Advocating for Aussie Comics

It’s comedy festival season in Australia and my head is BURSTING with all the cool stuff going on there.

Tripod have started doing a UStream session once a week, chatting to their fans and playing some songs. I just finished watching their second one, and it was brilliant! I love that I can just watch them in my living room.

Sam Simmons, suburban absurdist comedian and Triple J presenter, has a commercial for his latest show ‘The Precise History of Things,’ that will air once on Australian TV, during the morning talk show Sunrise. Here it is:

Now, it’s clear to anyone who knows me that I am a passionate advocate of Australian comedy. It’s a very insular community – the comedians are rarely known outside of Australia – but one chock full of talent. Australians aren’t known for being quiet, but in the shadow of the Motherland (aka Britain) their comedic voices go all but unheard. Though non-Aussies might have trouble bringing an Australian stand-up to mind, the land Down Under is rich with comedic talent. They’re a ridiculously talented bunch. Let me count the ways…

If you like straight stand-up, Australia will supply. Adam Hills is undoubtedly the kind of comedy in Australia, and one of the best stand-ups in the world. Wil Anderson is clever and witty, and has that political edge that goes over so well in the US. Other heavyweights include Dave “Hughesy” Hughes, Fiona O’Loughlin, Tom Gleeson, Akmal, Cal Wilson, etc.

Australian TV isn’t always great, but the comedians that make it onto the small screen are the crème de la crème. They include Adam Hills (Spicks & Specks, Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight), Wil Anderson (The Gruen Transfer, The Glass House), Paul McDermott (Good News Week, The Sideshow, DAAS Kapital), Rove McManus (Rove), and Australian god Shaun Micallef (Talking Bout Your Generation; Micallef has the same status in Australia that Stephen Fry holds in Britain).

Australia is rich in musical comedians. They include Sammy J & Randy (who won the Barry Award in 2010), Tripod, Anyone for Tennis? (Raw Comedy finalists), Oliver Clark, Luke & Wyatt, Ryan Coffey, The Bedroom Philosopher (MICF Directors’ Choice Award winner 2009), and ex-pat Tim Minchin.

Triple J is Australia’s nationwide youth-oriented radio station, and as far as I can tell it’s just about the best station in the world. Triple J hosts include Tom Ballard (Raw Comedy finalist 2006), who only just turned 21, and absurdist Sam Simmons (MICF Piece of Wood Award 2010, MICF Golden Gibbo Award 2010). You can listen to Sam’s podcast ‘The Sounds of Sam‘ to get all your Sam goodness in 20-minute packages. Concentrated Sam, straight from the can (…aka your audio device).

If that’s not enough, Australian comedy has even more to give. There’s something for everyone. If you like mainstream stand-up, Tommy Little’s your man. If you like your comedy dark and meta, check out David Quirk (he also has the most beautiful voice of any Australian; seriously, if you know a better Aussie voice, I want to hear it). If you’re a fan of Fry & Laurie, check out their Aussie equivalents Lano & Woodley. If you enjoy physical comedy and want something your kids can watch too, you’ll love the Umbilical Brothers. If Sam Simmons isn’t absurd enough for you, then how about Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima, a show that includes a man singing to a vacuum.

They often don’t make the transition overseas (to the UK or the US), but that just leaves the Australian comedic landscape all the richer. Australia is full of comedic talent. It’s high time the world heard about it.

Because I enjoy punishing myself, here’s a list of who I’d definitely see if I were in Melbourne for the MICF 2011 (alphabetical by first name, cause Aussies are weird/informal):

  • Andrew McClelland – Truth Be Told
  • Anyone for Tennis? – Prepare to be Tuned
  • Asher Treleaven – Matadoor
  • Bart Freebairn – Tears and Treasure
  • The Bedroom Philosopher – Wit-bix
  • Bo Burnham (US) – Live!
  • Claudia O’Doherty – What is Soil Erosion?
  • Danny Bhoy (Scotland) – Messenger (Please Do Not Shoot)
  • Dave Thornton – I Wanna Be Bruce Lee
  • David O’Doherty (Ireland) – Somewhere Over the David O’Doherty
  • Eddie Perfect – Mishanthropology
  • Felicity Ward – Honestly
  • Geraldine Quinn – You’re the Voice: Songs for the Ordinary by an Anthemaniac
  • The Horne Section (UK)
  • Justin Hamilton – Circular
  • Lawrence Leung – Wants a Jetpack
  • Luke & Cambo – Get All the Bitches
  • Mark Watson (UK)
  • Michael Chamberlin – Things I Haven’t Done
  • The Pajama Men (US) – In the Middle of No One
  • Ryan Coffey – Live and Stupider
  • Sam Simmons – And the Precise History of Things
  • Sammy J and Randy – Bin Night
  • Scared Weird Little Guys – Enough Already
  • Steve Sheehan – After the Horse
  • Tommy Little – Has No Answers
  • Wil Anderson – Man vs Wil
  • Xavier Michelides – Future World

So that’s a list of 28 shows. And I know myself. That would easily double, with the non-MUST-sees, sleeper hits, recommendations, etc. NOW tell me comedy in Australia is substandard in any way!

To my surprise, I have seen 2 of the ~360 shows at MICF 2011, Die Roten Punkte’s Kunst Rock (Art Rock), and Charles Ross’ One Man Lord of the Rings. Look, there’s even a review of it on this blog!


About whoseroses

Rose is an arts administrator from Victoria, BC. She has worked at some of Canada's biggest and best festivals, including the Victoria Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Victoria Film Festival. She co-founded the Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, and helped produce the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. Rose is passionate about theatre, spoken word, comedy, and her community. She runs on festivals.
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1 Response to Advocating for Aussie Comics

  1. Alex Clark says:

    One day, there’ll be a pocket of opportunity for visas and plane travel and housing and then you too could live in Magic Land. ‘Our Magic Land is the best’ is an anagram of ‘that’s Melbourne sicadig’


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