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Two years of Covid misery but the fun is just about to begin

Culture

More than 100 acts from around the country and overseas will bring much needed post-lockdown laughs to town for the Brisbane Comedy Festival, kicking off on April 29.

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In what’s the biggest program ever for the comedy festival, more than 350 shows will roll through Brisbane over five weeks.

Acts include Malaysia’s favourite doctor turned funnyman Jason Leong, Irish comedy crooner David O’Doherty and standup comedian podcast host Gareth Reynolds.

New to this year’s program is a focus on First Nations comedians, highlighting both well-known and emerging Indigenous comics such as Steven Choolburra, Kevin Kropinyeri, Andy Saunders and Steph Tisdell, performing as the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars at Brisbane Powerhouse on May 8 as well as solo and ensemble shows.

Also back are crowd favourites Wil Anderson, touring two shows including his first new standup show in three year “Wilogical”, TV and radio funnyman Dave Hughes, Australia’s favourite comedic import Ross Noble and Harley Breen, host of Network 10’s Taboo and Making It.

For those looking for a particular Brisbane bent to their laughs, Brisburned are ready to roll.

Mark Lombard is proud to bring back Brisburned for another poke at Brisbane foibles, after sold out seasons at the comedy festival for the past four years running.

“I created this about five years ago now and was really trying to tap into that vibe – I could really sense that people were exhibiting a bit more pride in the city whereas previously there was this mass exodus of young people going to London or Sydney or Melbourne,” Lombard said.

“People actually seemed more happy to hang around despite all of Brisbane’s foibles and drawbacks. So I thought that was a pretty good conflict, a pretty good premise for comedy.

“The way I think about it is we all know Brisbane is a bit shit but only we are allowed to say so. If someone from Sydney had a go we’d get all defensive.”

Lombard thinks there’s another layer to the show and to comedy in particular – how it tracks the history and evolution of a place that is quickly changing. He said the importance of capturing that can’t be underestimated – especially in the lead-up to Brisbane hosting the Olympics.

“The city is growing and changing and comedy is at the forefront of that I think. Following that journey is going to be a hilarious roller coaster ride,” Lombard said.

Fellow Brisburned performer Liz Talbot said she gets the most joy from digging into Brisbane peculiarities.

“It’s the emergence from the dorkiness to the coolness, whilst we’re making fun of it we’re also acknowledging that Brisbane is getting so much cooler. And we liked Brisbane before it was cool,” Talbot said.

“It’s so fun when you get a big act come through and deliver their material – but when you have a local act that only you through your lived experience can get because you’ve driven on our roads or dealt with our private school Mums, it makes people that little bit warmer.

“And if you haven’t already met these characters then this is your introduction to them. Things like Brisbane drivers.”

Comedian Mel Buttle is also looking forward to mining the love hate relationship that many Brisbane residents have with their home town in her festival shows.

“I don’t mention Covid whereas some comedians go opposite and dig deep like Melbourne comedians who do ten minutes on it.

“I don’t do politics or not too many controversial things.

“I’ve stopped caring – this voice in my head has gone `if you’re not going to tell the person in Subway that you didn’t actually ask for cucumber now what are you waiting for – your next big birthday?’

“I usually have amazing shows here because I think we’re all on the same page – Brisbane people always come out to laugh whereas in other states I think they come out for other things like an experience, or to drink alcohol, whereas here it’s like `we paid our money, we got a park, let’s have a laugh’.”

Her other top tip is fellow Brisbane performer Damien Power “who just makes you see the world from a different point of view”.

Brisbane Comedy Festival director Phoebe Meredith says this is the largest local lineup of acts with a mix of popular household names and emerging comedic talent.

“Brisbane audiences are always up for a laugh and this year’s stacked program of everything from stand-up to improv to sketch comedy is guaranteed to bring the LOLs as well as introduce plenty of firsts: Festival first-timers, our first-ever musical and a First Nations- focused week.”

The Brisbane Comedy Festival Opening Gala gets the giggles going on April 29 with a freshly picked assortment of Australia’s best comedians at The Fortitude Music Hall, hosted by Nick Cody.

After a sell-out Sydney season, Schapelle, Schapelle – The Musical makes its Brisbane Comedy Festival debut at Brisbane Powerhouse from May 24 to June 5, with a fast-paced take on Australia’s weakness for media sensationalism as seen through the life and times of Schapelle Corby.

Rounding out the diverse line-up of festival program are the Multicultural Comedy Gala on 28 May, and Queerstories on May 29.

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