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MICF Menu: Friday March 31

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back and Beat Magazine is proud to present MICF Menu - your inside track to all the delectable treats of this year’s festival season. Hope you’ve left some room since last festival, because this year’s program serves up a veritable smorgasbord of shows. I’m Nick Mason and I’ll be previewing each day of the festival before it happens, from recommendations to one-off events and even special offers.

Today marks the first Friday of the festival. To paraphrase the immortal words of R.Kelly, it’s the freakin’ weekend and you’re about to have you some fun. If you’re not really sure where to begin with the festival program, though, allow me to assist you with some recommendations.
 
MICF ENTREES (Early Shows, until 7pm)

 
Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour
 
Strap in, people - you’re about to be empowered. In this energising hour, improviser/sketch comedian Hayley Tantau portrays Cindy Salmon - a headstrong, take-no-prisoners, suffer-no-fools self-help guru and proud inspiration to feminists everywhere. She’s a larger-than-life, pantsuit-clad powerhouse - a kind of obnoxious Oprah. Oh, and she’s the kind of person that tweets almost exclusively in caps. No, really - jump on Twitter and check out Cindy Salmon’s account for yourself. And while you’re there, take a quick look at the superb animated teasers for the festival show. Frankly, if you’re not sufficiently hyped by the time you’ve done all that, that’s on you. Tantau has been playing the part of Cindy Salmon for a couple of years now, blending satire with surrealism to great acclaim. So, do yourself a favour - no, really, help yourself - and get down to The Forum Theatre at 6pm (5pm Sunday) for an empowering experience like no other.

 
The Dizzy Biz - Elevate!
 
Picture this: four neurotic millennials find themselves stuck in an elevator and are forced to confront each other and themselves. Anyone else feeling a serious Breakfast Club vibe, with added claustrophobia? Sounds great to me. The added bonus here is that Elevate! is a musical, with “quite a few swears and sexual references”. Elevate! is brought to you by The Dizzy Biz Alliance, a new Melbourne-based production company. I’m curious to see how their mission statement - a commitment to exploring the bizarre - plays with such an early timeslot. But if there’s one thing to be said about The Butterfly Club, they know how to pick ‘em. Showtime is 5:30pm. They only have a short season at The Butterfly Club, wrapping up this weekend, so catch it while you can.

 
MICF MAIN MEALS (Prime Time, 7pm-10pm)

 
Abandoman - Life + Rhymes
 
Every now and again at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, you’ll be lucky enough to leave a show absolutely awestruck, not sure exactly where to begin. If anyone saw ONGALS in years gone by, you know exactly what I’m on about. Well, get ready to be seriously impressed by Ireland’s dynamic duo Abandoman, whose expertise revolves around taking stories from their audiences and whipping up songs on the fly. No, really - they specialise in improvised hip hop. Understandably, they were huge hits at the Opening Night All-Stars showcase and they’re well on their way to having an epic debut run here in Melbourne. I won’t do their brand of hilarity justice - so, do what thousands of people across Europe, the US, Canada and Asia have done and see Abandoman for yourself. They’re strutting their stuff 7pm (6pm Sundays) at the The Famous Spiegeltent.

 
WATSON - Go To Hell!
 
I follow WATSON on social media and, I’m not going to lie, this show looks downright terrifying. Yeah, I’m a total scaredy-cat, I’ll wear that. I’m still keen to check it out, though, because basically every show WATSON has put on in the past has been a huge home run. On appearances, Go To Hell! seems to be the spiritual successor to their award-winning comedy-horror show, Who’s Afraid Of The Dark?. That show was equal parts hilarious, ambitious and immersive and it will be interesting to see how the troupe take things to another level. Whatever they have up their sleeves, you can count on the chemistry between Adam McKenzie, Tegan Higginbotham and Liam Ryan being off-the-charts awesome. Go To Hell! promises to be an unforgettable experience and the troupe’s best offering yet, which is saying something. You can Go To Hell! at 9:30pm (8:30pm Sundays) at The Cooper’s Malthouse until April 23.

 
MICF DESSERTS (Late Shows, 10pm onwards)

 
Perth Comedy Road Trip
 
I’m well-aware that, as Melburnians, we can be a tad snobby at times and our that bad attitude often extends well beyond things like coffee and smashed avo. In fact, I’d bet that right at this very moment you’re saying to no one in particular, “Comedy from Perth? What a fanciful idea!” But stay with it, because as far as showcases go, the Perth Comedy Road Trip looks like a pretty good time. It’s a blend of sketch, improv and stand-up courtesy of Alexander Circosta, Sonny Yang and Tor Snyder. As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. Go have yourself a great time. An important note: both Number 12 La Barre Electronique and The Owl and Cat host the Perth Comedy Road Trip, so you’ll need to double check you’re headed to the right place. But if you’re attending this evening, you’ll need to head to Number 12 La Barre Electronique.

 
Tom Walker & Bridie Connell - MotherFather
 
Tom Walker and Bridie Connell are teaming up to bring you a variety of improvised skits. If that doesn’t sound like anything special, given the variety of improv shows on offer across the festival, it’s probably worth noting that Walker and Connell are National Theatresports Champions and stars of the new Australian series of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia. So, yeah, fair to say it’s going to be good. Go with me on this - whenever I play Marvel vs Capcom I select Venom and Megaman and they make an excellent team. I guess you could say that Tom Walker and Bridie Connell are the Venom and Megaman of the comedy world. You know what, I’ll say that - you don’t have to. Head down to the Melbourne Town Hall to see a couple of comics doing what they do best, 11pm each Friday and Saturday of the festival.

 
MICF SPECIALS (One-Offs and Discounts)
 
Throughout the festival, you can always rely on The Festival Club to cap off an evening in style. Tonight, there’s killer line-up as part of Comedy Bonanza for the measly price of $20. You’ve got your MC Geraldine Hickey, Jacques Barrett, Becky Lucas, Xavier Michelides, Aaron Chen, Larry Dean (UK), Matt Okine, and those hilarious and hyperactive lads Aunty Donna. Plus, you’ve got tunes courtesy of DJ Rainbow Connection following the comedy. Doors at 11:15pm.

So there’s a list of recommendations to help you decide what to see this evening at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. MICF Menu will return next week with more recommendations.