The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow is a showcase of global comedians- witty entertainers hailing from a mixed-bag of backgrounds. This year’s Brisbane lineup includes Daniel Fernandes (India) (he tells me after the show he’s from Bombay, specifically), Sharul Channa (India/Singapore), Andy Saunders (Indigenous-Australian), Carl Donnelly (UK), and Australian-based David Callan.
Callan, a seasoned entertainer, is first on stage. He’s the host of this year’s MICF Roadshow. As he steps out to warm up the crowd, I notice the couple next to me break into an excited giggle. Callan seems to have this kind of influence, he carries with him a peremptory ambience of humour, a way of somehow predisposing those around him to laughter.
He carefully explains this year’s lineup has been specially selected with the intention of appealing to varying levels of humour. A ‘something for everyone’ kind of show. He encourages claps, ‘woos’, and whistles – a way for the audience to demonstrate their appreciation for the jokes. Clap if you can relate, woo if you agree, and whistle – because if you know how, you should do it more often.
Callan manages to seamlessly weave together the ensuing acts of the international joke-tellers. He’s an exceptional orator, with a casually intrepid, yet thoughtful approach to comedy.
He introduces Sharul Channa as the first in the lineup for the night.
Channa is the only female performer in the group, but from the get-go, is not at all apprehensive in crossing the proverbial line, springing into audacious action almost immediately.
‘Are you two together?’ She asks an audience member, shortly after taking the stage.
‘No? Then why are you sitting so close to her? Are you a creep?’
The crowd reacts to her cheeky energy with an amalgamated wave of laughter.
Channa’s on-stage personality comes across equal parts intelligent and sassy. Her comedic appeal is altogether amplified in her boldness, laying down a tone for her entire set, which encompasses a range of topics, from women’s issues to the intricacies of life and travel as an adult third culture kid.
Next in the lineup is Carl Donnelly, whose discourse and stage personality dramatically varies to that of Channa’s.
Donnelly’s charm is in his awkwardness, discussing his misadventures and misfortune in everyday tasks and events. But, despite the seemingly ordinary subjects engaged in his material, he manages to create a captivating and hilarious dialogue, delivering on the laughs throughout his entire set. Donnelly is honest, relatable, and exceptionally natural in his comedy.
After a short intermission, Callan welcomes back the audience, and introduces Daniel Fernandes to the stage. Fernandes possesses a relaxed demeanour, cool and collected. He starts off with a reference back to Channa’s set, a subtle gesture of respect for his placement among peers. On the whole, his material is fresh and original, covering everything from cultural appropriation to Trump. Each new joke draws a little closer to the PC line.
‘I shouldn’t be laughing at that’ A woman in the row in front of me huffs during one of Fernandes’ particularly cheeky punch lines, and then breaks into an irrepressible chuckle.
Fernandes encourages the audience to dare just a little closer to the inviolable, before Andy Saunders steps out.
Saunders is spritely and rambunctious, with a captivating knack for unique impressions and vocal percussion. He’s considerately scripted his set, incorporating local suburbs, and the local’s perceptions of them. It’s obvious the audience appreciates it, there’s thunderous claps and woos following each of his roguish punch lines.
In fact, there’s no shortage of claps, woos, or whistles during any given part of the show (I should note, there were also closed-eyed-seal-claps, foot stamping, and the odd snort, ostensibly produced by members of the audience during regular and intense bouts of laughter).
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow, with David Callan, Sharul Channa, Carl Donnelly, Daniel Fernandes, and Andy Saunders, is, overall, a journey of humour. It covers topics from the everyday to the taboo, shared through the lenses of several cultures and perspectives. A night out that does not disappoint, it’s truly a ‘something for everyone’ kind of event.