Martin Urbano: ‘I have spent years honing an hour people call tough to market and confusing’

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Martin Urbano: ‘I have spent years honing an hour people call tough to market and confusing’

Martin Urbano
Words by Sarah Duggan

Martin Urbano brings his Apology Comeback Tour to Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival is upon us yet again, and a standout this year is proudly politically incorrect comedian Martin Urbano. Performing ten uproarious shows as part of his Apology Comeback Tour, Urbano isn’t just pushing boundaries; he’s pole-vaulting over them with his signature style that gleefully tackles the untouchables of PC culture.

When asked what audiences can expect from his shows, Urbano muses, “I have spent years honing an hour people call “tough to market” and “confusing.” I’m hoping that for some reason out of nowhere, the hour becomes easy to market and understand over here and becomes a big hit. In a nutshell, I’m the Rolf Harris of America.” 

Martin Urbano

  • Tue 2 Apr – Sat 6 Apr: 6.30pm; Sun 7 Apr: 5.30pm
  • Melbourne Town Hall – Cloak Room
  • Tickets here

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Always armed with a witty retort or clever quip, Urbano never misses a beat. “To guarantee success in Australia, I threw out a lot of my old material and have replaced it with a large amount of local references.” Urbano jokes, adding, “I won’t understand half of the things I’ll be saying, but I hope this pandering will make people happy.”

As with all forms of entertainment, comedy is always evolving, and the way we consume it is changing too. No matter how you’ve trained the algorithm, TikTok and Instagram will continuously shove hilarious videos in your face- it’s why we love them. But these new formats have altered the landscape of comedy, making it simultaneously easier for anyone to put content out there, and harder to keep up with the pressures of constantly posting quality content.

“When I started stand-up comedy, I had always hoped an app like TikTok would be invented one day,” Urbano says earnestly. “The art of constantly posting clips seems healthy for young up-and-coming comedians.” Oh, never mind, he’s being sarcastic- but he absolutely has a point.

In his debut hour, Urbano takes on the persona of a cancelled comedian making his comeback after a public apology, hence the title Apology Comeback Tour. Though never actually cancelled, Urbano jibes that he isn’t necessarily playing a character on stage, saying, “Audiences can safely take my comedy at face value. However, I do take pride in pushing my boundaries and taking massive risks, as seen in my Uber bit or my Scooby Doo and Shaggy impressions. I think my style is just how I normally and naturally joke. The particular direction I evolved towards on stage came from looking at all the comedians complaining about PC culture, the MeToo movement and general progressive ideologies, and I thought, “Well, I can do that”.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a position where you’ve had to try and make someone laugh, or be funny on command, you’ll know that standup comedy is not for the weak. Letting us in on the secret to his success, Urbano says, “I find a fun way to develop material is by laying out every kind of drug on a big table in front of me, and then just vibing.” He may or may not be joking, who really knows at this point.  

“I think audiences like when they are involved in the show”, Urbano says, when asked what makes for a memorable performance. “I always make sure to have a small conversation with each and every audience member that comes to my show while I am onstage. Then they’ll always remember that comedian who took time out of his set to ask them questions”. Performing at the Melbourne Town Hall Cloak Room with a capacity of around one hundred people each night, we can only hope that Urbano finds time for a joke or two among all that chit-chat.  

While standup is always a good time, there’s often a risk of encountering hecklers. Though sometimes they can make things entertaining, often their unwelcome commentary is just annoying. On dealing with hecklers, Urbano says, “I don’t know if it’s because my stuff is so scripted or because I don’t care the what the audience has to say whatsoever, but I think I don’t leave many opportunities for people to heckle… when I do get a heckler, I crumple and will start crying and say something like, “I’m trying to follow my dreams up here. Please stop. Usually works!”

You probably won’t agree with everything he says (that’s kind of the point!), but there’s no doubt that Martin Urbano’s Apology Comeback Tour is one to watch at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 

Get tickets here.

This article was made in partnership with Melbourne International Comedy Festival.