US comic wins Australia's most prestigious comedy prize

American comedian Rich Hall was awarded the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's Barry Award early Sunday morning.
US comic wins Australia's most prestigious comedy prize

American comedian Rich Hall was awarded the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's Barry Award early Sunday morning.


As the laughter dies in the streets of Melbourne at the close of the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF), Festival award winners have been announced, spreading one final vestige of cheer. The biggest winner was American comedian Rich Hall, who took home the prestigious Barry Award for most outstanding Festival show.

This was the second Barry nomination for Hall, a Festival veteran who has performed in 15 previous Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, and whose stand-up comedy clearly impressed the panel of 10 anonymous industry and media professionals who judge the award - and also our reviewer, who saw Hall's show early in the festival.

Festival Director Susan Provan chaired the judging panel. 'I’m thrilled that the Barry goes this year to a performer who has made an amazing contribution to the Comedy Festival over many years,' she said. 'An undisputed master of the art of standup, his current work is devastatingly sharp. Rich is an extraordinarily prolific artist whose hilarious tirades, lyrically complex, joke-laden songs and absurd flights of imagination gather audiences into delighted communal laughs.'

Other awards presented in the early hours of Sunday morning included the Best Newcomer Award, presented to Luke McGregor for My Soulmate is out of My League; The Piece of Wood – a comics’ choice award – presented to David Quirk for Shaking Hands with Danger; The Golden Gibbo Award for best independent production, named after the late Lynda Gibson and presented to Simon Keck for Nob Happy Sock; the Director’s Choice Award, presented to Mel Buttle for How Embarrassment; and the People’s Choice Award, this year presented to Arj Barker for Go Time.

Another big win went to teenager James Warren, whose quick wit and dry comedy style saw him take out the Class Clown National Grand Final, MICF's secondary school comedy competition and workshop program. Warren, from Rosny College in Tasmania, takes home the Class Clown trophy and a novelty human-sized cheque for $1000, plus another $1000 for his school.

Class Clown runners up were to Lachie Clarke from Trinity Grammar in Victoria, Emma Hogan from Concordia College in South Australia and Sam Perry from Darwin High School in the Northern Territory.

Class Clowns producer Karin Farrell said, 'The quality of the performances today took even the judges by surprise as seasoned professionals like Frank Woodley and Josie Long were in pieces backstage trying to decide on a winner. The calibre of these contestants highlights that there is most definitely a place for young people in comedy – and that they are right there on the heels of the current crop of comedians, poised to add their own unique and fresh take on how they see the world.'

The Class Clown Awards began in 1996 and is open to young people in years nine to twelve. Previous winners include Tom Ballard (Triple J) and Josh Thomas (Talkin’ Bout My Generation). Year round developmental workshops, teacher’s notes and online resources are available for other teens who wish to develop their comedic chops in line for 2014.

Melanie Sano

Monday 22 April, 2013

About the author

Melanie Sano is an ArtsHub writer.