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Published March 18th 2018
The Best Things in Life are Funny
Will you be willing to will yourself to see Wil Anderson? (by Melbourne Comedy Festival 2017)
Melbourne's International Comedy Festival returns in 2018 from 28 March to 22 April, letting over 350 local and international comedians run wild in Australia's comedy capital with a bag full of the world's funniest gags, with a bonus smattering of Trump jokes. Start your laughfest with this list of best shows in the festival.
Wil Anderson – 28 Mar - 22 Apr at the Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St
Although he enjoys turning the ABC blowtorch onto the soft bellies of our pollies and our advertisers with Gruen, Wil Anderson relishes the live laughter on-stage at his stand-up shows throughout Australia.
After Critically Wil in 2017, he's back with Willegal, another amusingly misspelt comedy routine, based on his own brush with the law at Wagga Wagga police station.
Stephen K Amos – 28 Mar - 22 Apr at the Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St
When you're touring the global comedy circuit with Stephen K Amos, people feel the urge to boldly say the most ridiculous things to your face.
After exploiting his Euro-friendly passport before Brexit really meant Brexit, he's heard the funniest things from the Swiss, Austrians, Danish, Spanish, and even the Germans.
Find out what they said in his only show of the festival, with seats starting at $42.50. And be sure to find out what the K stands for. Book online from $36 at Ticketmaster.
Nazeem Hussain – 29 Mar - 22 Apr at the Forum Theatre, Cnr Flinders & Russell Sts
When he was only 6, Nazeem was already making jokes, when Jana Wendt, the former A Current Affair host, interviewed his dad during the Iraq War because his name was S. Hussain.
He's became a regular on the comedy circuit when Allah made him funny in 2006 on the Muslim Comedy Tour, starred in Balls of Steel Australia as the Very Foreign Correspondent and sold out theatres with his Fear of a Brown Planet stage show.
He's taking a break from being Waleed Aly to perform in his latest show, No Pain No Hussain.
To catch Nazeem's topical brand of non-PC comedy, book online from $30 at Ticketmaster.
Doug Anthony Allstars (by Melbourne Comedy Festival 2017)
Matt Okine – 29 Mar - 22 Apr in the Supper Room of Melb Town Hall, Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts
Still a relative youngster on the Aussie comedy scene, Matt Okine has scooped up a swag of awards, including a Director's Choice at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and an ARIA for his comedy release, Matt Okine Live at The Enmore Theatre.
He's written and starred in a TV comedy, The Other Guy, and he's still waking before the sun rises to pop up for random appearances on the morning show on Triple J.
Doug Anthony Allstars – 3 Apr - 8 Apr at the Coopers Malthouse on 113 Sturt St, Southbank
DAAS is the best value in the festival, where you'll see the best beard, best wheelchair and best creepy comedian.
Even if you're not old enough to remember their shockingly funny ABC show in the 80s, you'll be shocked by antics more shocking than anything on the Internet (well, almost anything).
After multiple sclerosis pushed Tim Ferguson into a wheelchair and Paul McDermott refused to use his stockpile of Just for Men hair dye, they've dragged Flaco from his transcendental meditation in the bowels of Crown Casino to feature in their swansong. After filling theatres in London and Edinburgh, rejoice - DAAS is back Down Under.
Damien Power – 29 Mar - 22 Apr at the ACMI in Federation Square and the Parthenon (not the ancient Athenian temple but the modern equivalent in Melbourne on Cnr Lonsdale & Russell Sts)
Damien's new show is promoted as violent chaos. In his promo shot, he's wearing a Chicago Cubs jacket. This should hint that you'll be safe from random violence, but with Bill Murray as the Cub's #1 fan, you'll need to be ready for chaos.
Bring your catcher's mitt to grab the punchlines during an hour of everyday philosophy worthy of a smile from Socrates. Book online from $24 at Comedy Festival.
Cal Wilson – 29 Mar - 22 Apr in the Banquet Room of the Victoria Hotel on 215 Lt Collins St
The ubiquitous scene stealer of ad-lib comedy and improv TV, including thigh-slapping hilarity on Have You Been Paying Attention? And Whose Line is it Anyway?Cal Wilson suddenly turns nasty to battle the big guns – politics, feminism and brown shoes.
Bob Franklin – 29 Mar - 22 Apr in the Regent Room of Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr. Swanston & Collins St
Looking more dishevelled with the passing years, Bob's becoming more self-deprecating too.
After warning audiences at last year's festival that "An Hour's Too Long for Stand-Up" and "You will be shortchanged", his therapist seems determined to plunge him to despair, with his new show titled "Yours sincerely", with the tagline, "Comedian. Actor. Author. Sociopath?".
Is this how he wants to be immortalised on Wikipedia? Help Bob wipe away the tears of a clown, transforming him from sociopath into socialite.
Arj Barker – 29 Mar - 22 Apr in the Main Hall of Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr. Swanston & Collins St
Arj went free-range last year and his detox led to an intellectual awakening. After 12 months of double doses of smart drugs, he's emerged from his chamber of solitude with the answers to IT (not info tech, but IT - the big answer to it all).
But just like a lost hitchhiker, once he found the answer, he lost track of the question. Join him for a brain-bursting night of philosophising where the meaning of life may* be tucked amongst an hour of standup.
**no refunds if the ultimate Q&A to the universe isn't to your liking.