The Sydney Comedy Festival can be a real mixed bag. You can fork out a bundle to see a big international comic and not even crack a smile, or you could wander into a tiny bar and have your hair blown back by an undiscovered gem. That’s part of the charm, too – you never know exactly what you might stumble upon.

Flipping through the program can be intimidating, with hundreds of names and endless pages of grinning comics vying for your attention. Close the brochure. We went straight to the source, approaching the comedians themselves for their top picks of the festival and got the inside word on the big names, and those we'll all be talking about next year.


Steen
Heavy Hitter:
Ronny Chieng, one of my favourite comedians to watch onstage. Guaranteed laughs and amazing merchandise after the show.

Middleweight:
Cam Knight, one of the most consistent and hilarious performers going around. The way he interacts with his audiences… kisses his thumb and index finger

Take a Chance On:
Susie Youssef, an amazingly funny and skillful sketch/improviser who has a debut show that is parfait.


Craig Hill
Heavy Hitter:
Jimeoin! I saw his show last year at the Edinburgh Festival and didn't stop laughing the whole way through. He's such a gifted storyteller who magically manages to make the minutiae of life hysterical.

Middleweight:
Well above middleweight – Gordon Southern! We did gigs together for the Norwegian Navy (you can imagine my delight!). Gordon just loves doing comedy and keeps coming up with new ideas – his enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. Go see someone doing a job they love brilliantly!

Take a Chance On:
Joel Creasey. They're raving about him in Melbourne, and quite rightly, too! Anyone who has supported Joan Rivers is a must see! I hung out with him last year and we just laughed ridiculously the whole time. Genuinely funny and adorable. Treat yourself.


Genevieve Fricker
Heavyhitter:
Matt Okine: Happiness Not Included. Okine is one of the top three comics in Australia – that's not my opinion, that's just a fact. He works hard and makes it look effortless and I've never seen him do anything less than a five-star gig. His show is everything stand up should be – joyful, real, slick, silly and funny as fuck.

Middleweight:
Anne Edmonds: It's Eddo! Every time I see Eddo (I can't call her Anne, it just doesn't seem right) she makes me laugh in a new, completely unexpected way. She's one of the most original, likeable and natural comics on the scene at the moment, and this show has been killing it down in Melbourne, so see it or miss out on something special.

Take a Chance On:
Jekyll x James: Paradise! I adore this show. The best way I can describe it: if Flight of the Conchords, The Mighty Boosh and Iggy Pop drank too much Malibu and wrote a show together, and even then I don't think I'm doing it justice. Cam (James) and Jared (Jekyll) have a wonderful chemistry together, it makes this show so exciting to watch. They've been touring it for a while now, so it's guaranteed hilarious/shit hot.


Greg Fleet
Heavy Hitter:
Peter Berner. A true artist. A word sculptor. A great, great stand-up comedian.

Middleweight:
Joel Creasey. This guy is the hot ticket right now for good reason. Plus he bought me a cheeseburger (twice).

Take a Chance On:
Two equal contenders! Amos Gill. Hilarious. Inventive. I taught him all he knows. Also, Damian Smith’s brilliant show is about living with Asperger’s syndrome. I counted 1,369 laughs.


Luke Heggie
Heavy Hitter:
Matt Okine. Despite selling out to commercialism in a disgusting display of selfish ambition, Matt is one of Australia's best comedians. He's in form, and when he's not giving out icy-cold cans of coke, or knocking household pests for six, or whatever he does in the media, he's on stage, bringing the goods.

Middleweight:
Cam Knight: Cam Knight is belting festivals at the moment with nothing but a great show. He is always in form, and if you don't get to check him out, sucked in.

Take a Chance On:
Amos Gill is a disturbed young man with fashion hair. As a comic, he is well beyond his 22 years and if you don't go and see him soon, you'll pay much more in some theatre somewhere to do so in a few years. Consider yourselves forewarned.


Jeff Green
Heavy Hitter:
Dom Irrera. Once Dom gets through your funny radar and into your unprotected soft tissue he keeps hitting you until you’re reduced to endorphin-infused jelly. My wife adores him and she’s a tough judge of comedy. Dom is world class, unique and you should kill for a ticket.

Middleweight:
Luke Heggie. Local hero Luke turns his encounters with Sydney’s human flotsam and jetsam into hilarious, beautifully sculpted vignettes and you’ll be in safe yet exciting hands with this skilful comedy alchemist. He won RAW (Comedy) hands down and just goes from strength to strength. His new show is his very best.

Take a Chance On:
Amos Gill. Don’t be fooled by that handsome, cherubic face. Amos has a super-sharp, lawyer-trained mind sitting behind it. This young teller of hilarious, darkly confessional yarns needs no gimmicks, just a mic and a beer to help him effortlessly craft personal pain into public joy. Don’t miss him.


Susie Youseff
Heavyhitter:
When he isn't hosting Triple J breakfast like a boss, Matt Okine is tearing up comedy stages everywhere. See him now before he takes over the world.

Middleweight:
If I had a brother I would want him to be Ray Badran. He is fast becoming one of the best writers and performers in the country.

Take a Chance On:
William Erimya is ridiculous. Perfectly ridiculous. My face hurts thinking about how funny this dude is – sketch comedy at its quirkiest and best.


Matt Okine
Heavy Hitter:
Ronny Chieng. After an absolutely stellar run at the MICF, this previously middleweight fighter has packed on the pounds and can now go toe-to-toe with any of Australia’s big guns. Buy a ticket ASAP!

Middleweight:
Steen Raskopolous – He won the “best newcomer” at the SCF last year, and I won’t be surprised if he takes out the big prize this year. He definitely means business.

Take a Chance On:
Susie Youssef – Susie’s mash-up of characters and stand-up make this show one of the strongest debuts of the year.


For more information and for the full program, see sydneycomedyfest.com.au