There aren’t many places outside of the capitals where you can see top-line international comedy acts - and there are even fewer regional comedy festivals.
That’s why it’s quite some achievement that The Big Joke has reached its third successful year. Founded by local identities Georgina and Jay Allison, this year the festival has roped in another local, Mandy Nolan, as director.
Bangalow is a town that prides itself on doing things well, whether it’s coffee, cuisine or antique rugs. And it’s certainly pulled out all the stops for this year’s festival, with big-name acts including Tim Minchin, Arj Barker and Nina Conti. All three will appear at the bumper Melbourne Comedy Festival a week after they hit Bangalow.
Not content with netting these three icons of comedy, the festival extends to a four-day line-up with local and national acts including Kitty Flanagan (The Micallef Show), Dave Williams (Rove Live), Green Room award winner Geraldine Quinn, plus Christine Basil, Hannah Gadsby, Bart Freebairn, Mandy Nolan, Ellen Briggs, Brendan Lovechild and Nick Penn.
The shows all run at Bangalow’s A&I Hall, a relatively intimate auditorium that’s a million miles from some of the huge halls at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. And best of all, they all run in separate time-slots, so you don’t have to miss one in order to catch another.
The main events
Tim Minchin: Ready for This?
Saturday March 28
Bangalow A&I Hall, 8pm
Aussie-born Minchin has been standing up and making jokes for the best part of a decade.
He first made headlines with his show The Dark Side at Melbourne Comedy Festival in ’05, going on to win the prestigious Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Minchin had a six-week run in New York last year at New World Stages.
Friday March, 27
Bangalow A&I Hall, 8pm
You may remember Arj Barker as Dave in Flight of the Conchords. He’s been doing TV comedy since ’97 and has appeared in Australia on The Glasshouse and Thank God You’re Here.
His off-the-wall humour includes a fake band called The Sanchez Bros and a bizarre online multimedia series featuring a farting cat called Poopy.
Monkey Business: Featuring Nina Conti, Kitty Flanagan, Dave Williams & MC Mandy Nolan
Thursday March 26
8pm Bangalow A&I Hall - Festival Bar
Conti has probably snuck into your lounge room via the TV series Black Books.
She was at the top of festival director Mandy Nolan’s wish list after her performance at last year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival left Nolan “blown away”.
Conti’s shows involve a ventriloquist’s monkey with a bad case of tourette’s.
She won BBC New comedy award in 2002 and the Barry award for best in show at last year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival.
All tickets for major shows are $47.50 each and are available at Jetset Byron bay. Phone: (02) 66856262 or email email@example.com. Tickets will be available at the door if not sold out.
Cracked Eggs Comedy Breakfast
Saturday March 29
Features Hannah Gadsby, Christine Basil, Geraldine Quinn and MC Mandy Nolan
10am Bangalow A&I Hall
Sunday March 29
$39.90 with breakfast (food from 9am)
This early-morning heart-starter has an all-female line-up, including “the best women comics in the country”, according to Nolan. The challenge will be to see if you can eat your breakfast without choking as you laugh.
The Village Idiot
Bangalow A&I Hall
Heat 1: 6pm, Friday March 27
Heat 2: 11am, Saturday March 28
Heat 3: 5pm, Saturday March 28
Heat 4: 12pm, Sunday March 29
Grand Final: 3pm, Sunday March 29
Heats free. Grand final $15.
What would a comedy festival be without a talent competition? There are four heats for would-be stand-up comics, with two entrants from each heat selected to go through to the final. The grand tussle for the $500 prize money will also be the closing event of the festival.
Tickets for both special events are available at The Urban 37 Byron St, Bangalow. Phone: (02) 6687 2678 Tickets will be available at the door if not sold out.
Saturday 28 March 3pm, Bangalow A&I Hall $40 family, $15 adult, $10 kids. Under five is free.
This show for kids by kids is the outcome of a series of workshops currently underway. Local kids, working with festival director Mandy Nolan will each present a stand-up show of their own.
The intention is to teach kids resilience and to learn to laugh at the world around them. But you’re advised to expect the unexpected when children take to the stage.
Tickets at the door or presale at The Urban, ph (02) 66872678.
Cartooning Workshop for Kids
Bangalow RSL Hall
Date to be advised 12pm - 2pm.
Tickets: $15 at The Urban, Bangalow. 66872678
Kids are naturally great cartoonists. And who better to draw out their hidden talents than Brendan Lovechild, who apart from anything else has the perfect name for the gig. Lovechild has a well reviewed book of more than 1000 cartoons under his belt, too, so he knows what he’s talking about. Brendan ran a very successful workshop at last year’s festival, and you can see the results here.
Official Big Joke website
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