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Review: Sydney Comedy Festival Gala at the Sydney Opera House

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

By Sasha Meaney

To be in the biggest, fanciest venue Sydney has to offer with an impeccable line up of the funniest comedians this week was a treat in and of itself. For there to be minimal Trump jokes was the icing on the cake.

The Sydney Comedy Festival Gala launched the comedy festival season at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday evening to a packed and enthusiastic audience. Halfway into the second act I was in a serious amount of pain. I had to force myself to keep a straight face between sets because my cheek bones were on fire. So go for the jokes, which will have you rolling in the aisles, and reap the benefits of a free face lift.

The much-loved Joel Lycett kicked off the proceedings with easy charm and low stakes audience participation. His well picked and good humoured jibes at the front row were quick and with love. He’s light on his feet and was our favourite kind of host - your drinking buddy at the pub sharply and dramatically narrating all the room’s going ons. Lycett’s sense of play seems to even surprise and bemuse himself, as he orchestrates crowd responses with raises of his arms and kicks of his legs performing quite the little contemporary dance at center stage.

The five-minute sets that followed were, without fault, hilarious. The comedians ranged from South Americans, to local ABC favorites and included many across the pond Brits. The benefit of the gala is that there will be someone there for everyone.

We started our night with Ivan Aristeguieta who enlightened us on how Aussie language is designed to stuff everyone over, even the English speakers. The ensuing line up covered such a range of topics, truly doing justice to the cliché.

We laughed at relatable every-day family dramas with cheeky Georgie Carroll, posh boyfriends and hecklers with Lauren Pattison and relationship jealousies with Larry Dean who was bouncing of the ceilings.

But the relatable also made room for the truly absurd. Mark Forward did not just act, but with his shoulder slung backpack BECAME the most annoying little brother, minutely dissecting his own jokes with a wicked gleam in his eye. And closing the night was an incredible seal impression by Phill Jupitus that would have had Attenborough running to the Opera Bar for a gin and tonic.

The political humour that was present never went for the easy America joke. Fern Brady, introduced us all to Ireland’s DUP and the spicy online war she started with both them and her management, and Jamali Maddix gave us the loudest, most fun dissection of race to be seen at the Opera House. Local vendettas were aired by The Chaser’s, who still manage to be original amongst the absolute farce of Australian politics, and then by a more recent shining star Tom Ballard who’s set is truly professional, but shows that the mainstream will never get a hold of his insurgent streak.

They all deserve a mention, so the line-up is below and a link to their shows. But before I do please allow a brief moment of sentimentality. There is nothing more affirming than laughing with a room full of strangers. It feels genuinely hopeful that we all still have shared human experiences like a nosy next-door neighbour to poke fun at, when the world’s chaos feels ready to divide us at any given chance.

Go to the festival, grab a drink and enjoy yourselves! It’s a night of pure fun - nothing’s off limits and everyone’s up for a laugh.

The Chaser: War on the F*#cking Election 2019 | Tickets here.

Ivan Aristeguieta: The Fourth Floor | Tickets here

Lauren Pattison: Peachy | Tickets here

Sean McLoughlin: Hail Mary | Tickets here

Daniel Sloss: X |

Jamali Maddix: Vape Lord | Tickets here

Mark Forward: Wins All The Awards |

Tahir: You Had One Job | Tickets here

Fern Brady: Power and Chaos | Tickets here

Joy Lycett: I’m About to Lose Control and I Think Joe Lycett |

Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang | Tickets here

Tom Allen: Absolutely | Tickets here

Georgie Carroll: Treat Yourself | Tickets here

Larry Dean: Bampot |

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack |

Tom Ballard: Enough | Tickets here

Photo Credit: Ben Sanford

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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