Sydney Comedy Festival pulls huge international acts. This year it’s the likes of Ross Noble, Arj Barker and Stephen K Amos. Then there’s the glut of recognisable Aussie personalities and commercial-radio DJs.

We’ve left off the really big names, only because it’s likely we’d be telling you what you already know.

These 10 local and international acts are ones we reckon are worth taking a chance on this year if you like intelligent, incisive and, at times, totally surreal comedy.

Sam Campbell – Cambo’s On Top
This is some real weird shit. Cambo’s On Top confounds crowds by way of televisual aids, poorly made costumes and the power of cringe. Campbell might seem like a total nutter on stage, but his sense of the absurd is genius.

April 23–24, Sydney Town Hall

Kate Coates – GUYS, I’M OKAY
Kate Coates travelled to Chicago to hone her improv skills – she trained at The Second City and iO Chicago (alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Bob Odenkirk). GUYS, I’M OKAY is loaded with original sketches and great character work.

April 21–22, The Factory Theatre

Alice Fraser – The Resistance
The Resistance involves jokes, spoken-word and music. Last year, Fraser was popular with critics and punters at the Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra Comedy Festivals. Since then she’s debuted her intriguing style at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with great success.

April 28 to May 1, The Enmore Theatre

Sarah Gaul – Slumberland
Sarah Gaul’s show was made possible by the festival’s Fresh initiative, which funds eight young performers. Gaul is definitely worthy of the backing. She won Most Outstanding New Cabaret Work for Good Grief in the 2012 Melbourne Short and Sweet Cabaret, and was a finalist in the 2014 International Cabaret Contest. SLUMBERLAND is an hour of musical comedy, tackling issues such as Pilates and bacon. If cabaret isn’t your thing, Gaul might change your mind.

Jack Gow – Everybody’s Doing It! Dying That Is…
Jack Gow is a growing force in Australian comedy. He was picked from the 2015 Break Out Comedy showcase, and has twice won The Moth’s StorySLAM. Everybody’s Doing It! Dying That Is… weaves through a series of deeply personal, thought-provoking anecdotes. Gow also promises the audience “an ample use of gold spandex”, which should be reason enough to buy a ticket.

April 21–24, The Enmore Theatre

Patrick Morrow – Too Dumb for a Novel
In 2015, Patrick Morrow sold out his first season of Sydney Fringe Festival. That’s usually a pretty good sign for any comic. His act is focussed on storytelling, rather than an hour of joke-laugh-repeat. Fortunately, his stories happen to be incredibly funny.

April 21–22, The Factory Theatre

Rhys Nicholson – Bona Fide
For many, Rhys Nicholson needs no introduction. Since launching from RAW Comedy in 2009, Nicholson picked up the 2012 Sydney Comedy Festival’s Best Newcomer, and supported heavy-hitters such as Louis CK, Amy Schumer, Kathy Griffin and Wil Anderson. Bona Fide is Nicholson’s fifth solo show. The gags come from that realm between the totally crude and bitingly satiric. There’s also a healthy helping of self-deprecation.

May 12–14, The Comedy Store

Tom Walker – Beep Boop
In 1995, Homer Simpson declared: “That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college.” Tom Walker pulled the same manoeuvre. He moved to France to study under Philippe Gaulier (who is basically a clown Jedi). During those two years of tutelage, Beep Boop was perfected. Walker’s show takes physical comedy to a strange new level. For this clowning around, Walker’s been shortlisted for Best Newcomer at Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

April 21–24, The Factory Theatre

Felicty Ward – What If There Is No Toilet?
Okay, now we’re cheating. Felicity Ward is a well-established comedian, storyteller and all-round funny person. However, this is her first stand-up show in some time. What If There Is No Toilet addresses irritable bowel syndrome, among other equally important aspects of the human condition.

April 23–24, The Giant Dwarf

Susie Youssef – Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef
Susie Youssef has already appeared in three television series for the ABC: How Not To Behave, Media Circus and The Checkout. Her stand-up routine is infused with her dry wit, sketch comedy and has a rapid-fire pace.

May 5–7, The Factory Theatre