that didn’t have their IPhone poised to photograph her. She spoke primarily about coming up in a world of comedy that was dominated by men and hinted to an exciting revolution, encompassing a more diverse range of comics and content.

As the Lord Mayor reiterated, Melbournians love comedy and they also know how to get behind a festival. The city is undoubtedly more alive during the MICF period and as I flicked through the catalogue, I realised that it’s not just the CBD that hosts the diverse lineup, but the suburbs as well, with a pretty even spread across the North and South. 

I’m excited to see that Judith Lucy is returning to MICF with her show, Men and other household names headline this year including, but not limited to, Tommy Little with Self-Diagnosed Genius, Tom Gleeson with Joy and Will Anderson with Wil-informed. I always make it to Nath Valvo’s shows and have enjoyed seeing his standup develop since, Grinder: A Love Story. He returns this year with what I am assuming is an irreverent, observational hour with, I’m Happy for you. Other favorites of mine include international acts, Ross Noble and Jeff Green, performing at Palais Theatre and Melbourne Town Hall, respectively. The festival also boasts countless special events and competitions for up and coming comics along with a wholesome suite of comedy, suitable for kids. As I finished my early morning champagne and exited the Spiegeltent, after the festival was declared officially open, I hurried back to work. There was a great vibe outside the Arts Centre. The launch’s guests excitedly chattered about the festival and I thought to myself what an exciting time of year it was. First dates would be occurring all over the city over the next three weeks, people would meet for the first time at comedy gigs, stand-ups would come into their own behind the microphone. While I’m positive a career in comedy would be an enormously challenging one, I did think to myself what a privilege it must be to make people laugh for a living

March 27 – April 21