Features/What to SEE/Comedy

Have the last laugh

20 April 2023

Need a laugh? Perth Comedy Festival is back with a host of stars, established and rising, to lighten the mood. Julie Hosking takes a look at the line-up. 

Laughter really is good for our health, reducing stress and boosting our immune system.

If life’s been short on laughs lately, the Perth Comedy Festival could be just what the doctor ordered, even if a session does leave you with an aching jaw and a sore belly.

More than 50 comedians from near and far, including Stephen K Amos, Danny Bhoy, Kirsty Webeck and Bob Downe, will be working hard across a range of venues to induce those pleasurable aches. 

Unsurprisingly, what makes us laugh varies as widely as our choice in music, film … just about anything really. Some people love the more physical, slapstick approach, others lean toward storytellers who weave a narrative around a hefty dose of humour. I favour comedians who make us laugh at ourselves and embrace the absurdity of humanity, though I love a bit of total nonsense, too. 

If you’re a bit of a licorice allsorts kind of comedy lover, then we suggest heading to the Perth Comedy Festival Gala, where a host of performers will take the stage. It’s being held on three consecutive Wednesdays from 3 May. Similarly, the Perth Festival Comedy Showcase will bring the best of the festival to Freo Social over three consecutive Thursdays from 4 May. There’s also the Biggest Comedy Show on Earth – yes, it’s a big claim – at Planet Royale on 4-6 May. 

Whatever kind of stand-up makes you double over with laughter, there’s bound to be something for you. Here’s some that tickled my fancy. (And keep an eye out for others we’ll review over the season.) 

30 April @ Astor Theatre

Kumar is calling time on some of her classic jokes, so if you want to see the multi-talented artist perform them live – as opposed to YouTube, where they regularly clock up more than a million views – you best get cracking.  Aside from revisiting stories such as Auntie vs Uncle’s Sausage and Q-mar’s Spaghetti on this greatest hits tour, Singapore’s celebrated drag queen promises new material, all poking fun at the everyday in a way that transcends age, gender and race. 

Andrew Hansen is Cheap
5 May @ Planet Royale

Andrew Hansen is cheap, so cheap he won’t even stump for a real guitar. He’s also funny. If you’re a fan of The Chaser – Hansen describes himself on his social media as “the good one from The Chaser” — you’ll agree. As the satirical gang created all kinds of controversy, annoying politicians and other household names almost daily, Hansen used his ability as a songwriter to skewer sacred cows. In this Adelaide Fringe-winning show, the comedian gives tips on how to be a cheapskate in an hour “of affordable musical numbers and reasonably priced sketches”. He’s also the author of a series of wonderfully silly children’s books but that’s another story. 

Villain, Brodi Snook 
5-6 May @ Regal Theatre 

This Busselton-raised comedian was making her mark overseas, winning plaudits at Edinburgh Fringe and before COVID sent her back to the family fold. Now based in the UK once more, Snook returns to her home state for Villain, a new show with a dark edge. Snook has been having some unsettling dreams. Should she be medicated or get a real job? Or just get a vibrator? No, Snook reckons she just needs to kill someone. How this all plays out should be fun to watch. 

A Night of Comedy, Emo Majok
6 May @ Regal Theatre

If ever there was proof of the healing power of laughter, Emo Majok is it. The Sudanese comedian came to Perth as a refugee from war-torn Ethiopia, not really traditional fodder for a night of guffawing. But as he told Seesaw ahead of his 2021 Fringe World show Black Santa, the adjustment and cultural conundrums that move brought with it provide a rich vein of side-splitting stories. Having followed up gigs in his home town with performances at Edinburgh Fringe and more recently at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival, Majok may have fallen into comedy but he’s really found his feet.

We Got This, Dylan Moran 
8-9 May @ Perth Concert Hall 

The multi-awardwinning Irishman is probably most widely known as the permanently scowling bookshop owner from TV series Black Books, which he co-created and co-wrote. He’s also a very funny stand-up comedian. We Got This sees Moran in familiar territory, making merry out of the banal, asking important questions such as “why do you always do stuff like that?” and teaching you how to make breakfast without even being aware you’ve left the bedroom. His two gigs are bound to be big attractions. 

Save the Orangutans, Emma Holland 
12 May @ Astor Theatre 

“I grew up in Indonesia and have made it my whole personality. This is a show about that.” So says Emma Holland’s blurb on the festival page. Of course, a little digging reveals there’s a lot more to the comedian who is now based in Brisbane (“it’s warm and I have brittle bones”). She’s also a photographer and collage artist and a writer whose credits include panel show Have You Been Paying Attention (where she’s also popped up as a panelist) and The Cheap Seats. Holland has a lovely dry delivery and is not afraid to take the mickey out of herself, both winning attributes for me. 

Young, Dumb & Full of Mum,
Rose Callaghan 
20 May @ the Rechabite 

For those of us who had our kids back in the dark ages, Rose Callaghan’s discovery that the old-school perceptions of motherhood aren’t that old school might illicit as much sympathy as laughter. The Sydney Fringe best comedy winner got pregnant “in a truly inspiring world first” during lockdown and quickly learned that a new baby wasn’t the only challenge ahead. Could the answers to her new life lie in her mum’s 1985 VHS? I really want to know.

Perth Comedy Festival is at various venues, 24 April to 21 May 2003, see the full lineup here.

Pictured top: Kirsty Webeck is one of the drawcards at this year’s Perth Comedy Festival.

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Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

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