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About - The Festival


Peter Milne, Sir Les Patterson & Peter Cook, Press Conference to launch first Melbourne Comedy Festival, 1987

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world, alongside Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival.

An annual event, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival literally takes over Australia's comedy capital, Melbourne, each autumn with an enormous program of stand-up comedy, cabaret, theatre, street performance, film, television, radio and visual arts.

The Festival was launched in 1987 by Barry Humphries and Peter Cook. Twenty-two Festivals later, with attendances of over 400,000, it has grown to be Australia's largest cultural event. With an average ticket price of just $22, the Comedy Festival is not only a hugely popular event but an extremely accessible one. When the Melbourne Town Hall precinct is converted into a giant comedy hub, there is something for every comedy lover, from the very best local and international comedy acts in venues of all shapes and sizes.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival aims to:

  • showcase and celebrate the best of Australia's comic artists
  • nurture and develop new comic performers and comedy works
  • present the finest overseas comedians to Australian audiences

Although the actual Festival only runs for three and a half weeks each year, the Comedy Festival is active on the comedy scene all year round. We're committed to bringing the art of comedy to as many punters as possible, while at the same time ensuring those who want to get into the game have every opportunity to develop their skills. Our annual Roadshow travels the length and breadth of the nation (even to Singapore) bringing Festival highlights to over 80,000 eager comedy lovers; the increasingly popular open mic comedy competition, Raw Comedy, begins in January each year, with heats happening in every state and territory as well as in regional centres; Class Clowns, our national secondary school comedy competition held throughout the year around the country, is proof that it's never too early to learn the comedy craft; and our latest development project, Deadly Funny, aims to uncover the comedy stars amongst Victoria and South Australia's Indigenous Australians.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival organisation provides the environment and promotional activities that unite and support all events. The Comedy Festival creates and manages a large number of the venues used for the Festival, presents a program of the best contemporary comedy from overseas and produces a significant number of special events for stage and screen.

The annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the culmination of our ongoing activities and, for three and a half weeks each year, makes Melbourne the centre of the comedy universe.

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