Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
An inclusive celebration of women in comedy
The Breast of the Fest is a showcase-style comedy event at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, running every night (except Wednesdays) at Trades Hall from 27 March - 21 April 2019. The show features an inclusive, rotating cast of female-identifying comedians and guests, including regular performers Aurelia St Clair, Avery Hutley, Bella Green, Claire Hagan, Katherine Allan and Rose Bishop. "Guest breasts" over the course of the festival have included Steph Tisdell, Geraldine Hickey, Celia Pacquola, Emma Holland, Kirsty Webeck, Cindy Salmon, Nina Oyama, Alex Ward, Emily Tresidder, Rose Callaghan, Eleanor Tiernan, Bec Melrose, Lizzy Hoo, Eve Ellenbogen, Nikki Viveca, and Anna Piper Scott, among others.
This show is a warm, progressive and proud celebration of feminism, female identity and diversity in public spaces. The venue is fairly intimate and has a very basic stage and lighting set up, and the performers take turns performing uncomplicated stand-up sets. This gives the show a relaxed and informal feel, which is perfectly suited to the type of content that most of these comedians bring to their sets. Gender, sexuality, mental health, and privilege are recurring themes, but every comedian comes at these (and other) themes from unique angles and in their very original styles. The show feels very much like a chilled out conversation about things that haven't traditionally been typical dinner party topics but are finally starting to be normalised and embraced (as they should).
The night I attended, there were a few segments I particularly enjoyed. Rose Bishop's clever and cheeky jokes delivered in her characteristic understated and matter-of-fact manner were one highlight. Aurelia St Clair's quietly sassy yet gorgeously confident segment was another. Claire Hagan had me at her love for dogs. But my absolute favourite segment was Avery Hutley's, who used a very clever mix of different comedic styles (particularly personal storytelling and observational humour) to talk about some pretty intense experiences in a non-heavy, enjoyable way.
There's a lot of great talent that has performed and continues to perform in this show, both in terms of regular cast and guest cast, and several of these performers also have (or had) their own solo or group shows at the Comedy Festival. If you enjoy progressive, inclusive, female-celebrating stand up comedy in a pretty chill, intimate setting, The Breast of the Fest is definitely a show worth checking out.