Headliners at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival is a glorious comic grab-bag of North American talent. The first cast (Ryan Hamilton, Emily Eller, Liza Treyger and Jak Knight) is playing until the 9th of April and is well worth the risk of crowd interaction (my advice: don’t wear anything conspicuous. And if you’re a man, definitely not a scarf).
The show opened with Ryan Hamilton, a New York-based, Idaho-raised cross between Jerry Seinfeld and a cherub. Charming, self-deprecating and a little bit daggy, Hamilton’s entirely clean comedy is a refreshing change from the norm. He doesn’t even get angry. An observational comic, Hamilton riffs on everything from his appearance to being the sober friend to hot air ballooning. And while it might not be risqué, it’s funny as hell. It’s not until the end of his performance that the audience realises he hasn’t dropped an f-bomb.
Next up, Emily Heller took the audience in a whole new direction with a bit of confessional comedy. Heller has previously appeared on Late Night with Seth Myers, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and Inside Amy Schumer. Striking a balance between confession, self-deprecation and silliness, Heller’s performance is honest, raw and utterly hilarious. Her feminist sensibilities take centre stage as she wryly notices the difference between living with a dick and living without one.
Liza Treyger takes this further still. Loud, foul-mouthed and bawdy, Liz takes candour to a new level as she jokes about men with small dicks, porn, getting cum in your eye and even, yes, the holocaust. She has appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers, @Midnight and Chelsea Lately. Her fiercely feminist set takes much from the conversations girls have amongst themselves (the kind men don’t want to know we have) and is proffered to the audience with a ‘fuck you if you don’t like it’ attitude. Men, in particular, beware – she’s coming for you.
Finally, Jak Knight stumbles on stage to close off the evening. He’s been drinking, he confesses, before apologising and telling the reviewers in the audience to ‘suck my dick’. He’s performed with Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Dave Chapelle in the past, so his confidence is well-placed. Cheeky and charming, Knight ‘s comedy has a class-clown quality: laidback delivery, excellent timing and don’t-care-if-you-don’t-like-me attitude. He muses on everything from pop culture to race to politics; his mother’s genitals to Hillary Clinton.
The second Headliners cast is Fortune Feimster, Janelle James, Jo DeRosa and Orlando Baxter. They will be performing from the 11th to the 23rd of April.