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Review: Sydney Comedy Festival Gala at the State Theatre

By Rosie Niven

The Sydney Comedy Festival is finally back - and it feels so good to laugh again.

After a forced intermission in 2020, the beloved festival has returned to Sydney, featuring nearly 200 comedy acts across the city. Marking its return over three nights in Parramatta, Newtown, Chatswood, and the CBD, the Sydney Comedy Festival Gala delivers a feast of talent and piques your interest for the month to come.

Kicking off the festivities is the first night of the Gala, held at the State Theatre with an exciting lineup of both fresh and seasoned talent. With a mix of Australian and International comedians, the Sydney Comedy Festival Gala offers a tasting plate of some of the best comedians that are on offer during the festival. Hosted by the loveable puppet Randy, the night featured the following comedic delights: Melanie Bracewell, David Quirk, Chris Ryan, Steen Raskopoulos, Carl Donnelly, Bonnie Tangey, Ivan Aristeguieta, the cast of the Schapelle, Schapelle musical, John Cruckshank, Cassie Workman, Luke Heggie, Geraldine Hickey, Harley Breen and Jimeoin.

While a strong night overall, there were some brilliant standouts. Steen Raskopoulos hilarious song about being left at a Coles checkout by your Mum reminded us all of that terrifying moment when Mum says she “just forgot one thing” and leaves you at the checkout on your own for what feels like years. Geraldine Hickey had the audience rolling as she described in painfully descriptive detail what it would be like if a huntsman spider fell on your mons (remind me to never say yes to naked limbo), and Jimeoin serenaded us with songs about sex and love (mostly sex) that had us jumping from delight to disgust in less than a line. John Cruckshank… I can’t really explain to you why he’s so incredibly funny, but his rough Aussie humour and casual delivery won the audience over completely. But the greatest standout of all was our incredible host for the evening, Randy. Never a dull moment when he was on stage, he ripped into audience members with glee, riffing comfortably and breaking the illusion every chance he got (“I can’t read this - my eyes aren’t real!”). Randy was the true star of this talented show.

The only challenge faced in this night of laughs was the sound levelling. Set for the stand up sets, when the cast of Schapelle, Schapelle took to the stage to share a song from their popular musical, much of their dialogue was missed as the performers fought to be heard against the booming backing track. Having heard so many positives about this show from previous seasons, this was a real shame.

I can’t recommend the Gala itself as it was for one-night only (sorry), but if this lineup was anything to go by, the 2021 Sydney Comedy Festival is going to be an absolute delight.

Want to check out any of the artists mentioned above? Read below to find out where they’re performing at SCF:

David Quirk: Astonishing Obscurity

Steen Raskopoulos: Business. Never. Stops.

Bonnie Tangey: Yuck

Ivan Aristeguieta: Piñata

John Cruckshank: Sometimes The Jokes You

Luke Heggie: Lowbreed

Geraldine Hickey: What a Surprise

Harley Breen: Only Words

Jimeoin: Turn It Up!

Photo Credit: Ben Sanford


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