Putting ‘Canberra’ in the Canberra Comedy Festival

by Chris Marlton

BMA’s LOLCol-ster, and renowned stand-up in his own right, Chris Marlton gives us a guided tour of the local comics featuring at this year’s Canberra Comedy Festival.

The Canberra Comedy Festival’s annual smorgasbord of comedy is back this March with international stars Larry Dean, Mark Watson, Daniel Sloss, and Josie Long, and Australian comedy legends Dave Hughes, Sam Campbell, Melanie Bracewell, and Wil Anderson to name but a mere few. 

But the Canberra Comedy Festival is not just about bringing the biggest names in comedy to town. There has always been a grass-roots side to the locally-curated festival. The CCF continues to develop local comedians, giving them an opportunity to perform and get a further taste of the professional stage. 

2023 is no exception, with a raft of locally-brewed content from Canberra’s top comedians. Here are a few local shows you should definitely check out:

Sparrow Folk – Late Night Nesting

Multi-award winning comedy duo Catherine Crowley and Juliet Moody are back at the festival with a late-night comedy talk show of fun musical comedy games with special guests Rob Carlton, Ned and Josh from 104.7, and more. Sparrow Folk are a Canberra comedy institution who have toured the nation over the years.

You can catch them at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre on Saturday, 18 March at 9:30pm.

Jeremy Smith and Marky Worthington –
Consistently Different

Marky Worthington and Jeremy Smith combine for a split-bill hour of comedy that guarantees value and variety with their contrasting styles. Marky has been refining his observational humour, along with his colourfully abrupt and funny storytelling, across many years. 

Jeremy Smith brings a different energy to the stage. As a father, husband, ex-military turned office worker, his observations and stories are clever and insightful. 

Consistently Different is on at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre on Wednesday, 22 March at 7pm.

Sarah Ison and Laura Johnston – Would We Lie to You?

Sara and Laura are both explosive, creative, and energetic comedians, bringing a brand new sketch comedy experience. Sarah has gone from strength to strength on the local scene, with charismatic crowd work and physical performances that both engage and entertain. 

Laura Johnson is new to the Canberra comedy scene, but is a veteran of sketch-comedy, recently writing and directing the 2022 ANU Law Revue. Her musical comedy, compelling presence, and timing are not to be missed. 

Get your tickets to this show quick, Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre on Sunday, 19 March at 8:30pm.

Jeffrey Charles and Suma Iyer – United Colours of Basic

While their lives may be different versions of ‘basic,’ Jeff and Suma’s brands of comedy are anything but. Jeffrey Charles delivers autobiographical, emotional musical comedy that is always funny and surprising. From composting, to boys’ nights out, to societal observations, no stone in Jeff’s life is left unturned. 

Suma Iyer is one of the brightest new comics around, not just in Canberra, but across Australia. Suma is as clever and witty as any comedian you’ll see, with just the right amount of silliness thrown in for good measure. 

Don’t miss the show: Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre on Thursday 16 March at 7pm.

ANU Law Revue – We’re a Comedy Sketch Show!

Year after year, the ANU Law Revue delivers high quality sketch comedy from energetic, hard-working ANU students who juggle their studies and their comedy writing/performing to perfection. 

This year, the Law Revue joins the Canberra Comedy Festival and you’ll have a chance to see the best and brightest young sketch comedy stars before they become famous, as they wow you with their innovative and laugh-out-loud takes on life. 

You can catch these clever young entertainers at the Drama Theatre, Kambri Cultural Centre at the Australian National University on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th of March at 9:45pm.

Taylor Coughtrie and Sam Silla – Opposite of Adults

Born in Britain, based in Canberra, brand-new dad Sam Silla is a comic on the rise with a life full of funny situations which become funnier in the telling. 

Meanwhile, true comedy talent Taylor Coughtrie has just moved away from Canberra to chase his dream as a comedian on the national stage. This is a split-bill stand-up comedy show about big transitions in life, packed with astute observations and big laughs all the way through. 

See these guys before their big breaks at 6:30pm on Saturday, 18 March at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre.

Tom Gibson, Emo Parsonson and Hamish Hudson –
Does This Look Right to You?

A three-man line-up show that wouldn’t be out of place at any worldly comedy festival. Tom, Emo, and Hamish have seen it all, and have the comedy skills to keep you laughing the whole show through. 

Tom Gibson’s observational comedy is elite, combined with sharp crowd-work, clever anecdotes, and extrapolations galore. 

Emo Parsonson’s stories and reflections, from life on the farm to raising teenagers, will have you enthralled. 

And Hamish Hudson is, simply put, one of the best musical comedians in the country. 

These three experienced comedians are teaming up this comedy festival for a comedy extravaganza at the Manning Clark Hall, Kambri Cultural Centre at the Australian National University, on Saturday, 25 March at 8:30pm.

For more info and tickets head to canberracomedyfestival.com.au

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