Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
An entertaining showcase event featuring emerging comedians
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is Australia's biggest annual comedy event and is an excellent time not only to enjoy established local and international comedy acts, but also to discover hidden gems, emerging talent and perhaps even find some new favourites. The 5:30 Show, a quality stand-up comedy showcase event at this year's festival, ticked that box for me.
The show featured a rotating regular cast of Andrew Bensley, Frances McNair, Harris Stuckey, Maddy Weeks, Anthony Tomic, Danny Bensley and Steph Broadbridge, and also a number of different guest comedians each night. The night I attended, the regular performers were MC Andrew Bensley, Steph Broadbridge, guest performer Cat Finch, Anthony Tomic, Danny Bensley and guest performer Emma Holland, in that order. The show had a pleasant and relaxed vibe about it, and moved along well with all the segments being short, relatable and entertaining overall. Andrew Bensley did a fantastic job as MC, getting the audience in the zone with his very likeable persona and genuinely funny content.
Steph Broadbridge was easily the stand-out performance of the night with her sharp, mischievous and unpredictable humour and perfect comic timing. Her segment was flawless, with a strong opening and closing jokes, and with every punchline landing in between. She was one of my favourite discoveries of this festival, and is certainly a comedian to watch out for. I also enjoyed Emma Holland's quirky and obsessive style of comedy, which was particularly memorable for its obscure but funny repeating themes, in which I couldn't quite separate truth from fiction. Danny Bensley's segment was understated, sweet and relatable, and Anthony Tomic's segment, while slow in pace, had some solid punchlines.
The 5:30 Show was the perfect sort of show for anyone looking for a laid-back "surprise me" outing. With its line up of quality emerging comedians, early time slot (5:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30 pm Sunday), central location (Town Hall), and affordable ticket price ($16-$20), it was the sort of show that made the Comedy Festival accessible to audiences that weren't quite sure what they were looking for, and just wanted to have some laughs.