Two thousand comedians from 15 countries, doing 544 shows in more than 100 venues over 26 days. That’s the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year. It will probably take you about 26 days to mine the whole program, so we’ve asked a bunch of comics who are here for the event to do the hard work for us.

Emily Heller

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, which is part of Headliners, in one sentence.
Emily Heller: I will spend 20 minutes desperately pleading with the government of Australia not to make me go back to America.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
EH: I can't wait to see Demi Lardner! I've been a Twitter fan for ages. I'm also told Hannah Gadsby's show is a can't-miss.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
EH: The other acts on the Headliners showcase with me are all A+ excellent top-notch funny people that I love.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
EH: I've seen Simon Taylor do short sets in Los Angeles and I can't wait to see his whole show.

BS: What's your life motto?
EH: It used to be: "Thanks for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever." I even have it tattooed. Now it's: "Please, please don't make me go back to America. I have a few complaints.”


Michael Chamberlin

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Life in Moderation, in one sentence.
Michael Chamberlin: It is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very funny. And goes for an hour. Oh no! That's more than one sentence.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MC: Josh Earl Oliver Up A Tree. It's a kids' show he's been performing for a while now. I'm looking forward to seeing it as I'm going to take along my two nieces but, more importantly, really hope I return home with my two nieces.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MC: Loyiso Gola. A comic from South Africa that I just met. He's done a few crosses from home on a TV show I work on and just wandered into the office. He told me that he once sat behind Spike Lee at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. We were talking basketball, it wasn't just the first thing he blurted out.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
MC: 5 for 5 at 5 at the Imperial Hotel opposite Parliament House. Five comics for five bucks at 5pm during every day of the festival. It's not only a sweet 50 minutes of laughs but it also really makes you want to get a job where it's totally OK to leave work and line up for a comedy show at 4.50pm. Dream big, people!

BS: What's your life motto?
MC: Did you know that in Australia you're legally allowed to marry your aunt or uncle? I just discovered this and it freaks me out. So I suggest everyone takes on this advice/wisdom/motto: don't ever marry your aunt or uncle, ya weirdo!


Mae Martin

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Dope, in one sentence.
Mae Martin: It's about the potential in all of our brains to get addicted to/obsessed with something, and there's a lot of material about Bette Midler for some reason.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MM: Aaron Chen, he's got funny bones, and about 100 others.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MM: I always love watching Josie Long, you leave her shows feeling so buoyed. BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
MM: Emma Sidi, who's part of the New Order line-up from the UK this year. She's an insanely brilliant character act.

BS: What's your life motto?
MM: I just repeat the lyrics to One Direction's "Steal My Girl" like a mantra while a single tear rolls down my face and I think about every relationship I've ever had?


Michael Shafar

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Jewish-ish in one sentence.
Michael Shafar: Jewish-ish is a show about growing up culturally, but not religiously, Jewish. It's comedy from the mean streets of East St Kilda.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MS: Sam Taunton's show Taunts Down for What. I've been gigging with Sam for years and he always makes me laugh. He's an absolute crusher. Go see his debut show before he's too famous and expensive.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
MS: I always love seeing Paul Foot. I haven't seen anybody else be as ridiculous and absurd as him and at the same time be in total control over the audience. He's amazing to watch.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
MS: Alex Ward's show Quiet. She moved from Brisbane to Melbourne a couple of years ago and has been consistently smashing it around town for a while now. Like I said about Sam, go and see Alex before she's too famous and expensive.

BS: What's your life motto?
MS: Never touch a seatbelt on a hot day.


Gillian Cosgriff

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, 8 Songs in 8 Weeks in one sentence.
Gillian Cosgriff: It’s a musical comedy project to combat my extreme procrastination.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
GC: I’m super excited to see new shows from Liam Ryan, Watson, and Rama Nicholas.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
GC: I’m hoping to see Josie Long. I’ve met her once – she was chewing on a pen and it burst and she had a mouthful of ink. If her show’s even half as funny as that I’ll be completely satisfied.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
GC: Curveballs are my jam. I’m super excited for: Jude Perl/Alice Tovey/Double Denim/Bri Williams/Clara Cupcakes – all GREAT!

BS: What's your life motto?
GC: I love this quote from the legendary Gertrude Stein, “You look ridiculous if you dance. You look ridiculous if you don’t dance. So you might as well dance.”


Nikki Britton

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Romanticide, in one sentence.
Nikki Britton: You know how once upon a time, a young woman fell in love with a prince and they lived happily ever after? Well, this show is the opposite of that – with heaps more naughty bits and swearing.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NB: Ben Russell – The Pilot and Isabel Angus – Bliss!. Both brilliant character satirists and Melbourne locals, and two shows I will definitely be packing a nappy to see.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NB: Of course, we will all be racing to check out one or all of Daniel Kitson’s three shows, but I’m also really interested to see Fortune Feimster who is part of the US show Headliners. I saw her in a Groundlings showcase in 2012 in LA and she was gut-bustingly funny. And Loyiso Gola in Dude, where’s my Lion?

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
NB: Georgie Carroll! I don’t know how this woman could not be under anyone’s radar when she is one of the greatest talents in the country, but if she isn’t on your list whack her on there, STAT! (That’s a little medical joke because her show, Gauze and Effect is all about her other life as a nurse. Disclaimer: Jokes in my show, and all of these shows, are much better than that one.)

BS: What's your life motto?
NB: Say yes to everything – if it goes tits up, it’s just more material.


Liam Ryan

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Well That’s Disappointing, in one sentence.
Liam Ryan: One curly stand-up who looks like a lazy Art Garfunkel is pushed to extremes when the headline act he is meant to be supporting doesn't show up [dramatic music sting].

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
LR: David Quirk. I love the way that man tells a story and he's got cheekbones for days.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
LR: Josie Long. She is the best.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
LR: Chimp Cop. Ridiculously fun sketch with plenty of nostalgia stirred through.

BS: What's your life motto?
LR: Shake well before drinking.


Nick Caddaye

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Late Night Letters and Numbers, in one sentence.
Nick Caddaye: Late Night Letters & Numbers is just like the TV show Letters & Numbers, but on later.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NC: There are too many to mention! But if I had to choose one (aside from myself, because I'm great), I'd say Rama Nicholas. She's been doing excellent one-woman theatrical comedy shows for a few years now, and provides welcome relief from the multitude of stand-up shows that dominate the festival.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NC: None of them. No insult to the international acts – they're all good comics – but there are too many top-notch locals to see.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
NC: Sarah Jones – Creepy Dummy. If you like your comedy with a heavy dose of ventriloquism and weirdness, then get along.

BS: What's your life motto?
NC: "Life is too vexatious for glib prosthelytising."


Ginger and Tonic

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Desperate and Dateless, in one sentence.
Ginger and Tonic: Four singing single girls, trying to find a date through cabaret – it’s The Spice Girls meet Bridget Jones meets Single White Female.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
GT: The Wine Bluffs. These guys have been on our to-do list for ages.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
GT: Shirley Gnome – Taking It Up The Notch. What a woman. What a voice!

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
GT: Honor Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva in Cull.

BS: What's your life motto?
GT: Decide when to care, and when not to care.


Alice Fraser

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Empire in one sentence.
Alice Fraser: It's an occasionally silly, occasionally meaningful, hour of probably comedy about quantum physics, and power and Disney villains.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
AF: Laura Davis is always excellent. Michael Workman too. Both acts who are undeniably hilarious but not afraid of the dark.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
AF: Sarah Kendall is an Aussie export but is coming back from the UK and I love her work – its poignant and hilarious. For actual international, Larry Dean is punchy, hilarious and Glaswegian. Or Andy Zaltzman, who is his own very idiosyncratic brand of satirical.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
AF: Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall is criminally underrated and very delightful. His show's called F%k A Duck Here We Go and he has one of the best posters of the fringe.

BS: What's your life motto?
AF: No-one's going to die/We're all going to die.


Emily Tresidder

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show Not Your Ex, in one sentence.
Emily Tresidder: Not Your Ex is the beautiful by-product of a breakup, it's not about the breakup, but the moments of awkwardness, discovery and greatness that followed.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
ET: Bart Freebairn. He gets me every time and I have no doubt this year's show will be the same.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
ET: Abandoman! I go past their poster everyday and when I saw them in Edinburgh they blew my mind, they're awesome!

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
ET: Claire Healy, I saw her do a spot recently, and my goodness her voice is dynamite. I love a bit of musical talent to make me truly appreciate my lack of musical talent.

BS: What's your life motto?
ET: You do you, as long as you doing you doesn't affect me doing me, and vice versa.


Ash Williams

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Back in Business, in one sentence.
Ash Williams: True tales about “business” and “pleasure” from one of the natural and funniest storytellers in Australia.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
AW:Always good to see an up-and-comer like Hughesy.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
AW: Paul Foot and Romesh Ranganathan.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
AW: Nick Capper.

BS: What's your life motto?
AW: Let's do a “deal”.


Jeff Green

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, Honestly! in one sentence.
Jeff Green: Come laugh with me at 2008, my year of hell.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
JG: Alice Fraser.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
JG: Chris D'Elia.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
JG: Amos Gill – young Adelaide comic, who may well have a break out year.

BS: What's your life motto?
JG: Do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.


Neel Kolhatkar

Broadsheet: Tell us about your show, #ObjectifyNeel, in one sentence.
Neel Kolhatkar: #ObjectifyNeel is a funny show where the audience is invited to objectify me on social media afterwards.

BS: Which local act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NK: Aaron Chen.

BS: Which international act are you most looking forward to seeing?
NK: Daniel Sloss.

BS: Which curveball act is on your agenda – something or someone that's under the radar but worth us checking out?
NK: Emily Tresidder.

BS: What's your life motto?
NK: To go through life without a life motto.

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