The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow
What promises to be a riotous week of Australian comedy gets going tomorrow at the Fringe Club with the much anticipated return of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow.
The annual festival is one of the biggest of its kind in the world, and attracts the cream of Australia's stand-up talent. It has been going for 26 years, and the Roadshow - featuring the top comics from the festival - for the past 11, travelling around Australia and to Singapore. Last year it made its Hong Kong debut at the Fringe.
'Last year was fantastic,' says festival director Susan Provan. 'It was our first trip with the Roadshow to Hong Kong, although we've had a relationship with the Fringe Club for many years. It was so satisfying to finally do it. We sold out every show and had to put on extra shows.'
As last year, performances will run simultaneously in the small upstairs and downstairs spaces, and the comedians will commute between the two, playing one 20-minute set in each.
'We toyed with the idea of going to a bigger venue, but we like the Fringe Club, so we decided not to. But we have added shows. Given how quickly it sold out last year, I imagine even with three extra shows it will sell out this year,' says Provan.
The cast of comedians, she adds, is completely new, and although they are well known in Australia all are making their Hong Kong debuts. 'This year at the festival we had a tie for best newcomer, so both best newcomers are coming - Ronny Chieng and Matt Okine. We're really proud to be able to present both of them on the bill,' Provan says. 'We have Damian Callinan, who does more character-based comedy, and works a lot in TV. We've Denise Scott who is one of Australia's most high-profile lady comedians. She does a lot of marvellous material about relationships and families.'
Scott, 57, has been performing at the Melbourne festival for 20 years. 'I was 34 and I had two children. I had friends who were doing stand-up comedy, and I just thought I'd give it a go,' she says.
Scott agrees with Provan that the Hong Kong bill, which also includes puppeteer Heath McIvor with his most famous creation, the purple puppet Randy, should appeal to a broad range of tastes. 'Ronny Chieng is just riotous. There aren't that many comics here with his Chinese background, so his view of the world is quite unique. Randy is rude and adorable ... [and] Damian does fantastic character work.'
Fringe Club, tomorrow to July 22, 7.30pm. HK$250 Mon-Tue; HK$300 Wed, Thu, Sun; HK$350 Sat, Hong Kong Ticketing, tel: 3128 8288, www.hkticketing.com. Inquiries: 2521 7251