Laugh Your Way Through Adelaide’s Comedy Festivals

Comedy Central prides itself on being irreverent and cutting edge. Many of its shows have garnered industry recognition.

Bec Charlwood overshares her way through bipolar disorder, depression, therapy and a love for Dolly Doctor in this funny, heartfelt show. She’s ‘almost good enough’, but she’s ‘not quite there yet’.

Sydney Comedy Festival

The Sydney Comedy Festival tickles ribs across four weeks of stand-up, sketch, improv, musical and science-based quippery around town. A collective joke jamboree bulges from every corner of this city, with comedians ranging from the big names to up-and-coming local talent.

If you can’t see a headliner in their full show, hit up Best of the Fest, hosted five nights a week at the Factory Theatre Festival Hub in Marrickville throughout the Festival. For the bargain price of $30, you’ll get a tasting platter of the festival’s finest local acts.

You’ll find a mix of up-and-coming and established performers at the festival galas, held this year in the Enmore Theatre, Sydney Opera House and Town Hall. Bron Lewis, the joint winner of the 2022 Raw Comedy National Final with Alexandra Hunter, takes the stage at Frocking Hilarious and will present Probably (Factory Theatre, May 18-21) where she mines farce, Bunnings caps and a recipe for fake blood to build a daffy, chaotic double-act that champions a glimmer of hope within the utterance “probably”.

Viacom and Time Warner were equal partners in Comedy Central at the beginning, and the network used to routinely run short films as non-ad filler, such as a not-very-funny song about tube tops or a salacious movie-of-the-week style film about the Tonya Harding scandal. Over the decades, Comedy Central has reinvented news, animation and comedy variety to reflect the tastes of younger audiences, resulting in shows that have been criticized for relying on shock value.

Melbourne Comedy Festival

Despite the world’s troubles, there are plenty of charming comedians to have a giggle at without really engaging your brain. But every now and then, a revelatory show swings in like a superhero to save the day with an unforgettably brilliant game-changer that not only makes you laugh, but feels like the answer to some of that troubling stuff niggling at the back of your head.

Aaron Chen, whose razor sharp wit has seen him rack up sold-out shows, a TV night show, a slew of high profile appearances and countless awards, delivers his most mature and sophisticated comedy yet. His show combines a delightfully unique perspective and exemplary technique, while delving into serious topics such as racism and terrorism in a way that’s both refreshing and funny.

Also up for grabs is a whole lot of homegrown talent. Jarryd Prain wryly compares his job as a sommelier to his sex life, Hadi Kilman pokes fun at racist hiring companies and Ginny Hollands gleans humour out of the fact that being born with just 16 per cent of full eyesight means she never has to be the designated driver.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival offers a diverse range of performances across 140 venues, with highlights including the Opening Night Allstars Supershow and the Gala screening on ABC TV from March 29. The festival’s flagship development programs RAW Comedy, Class Clowns and Indigenous competition Deadly Funny will also return this year, as will the Great Australian Debate and comedy up late events.

Adelaide Fringe

The month-long open access Adelaide Fringe is regarded as one of the world’s best and largest arts festivals. It showcases contemporary work in a variety of art forms, including cabaret, dance, circus and physical theatre, film, music, comedy, visual art and design. The festival has a long history of promoting artistic expression and inclusion, and it is committed to embracing new trends and fostering creativity.

Each year, the Fringe attracts many local and international visitors and has established itself as an important platform for emerging artists. In 2019, the festival generated an estimated A$95.1 million in gross economic expenditure for South Australia, with over 2.7 million attendances across free and ticketed events.

The Fringe offers a range of comedy shows, including stand-up performances and improv and sketch comedy. It also hosts a variety of other genres, such as live art and music. In addition to comedy, the Adelaide Fringe also features performance venues, restaurants and bars.

Whether you’re looking for a laugh or simply want to relax, the Fringe is the perfect place to visit. The program includes a wide range of funny shows, from the raunchy to the sublime. Comedian Denise Scott will explore motherhood from the cradle to the empty nest in her show Mother Bare, while Hughesy’s The Project replacement Peter Helliar will unleash his riotous Totes Grouseballs for three nights only.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival

The 23rd Adelaide Cabaret Festival kicked off with the sold out Variety Gala at Festival Theatre on 9 June. It’s a degustation of what’s in store for this year’s program which will feature 342 artists and musicians across 91 performances including 13 world premieres.

The night was a feast for the eyes and ears with performers from around Australia and internationally making their way onto the stage. MC Frank Ford greeted the audience with a heartfelt message about the role the Festival plays in South Australia and the importance of showcasing homegrown talent.

Actor and singer Melissa Madden Gray took to the stage as her alter ego Meow Meow to share her memories of working with fellow actor Barry Humphries. Their performance of a medley of songs from the Weimar period (or as Humphries referred to them – ‘the music Hitler hated’) was well received by an appreciative audience.

The night also saw the announcement of this year’s OUR MOB emerging artist. Lesley Coulthard will perform a one-night only show, Edge of Reality featuring beautiful voices and clever minds in musical theatre. Kate Ceberano takes her talents to the next level in her one-night only performance with orchestral versions of her songs. Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis are back with RocKwiz which this year salutes local legends from Cold Chisel and Paul Kelly to Sia and Hilltop Hoods.