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Sydney's International Comedy Festival returns for its lucky 13th year from 24 April to 21 May, immediately after the Melbourne edition. Over 300 comedians will compete for giggles with everything from stand-up and sketches to puppetry, clowns, music and the odd bit of slapstick. Fortunately, 45 international acts have passed the extreme vetting at our borders with jokes from the USA, Britain, Canada and even a few surprise acts from China and Germany. Start your chortling with these top 10 shows of the festival.
Daniel Sloss – 6 May at the Enmore Theatre, 132 Enmore Road, Newtown
He might have a disturbing obsession with the quirkiest mating methods in the animal kingdom, but this canny Scotsman was named the best international act of our 2016 Festival. Daniel Sloss returns for a single show at the SCF after 6 appearances on Conan, his DARK tours of Australia, New Zealand and Edinburgh selling out and a fact finding mission at Taronga Zoo. What will he discover about koalas? Book online from $34.90 at Ticketetek.
Steve Hughes – 5 May at the Enmore Theatre, 132 Enmore Road, Newtown
Not to be confused with Dave Hughes (he hates that), Steve Hughes channels our frustration at all our first world problems in a 60 minute therapy session. While you can't claim the ticket price on Medicare, you can find relief from living beneath a flight path, noisy neighbours, parking rangers, inane regulations and the conspiracy of overpriced veges causing more shootings as capsicum spray is too pricey to waste. Book online from $39.90 at Ticketetek.
Susie Youssef – 10 to 14 May at the Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville
Behave Youssef as Susie experiences the funny but slightly frightening side of first dates in her fourth year at the SCF after speaking to camera on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and No Activity. Despite appearing to be the most nervous comedian at the show, don't hold in the laughter, it's supposedly the best medicine (although it could be the laughing gas in the air-con). Book online from $25 at Ticketetek.
Frocking Hilarious – 19 May at the Sydney Town Hall at 483 George St
Cal Wilson – 13 May at the The Comedy Store, The Entertainment Quarter, Building 207, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park
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. Book online from $35 at Ticketetek.
Matt Okine – 13 May at the Enmore Theatre, 132 Enmore Road, Newtown
In Matt's new show, We Made You, he weaves a new tale of his origins, likely culminating in another accolade after scoring 'best of' prizes in comedy festivals throughout the world, skipping sleep to host morning radio and boosting ratings on SBS with football/soccer tomfoolery. Book online from $35 at Ticketetek.
Stephen K Amos – 28 Apr at the Concourse, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood and 29, 30 Apr at the Enmore Theatre, 132 Enmore Road, Newtown
Cure your fear of stage fright with Stephen's talk show where the special guests are members of the audience. Grab the best seat in the house - the on-stage couch, for a chat with Stephen, a bit of music and the earth shattering answer to the big question - what does the K stand for? Book online from $46.90 at Ticketetek.
Damien Power – 12 May at the Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street, Redfern
Damien's new show is promoted as 3D. If you chuckled at his 2-dimensional comedy or reacted with a sneaky smile during his earliest 1 dimensional sight gags, imagine how funny he'll be in 3D? If one of Sydney's tech whiz kids enjoys the show, they could help him with a 4D act next year, bending the laws of space and time in the search of the perfect punchline. Book online from $29 at Ticketetek.
Arj Barker – 12 May at the Concourse, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood and 13 May at the Enmore Theatre, 132 Enmore Road, Newtown
We're bombarded with fad diets, cooking shows, recipe books and superfoods. If you'd like a night of high sugar, salt, calorie and trans-fat entertainment, you'll be shocked to see Arj at his organic best. He's found free-range fun using pesticide-free ingredients, non-BPA plastics and gluten-free non-GMO carbohydrates. Join in the environmentally sustainable gags, booking online from $54.90 at Ticketetek.
Sydney Comedy Festival Showcase – each Thur, Fri and Sat during the festival at the Comedy Store, The Entertainment Quarter, Building 207, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park