Best of British

Bianca Rohlje

MICF: A showcase of top British stand-up comedians performs a selection from their solo acts at Melbourne’s Exford Hotel.
Best of British
A showcase of top British stand-up comedians performs a selection from their solo acts at Melbourne’s Exford Hotel. Hosted by Dan Willis (Ferris Bueller’s Way Off), a rotating bill of four acts — at least three top class international comedians are guaranteed every night —are brought together and given approximately 10-15 minutes to entertain the audience.

The line-up — usually unknown to the audience prior to the night — on Friday March 30 included Adam Ethan Crow (The Evolution of Crow), Obie (Hilarious Mind Control), Tom Binns (Ian D Montfort: Spirit Comedian) and Eddie Bannon.

To what looked like a packed out audience, Dan Willis introduced the show by pointing out the ‘etiquette’ in responding to a comedian’s performance — the right way to heckle and applaud. This got the audience going with everyone excited, anticipating the comedy acts to come and those in the front two rows somewhat dreading their choice of seating.

Eddie Bannon was the first to start the proceedings. Speaking about marriage, relationships, children and cleavage, he had the audience on a roll with loud laughter, applause and understanding. But a third of the way through his act, his lively engagement with the crowd seemed to slowly dissipate as he became tedious and a bit ridiculous in his anecdotes.

Tom Binns brought the audience back to a more enjoyable footing. As a spiritual medium — the comedic alter ego of John Edwards — Binns chose a man from the front row and disclosed absurd and open-ended thoughts about him, which had the audience in hysterics and clapping furiously. His act came to an end too soon and set the tone for the two acts to follow.

The third act of the night, and introduced as “one of the best comedians” that Dan Willis knows, was Obie. All the way from Scotland, this was his first time as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. What started out as a promising act soon deteriorated quickly, with the audience responding with polite, awkward laughter. Although political incorrectness, profuse profanity and sexual innuendo are expected when going to see a stand-up performance, presenting material all over the place with no rhythm is not what an audience really wants to see.

Finally Adam Ethan Crow, like Binns brought the audience back on track. Overtly politically incorrect — using sex, religion and social issues — and profane, Crow’s presentation of his material was flawless. Once again the audience was in hysterics and clapping furiously. It was a great way to end the show with the audience leaving on a positive note.

Dan Willis has to be commended for keeping the audience in a lively and excitable mood. Although not all of the acts brought the house down, Willis’ short comedic anecdotes between each performer’s sets kept the show going, making it overall an enjoyable, fun evening.

Rating: 3.5 out 5 stars

Best of British
Exford Hotel, Melbourne
March 28 — April 21

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 28 – April 22

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Bianca Rohlje is a Melbourne based writer and photographic artist. She holds a certificate IV in professional writing and editing and is the art editor of 21D - a literary and arts magazine.