Either way, get yourselves over to the Exford Hotel where you can not only enjoy a beer at a normal(-ish) price (it is still Melbourne, after all…) but you’re guaranteed a bellyful of guffaws for at least an hour. Plus it’s on seven nights a week, so it even covers Monday withdrawal symptoms.
The 9.15pm timeslot at the Exford has the advantage of an audience that has probably had a drink or two already over the evening but, alcohol aside, it’s the big room fills easily, even mid-week.
MC Dan Willis is undeterred; he quickly lays the ground rules and puts the fear of Dan into would-be hecklers.
“If you’re going to heckle, make it gooood,” he growls, before sharing a couple of past favourites.
The IT guy-turned comic (his own show is Control-Alt-Delete at Sahara restaurant) exudes good-natured confidence as he warms up the room and the crowd is in good form by the time the first act is introduced.
The Best of British night guarantees at least three acts per night, but on the night we’re there are four on the bill: Geordie Kai Humphries, spiritualist Ian D. Montford, Gordon Southern and Scot Geoff Boyz.
They are all completely different – and all brilliant – although only two have their own shows at the MICF, which goes to show how much talent is floating around the city at the moment.
Skinny kid Kai touches on everything from the London underground to dwarves, tattoos and masturbation. Quite a lot of masturbation, as it turns out.
With an innocent air and disarming honesty, somehow he stops it from sounding smutty.
Next up is Ian D. Montford, a creation of Tom Binns, and I can safely say he is unlike any comic you have ever seen.
He is “The One: Britain’s Most Gifted Psychic”, according to his festival bumf. Smooth and caustic at the same time, Ian D. is a spiritualist medium – or is he just a fraud? Either way he juggles words as sharp as swords with the confidence of samurai: “I don’t want to say you’re in the top half of the class but you were certainly in the part that made that half possible – or even necessary,” he says with a killer smile. After getting a few audience members to fill in forms before the show, he manages to raise the roof evoking cleverly worded claims that are clearly claptrap – then confounds the room with an accurate ‘reading’. Spoof or true? Well, he’s definitely a true spoof.
If he gets sick of psychic tricks, he can always turn his hand to being a trick cyclist.
Then there’s Gordon Southern, whose show The Kerfuffle is on at the festival. His 2012 show A Brief History of History sold out and won him many plaudits, and Kerfuffle seems set to follow suit.
At the Exford he’s talking about a whole different range of things, from what he does and doesn’t like about Australia (“Let’s face it, Alice Springs is just a phone kiosk that got out of hand”) to career choices (“I’ve got a Catholic dad and Baptist mum, so I’m a… errr… comedian”).
Now spending at least two months a year in Australia, he even manages to find a link between the Lake Burley Griffin fountain and Craig Thompson.
Last but least is Scot Geoff Boyz, whose impression of Robert de Niro is a total facial transformation (there’s a version on YouTube if you want a sneak peek).
In fact he does some pretty awesome impersonations in general, the haughty tones of an airline pilot not being the least of them.
As with the rest of the night’s talent, he’s fast paced and very, very funny.
Overall it’s an excellent evening, whether it’s your sole focus for the night, an end-of-evening extra or the only show you see all festival.
The acts may change to protect the innocent, but the laughs remain the same.
The Exford Hotel & Dajam Productions
Best of British
MC Dan Willis
Venue: Exford Hotel | 199 Russell St, Melbourne
Dates: 27 Mar – 21 Apr, 2013
Tickets: $15 – $25
Bookings: 9663 2697 | tixnofee.com.au
Part of the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival