Comedy review: Bang On Live with Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe, Melbourne Town Hall, MICF 2024

A stage version of the popular podcast.
Two white women, on the left a blonde wearing all black with her arm around the shoulder of a shorter woman wearing a black singlet and denim jacket. They both have big smiles.

Created in 2017, Bang On is a biweekly podcast hosted by two of Australia’s most respected and well-  loved music journalists, who present a one-stop shop for ‘art, music, life and stuff’. It’s all the  conversations you need to be across each week (but don’t have the time to read a think piece). Bang On: Live is a dynamic experience that deftly transcends the audio format of their podcast, creating a  captivating and hilarious live show.  

For the Melbourne Town Hall performance as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it was clear that Bang On harbours a huge fan base. The sight of a line stretching well over 200 metres down Swanston Street is a testament to the podcast’s popularity and the affection fans have for Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe. 

In the show the duo’s playful banter immediately draw in the audience, setting the tone for a jam-packed 60 minutes of beautifully controlled chaos. It’s clear that they’re more than just co-hosts, but truly great friends.  

Each week, Warhurst and Rowe combine the latest news with quick wit and sharp commentary, offering their unique take on everything from the announcement of Margot Robbie producing a Monopoly movie via the criticism of Lenny Kravitz’s leather-clad gym wear to a scathing review of Lindsay Lohan’s recent  film. So the important kind of news.  

It’s not just about the laughs though; delving into slightly more serious topics, the pair offer poignant commentary on Australian nostalgia, society’s reliance on female-led domestic labour and the ridiculous costs of designer fashion. 

While the energy and enthusiasm of Bang On: Live is undeniable, the need to cram so many segments into a 60-minute run time sometimes feel a little overwhelming. The relentless pace leaves little room for reflection, as the audience is bombarded with new topics every few minutes.

A slightly longer run time, perhaps around 90 minutes, would have provided a more balanced pace, allowing for deeper exploration of each topic and giving the audience a chance to settle into each segment. However, Warhurst and Rowe’s ability to squeeze in so much into such a short period is a testament to their skill as journalists and presenters.  

A touching inclusion to the evening is when Warhurst’s brother, Kit, performs a sweet original song about their childhood.

Some highlights: a guest appearance from fellow Australian comedian Joel Creasey, and the inclusion of other interactive elements with the audience – a quiz to give away merchandise and a fashion show that included items found at Kmart and Bunnings. These moments add to the communal atmosphere where everyone feels like a part of the action.  

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Overall, Bang On: Live is a seamless blend of comedy and commentary, offering a fresh perspective on  the current state of the world. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer, there is something for everyone in the world of Warhurst and Rowe. After experiencing the live show, I’m convinced that Bang On: Live is not just a podcast; it’s a cultural institution.

Bang On Live with Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe was performed on 13 April 2024 at Melbourne Town Hall as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) 2024. It will tour to Brisbane Comedy Festival (27-28 April), Sydney Comedy Festival (18 May), Geelong (29 June), Wollongong (5 July), Cairns (12 July), Traralgon (19 July) and Wyong (27 July).

Hayley Thomas is an Adelaide born performing artist, arts writer and talent relations manager. She holds a Bachelor of Music Theatre from the University of Adelaide and a Graduate Certificate in Arts (Screen Studies) from the University of Melbourne. She has a love for research-based film analysis, exploring the nuances of the human psyche. Her other interests include running, Pilates, dogs and pasta. Hayley is based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Instagram: @hayleyerynn