MICF 2014: The Axis of Awesome – Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas

Axis of Awesome - MICF 2014Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Many may perceive this comedy rock band as a one-hit-wonder as they are most known for one particular song on YouTube however if you were to dig deeper, you will soon discover they are anything but. The Axis of Awesome are a pop rock sensation that specialize in parodying hit songs.

Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas begins with a perfect parodied medley of the three songs that created the show’s title: Viva La Vida (Coldplay), Living La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin) and Viva Las Vegas (Elvis). Fortunately this is an excellent combination that appeals to all of the age groups in the audience who immediately rise to the mood of the occasion.

The band’s set is a good mix of their newer songs as well as reprising some songs from their first album, Animal Vehicle.  Jordan Raskopoulos has the energy levels of the crowd on a consistent high as any band front-man would while guitarist Lee Naimo demonstrates some deliberately transparent character work, most notably in a one-man song about his criminal ways. Both Raskopoulos and Naimo use their trademarked “picking on the little guy” on keyboardist Benny Davis throughout the show to great comic effect.

After a multitude of syllable perfect parodies and some original works, the band open up the show for some audience participation which gave them a chance to get intimate with their audience.  No doubt every evening’s performance will bring something different; for the show I attended there was shameless dad-dancing going on and also some “Choke ’n’ Stroke” action – something you’ll only fully enjoy when seeing it live.

The show wraps up with the band’s constantly evolving claim to fame Four Chords song. This song – which is possibly the only musical remix to contain Elvis, Green Day and Miley Cyrus together – is a clear crowd favourite, getting laughter of recommendation almost every fifteen seconds.

All in all, The Axis of Awesome delivered a very fun and well-formatted ‘rockstravaganza’. It is a high energy and highly theatrical show which will bring a smile to everyone.


The Axis of Awesome are performing at The Famous Spiegeltent at Federation Square every day throughout the festival.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

If you are impressed by Benny’s performance in the band, you should also check him out at the Hi-Fi Bar on April 17th where he will be doing some of his solo stuff as his alternate persona ‘The Human Jukebox’.

*Editor note: I went to see Benny’s debut show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year – check out my Broadway Baby review here.

MICF 2014: Lindsay Webb – What’s Your Name, What Do You Do?

Lindsay Webb - MICF 2014Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

The title of this show should give away the premise, forewarning the audience that this will be quite an interactive show. After a brief introduction and some witty throw-away jokes, Lindsay Webb lulls the audience in to the sense of safety and security which is all but mandatory for a show that requires us to be relaxed and happy enough to reply to his inquisitions without hesitation.

What’s Your Name, What Do You Do? is either spectacular improv or a seamless display of well-honed and rehearsed one liner responses to the most common of answers to his questions. Regardless of which it is this aspect of the show appeared effortless and flawless, with Webb showing that he was as relaxed with what he was delivering, as we were to hear it.

In the last twenty minutes, Webb drops his guard and lets us in to his world. He recounts an event which clearly panicked him at the time, or at least played upon his paranoia, and had the audience on the edge of their seats, listening to every detail. This brilliant tale brought forth a multitude of laughs from the crowd, particularly at Webb’s guilt, and while his pain was obvious, sometimes that’s the hit you need to take for your art.

Even though the show I attended had a disappointing turnout, there were no awkward silences and Webb had everyone in the room laughing hard. The fact that he was able to get so much from such a small crowd speaks volumes in and of itself for the quality of his work.

What’s Your Name, What Do You Do? is a brilliant hour of comedy. It is a beautifully choreographed play on words expertly delivered to the standard that one would expect from a comedian as seasoned as this nine year veteran of comedy.


Lindsay Webb is performing at the Downstairs Lounge at the Swanston Hotel until April 20th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

MICF 2014: Timothy Clark and Sam Petersen – Prettygoodfellas

Prettygoodfellas - MICF 2014Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

I would have loved to have seen the initial ideas being thrown around for this show. Regardless of how it was conceived, the end result is a well-rehearsed show that is packed with larrikinism.

The concept of Prettygoodfellas is a simple one: Timothy Clark and Sam Petersen always wanted to be what they call ‘gangster comedians’. In this show they get to do just that; pulling off the heist of the century and bringing the audience along for the ride.

At the start of the show, we are informed that we are hostages and are left hoping that if their jokes “kill”, that it’s purely metaphorically. Clark and Petersen are suitably clad for the occasion and they each get a turn to deliver a solo set.

Sam ‘Hairtrigger’ Petersen is up first and his material ranges from politics at home to stories of true London hospitality. The duo are then reunited briefly and some discussion is had about how their heist is going. Authorities are consulted, an audience spokesman is chosen before Tim “Wildcard” Clark takes to the stage. During his set, he dispels rumours of flatting, rolls out some fantastic pop culture and music references, and tells us tales of exposure to semi-racist dad jokes.

Complete with audio cameos from Greg Fleet and a surprise appearance from a well-known big name, Prettygoodfellas constantly has you wondering where it’s going to go next. The show’s climax has some brilliant reveals and a spectacular plot twist. There is also some over-acting that would be perfectly at home alongside Ian Smith (or “Harold” from Neighbours as he is better known as on the panto circuit in England), yet it still manages to perfectly fit in to the show’s premise and with the personality of the comedians.

Clark and Petersen were clearly nervous on the night as it was their first performance and show together and while there is a lot of room for improvement, considering it is their first production, the show is well delivered. They are definitely comedians to watch and I look forward to watching them develop and seeing what they produce when they are more seasoned.

3-starsPrettygoodfellas is at the Imperial Hotel every day throughout the festival.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

MICF 2014: I love Green Guide Letters with Steele Saunders

I love Green Guide LettersReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Steele Saunders’ comedy podcast is an interesting concept and one that is not too hard to get behind.  I love Green Guide Letters is, put simply, about complaining and having a go at people who love to complain.

There have been a number of regulars appear over the show’s lifetime, both as contributors to the Green Guide letters and as guests making an appearance.  There was even a road trip to meet one of the most proliferous letter writers at his retirement home to do a live, on-site recording.

This podcast is a brilliant chance to hear some of your favourite comedians sit and chat for about twenty minutes before going on to attack the Green Guide for content.  Occasionally Saunders raids the Green Guide archives and brings a classic letter to the fore.  My personal favourite was the Glenn Robins episode where all of his characters were routinely assassinated by the letter-writing public.

Seeing the fanbase that his podcast was gaining, Saunders was among the first to begin a live podcast recording tradition during comedy festivals.  Now it is not surprising to see live podcasts every year at the Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane comedy festivals.

I love Green Guide Letters is not for everyone but it is a great opportunity to meet the creators and the guests, many of whom bring some of the biggest laughs at the festival.  The best part is if you can’t be there, or even if you are there, you can listen to it later and enjoy the hilarity that ensues.

3-starsI love Green Guide Letters is recorded live every Saturday throughout the festival at the Downstairs Lounge of the Swantson Hotel.  For details and to book tickets, click here.  All live recordings and episodes can be found on the podcast website.

Steele Saunders also has a solo show at the festival – check out The Laughing Kiwi’s review here.

MICF 2014: Adam Richard – Gaypocalypse

Adam Richard - MICF 2014Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

If you’ve ever seen Adam Richard do any kind of stand up before, you will know that it’s going to get graphic and filthy, so much so that you feel a shower would be an appropriate chaser. But if you can stomach it, it’s worth it as his material is so funny.

Adam Richard is a flamboyant local comedy icon with ten years of breakfast radio under his belt as well as his landmark appearances on Celebrity Dog School and the belly-flopped Celebrity Splash. Known for not holding back, Richard is well versed in letting people know exactly how things work, sans society-induced sugar-coating and gloss.

Gaypocalypse takes the audience all over the place, but in a way that we never feel lost. Richard makes us take a very serious and sincere look at the zombified remains of a life, when it ends and when things change. He explores the idea that life ending doesn’t mean it is the end; that it could just be the end of an era or just a monumental event that changes the path of your life.

Richard tackles and answers many questions throughout the show. Who are the government and government lobbyists hiding behind the excuses of “boat people” and reneging the marriage equality laws? Who should be sent to combat the environmental impact of a deity’s anger? Who should you get to organise a dance party?

This well-seasoned performer manages to eloquently take us through a whole segment of life, giving us several different perspectives and letting us choose our own adventure and opinions when it comes to what really matters in life. Gaypocalypse is a beautiful compilation of sentimentality, storytelling and a bum sex joke at the end to lighten the mood and wrap it up nicely.

Adam Richard is in the Backstage Room at the Melbourne Town Hall until April 20th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

MICF 2014: Steele Saunders – Rosebud

Steele Saunders - MICF 2014Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Between his very popular podcast I Love Green Guide Letters, the comedy rooms he runs around Melbourne and from his fabled appearances on Channel 10’s Studio 10, Steele Saunders is becoming a very popular name in the Australian comedy scene. But this year, this well seasoned performer lets down his walls.

For an hour, we are transported to Rosebud, a rich, timeless gem of a small town which lives in the shadow of its big neighbour, Melbourne. From an ill-fated hovercraft to the simple nicknames kindly and lovingly bestowed upon the residents by each other, this town reeks of repressed failure. We get introduced to the locals and hear about all the sights, which include mini golf and that special white box on the pier.

Saunders takes us behind the scenes of the worst night in his life, the lead up to it and the sobering days after. He delves in to the reality that comes with the fun of being young and doing what people do in small country towns. We hear of tall tales that come with boys being boys and the discovery of the small things in life, like when it’s important to keep your knees together and what photos might “poop” up in your future.

It’s important to note that this show touches some very serious topics and often looks at the funny side of it so those with particular sensitivities may choose to steer clear of this. However if you’re hardened to reality, and are prepared to see a man bare it all for comedy, Rosebud simply cannot be missed.

Put simply, this show is brilliant. It is perfectly assembled, eloquently articulated and a little bit embarrassing.


Steele Saunders will be performing at the Imperial Hotel until April 20th (not Mondays) – click here for more details and to book tickets.

Saunders is also at the Downstairs Lounge of the Swantson Hotel every Saturday throughout the festival recording a live episode of I love Green Guide Letters – for details and tickets to this, click here.  The Laughing Kiwi also attended this – check out his review.

MICF 2014: James Acaster – Lawnmower

James AcasterReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

James Acaster’s sweet and boyish charm has always helped him win over the audience and in this year’s show that certainly hasn’t changed.  Lawnmower gives this seasoned and successful crowd favourite the perfect opportunity to unveil his latest material to an audience who is all too ready to listen.

Throughout the show Acaster talks about what he considers the best of life.  You get to hear the best of his business ideas, presumably for if comedy doesn’t work out, and some excellently thought out opinions on what and who you should, and shouldn’t, take to an orchard and a night club.  For the first time we also get some brilliant character acting from him which is truly riveting stuff.

Acaster’s usually soft spoken and eloquent on-stage persona is not likely to offend so this is a show you can easily bring mum and dad to without worry.  The few times that this persona is broken, it is done with perfectly thought out, comedic precision that catches the audience off guard almost every time, leading to a spectacular explosion of laughter.

Another highlight is when he re-enacts some of the best music of our age before going on to debate about them in a timely fashion.  I thought he had some interesting thoughts about the trends of late adopters who claim ownership of current musical masterpieces which were originally discarded.

It’s hard to see how anyone could go wrong in going to see this show.  Acaster is a brilliant performer whose style of comedy is appropriate for all ages.


James Acaster is performing in the Cloak Room at the Melbourne Town Hall until April 20th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

*Editor note: Check out what I thought of James Acaster’s show when he performed at last year’s NZ International Comedy Festival – here is my review!

MICF 2014: Gordon Southern – Your New Favourite Comedian

Gordon Southern - Your New Favourite ComedianReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Gordon Southern is a fantastic British comedian who has stolen the limelight and entertained us in Australia for the last ten years. He is a well-known face in the comedy circuit but whom I feel is terribly under appreciated. If the secrets of his hilarity were exposed to the comedy-going public, I’m sure he would be selling out rooms every night.

Southern is a Hives fan, which some may have already gathered from his outfit, and this is where the show begins. Taking us back to when he was 18, Your New Favourite Comedian is a systemic review of Southern’s life, focusing particularly on the last decade when he started coming to Australia.

Tales told over the hour brilliantly encapsulate and deliver stories of love, employment and that cockiness that follows us around forever after our first proper job. We also hear of first loves, fourth loves and of the ones who got away.

In this show Southern plays a character which teaches us some surprisingly alphabetical life lessons. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Southern portray a character but judging by the reaction of the crowd the audience seemed to love it.

This hour will take you around the world – starting in Essex, going to Australia, almost never leaving Singapore, and finishes off with a more than sweet happy ending – all while systematically removing the rug from under any hecklers who weren’t written in to the show.

Your New Favourite Comedian is an all-round good show for all audiences which will leave you feeling better about everything. It is strongly written, and strongly presented by a well experienced comedian.


Gordon Southern is performing in The Swamp at the Gin Palace until April 20th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

*Editor note: If you need more convincing check out this rave review, also from The Laughing Kiwi, or this Broadway Baby one penned last year by yours truly!

MICF 2014: Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar

Lawrence MooneyReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

There is a particular level of class anticipated in a Lawrence Mooney show and this quality is just as present this year. At the start, Mooney firmly describes the tale behind the show’s title and in the hour goes on to illustrate why it is indeed accurate.

Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar is rife with the classic Mooney charm, the kinds that fans will probably know quite well. A cheeky grin before a brilliant line in a naughty joke leaves the audience either laughing or trying to suppress their laughter because they think they shouldn’t laugh.

Throughout the show, Lawrence effortlessly rolls out some brilliant material about his current life and his marriage. He talks about the joys of new parenthood specifically the dos and don’ts surrounding it, fortunately leaving most of the clichés of comedy in that area relatively untouched.

This is an hour of comedic excellence that gives you an insight in to the average man in his 40’s. We learn the motivations behind Mooney’s actions, his experimental nature and a story about nesting that leaves us wanting to do some avian Google-ing to help answer some of the big questions in life.

Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar is for anyone who can handle a mature level of conversation, or if you like dinosaurs. If you also like a bit of a dirty joke told in between some tales that can make you laugh just a little too hard because you can relate just a little too much, then Mooney will knock it out of the park for you.


Lawrence Mooney is a Stupid Liar is at the Melbourne Town Hall until April 12th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

From mid-May you will also be able to see Mooney back on ABC2 for season two of Dirty Laundry Live.

MICF 2014: CJ Delling – Reality Bandit

CJ DellingReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show, I was looking forward to seeing it nonetheless. Fresh from a season at the Adelaide Fringe, Reality Bandit is billed as a show about “truth, biases, and other problems you didn’t know you had”.

CJ Delling is a Sydney-based German comedian who has performed across the US, Canada, and Scotland. Though only performing to an expected smaller and quieter crowd due to the early evening time slot, Delling never eased back on the enthusiasm but delivered her material confidently as if she were performing to a few hundred people.

The show consists of some well-crafted one-liners that would sit well with anyone who grew up near a beach, or in Wales. Delling’s stories spanned over the last decade during her time in Australia, in particular the adventures and lifestyle changes that come with it. She also half focuses – and a little heavily in parts – on the rarity of the combination that she is a German comedian living in Australia.

I don’t know if I was taken on a “cheerful comical expedition into our relationship with reality” but I think overall Reality Bandit is a good show with a fair amount of potential. I definitely believe that it would have brought in a larger audience had this show been scheduled later.


Reality Bandit is at The Bull and Bear Tavern Wednesdays to Saturdays throughout the festival at 6:30pm.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.