The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has a staggering 600-odd shows being performed during its season, so the choice of what show to see can be somewhat overwhelming as well as navigating around all the different venues around Melbourne. Fortunately, iconic Melbourne venue, The Butterfly Club has you covered, presenting 19 shows that spans a huge variety of comedy styles.
"I think it's very kind of you to infer we are any good at all, so thank you for the compliment," says The Butterfly Club director, Simone Pulga. "We received some 200 enquiries for this year's festival and reading through them was a reward in itself. The majority turned out to be remarkably well thought-out projects and when that happens, the job at hand is to focus on quality and variety: lots of different shows, all performed by people who know exactly what they're doing."
"When you have such a large amount of productions to choose from and many considerations to factor in, the clincher is usually what shows fit best within the entire programme," adds Xander Woollard, the venue's artistic director. "Which show compliments another and can an audience member curate their own programme in a night of entertainment at The Butterfly Club is a question I often ask myself. I try to imagine what I would go see if I were a stranger to the festival and wanted to taste a few different styles of comedy in one simple night at the club."
"In any theatre there's a risk that the people making decisions will be tempted to consider their taste as the "right" one. In the context of presenting hundreds of shows, succumbing to this temptation leads to very uniform, one-dimensional programs that only reflect the opinion of a minority, and eventually leave audiences bored," explains Pulga.
"To balance the risk, we remove our personal taste from the equation and select shows based on their potential to reach an audience, regardless of whether the script suits our own personal taste. Provided a show runs on time and doesn't literally set the room ablaze, artists have complete freedom to develop their work without any interference from the folks in the office!"
My About Town has interviewed a number of performers who will be having shows at The Butterfly Club, Claire Healy, Clara Cupcakes, Reuben Kaye, Lady Sings It Better and Isabella Valette, but there are still 14 other shows to discover.
"At the risk of becoming a living cliché, I am looking forward to seeing all of these shows but if I had to pick one out of pure personal taste, I'd choose Lynn Ruth Miller's This Is Your Future! At 82 she is the oldest Newcomer in the festival, and courtesy of 10 years of practice (she started doing stand-up at 72) she really knows her way around a stage. And a drink. And a dance floor. But that's a story for another day," Pulga laughs.
"Definitely Reuben Kaye's Plugged," says Woollard. " I've seen his career at a very early stage when he first set foot on our stage 10 odd years ago and now I've seen it flourish in London and Berlin, I can't wait to see the debauchery he plans on getting up to here in Melbourne. Happy Campers, the latest from comedy duo Jonestown would be another one. It's clever, wacky plots reminiscent of Lano and Woodley. A personal favourite."
So head on over to The Butterfly Club to not only see why they were the winners of Best Venue at last year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, but to also see some brilliant comedy!
The Butterfly Club is located at 5 Carson Place, Melbourne.