Bigger and bolder than ever, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently celebrating thirty – one exciting years. Like previous seasons, in 2017 traditional stand – up continues to dominate the program’s countless entertainment choices being offered.

The event operators are acutely aware, that it would be impossible for even the most dedicated fans to see each and every act. To date, their solution has been to cleverly highlight a cross – section of local and visiting talent, with several large – scale yet distinctly different outings.

‘The Gala’, ‘The Comedy All-stars Super show’, and ‘Upfront’ are three festival mainstays that are almost identical in format.

Each is similarly – structured in that comedians being invited to these nights, may use them as an opportunity to present a five – minute set from their own individual shows. They are also a terrific opportunity for audiences to experience a snapshot overview of the festival, and to consider some of the acts being showcased from them as well.

Where ‘Upfront’ is unique from the other two line – ups, is that it celebrates the top female comics performing at the festival.

Celebrating its twenty – second edition, this year ‘Upfront’ was enthusiastically hosted by Geraldine Quinn and her funky backing band, Spandex Ballet.  On Wednesday, April 19, more than twenty comics from Australia and around the world, took to centre – stage at the Melbourne Town Hall.

With an approximate running time of two – hours (plus interval), some of ‘Upfront’s’ many highlights included:


  • Canada’s Deanne Smith, stressing that it was hard to be taken seriously when she looks like a cartoon character.
  • Nikki Britton’s hilarious demonstration of the difference between dancing at parties in your twenties, thirties, and beyond.
  • USA’s Janelle James, and her twisted take on white Americans who talk ‘black’ in an urban slang known as ‘Wigger’.
  • Urzila Carlson from South Africa, and how she triumphantly handles gluten – free fanatics.
  • Mae Martin (also from Canada), lamenting how often she is confused with the blonde singer from the band, One Direction.
  • USA’s Fortune Feimster, talking about awkward first appearances.
  • Amelia Jane Hunter, commenting that her ensemble made her look like Warrick Capper in drag.
  • Hannah Gadsby, sharing her thoughts on coming out, IKEA, and the bizarre definition of ‘top – shelf’ normal.
  • Cal Wilson, crying over the television show, ‘Antiques Roadshow’.
  • Mel Buttle, analysing the Brownlow Medal Awards’ red carpet.
  • Josie Long, from the United Kingdom, rewriting ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’s’ dramatic climax, and deliciously messing with our minds in the process.
  • Geraldine Hickey’s justified fear of spiders.
  • Penny Greenhalgh’s dangerously limber ice dance tribute on rollerblades, with ‘assistance’ from an audience volunteer, almost stealing the show.

Overall, Upfront proved to be a lively and worthy evening, with a vast variety of comedic styles and topics up for discussion on display from all of the performers.

Well done to everyone involved, for an entertaining night out.