Melbourne International Comedy Festival acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live. We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' spirit, imagination and rich history of storytelling and humour that is an inspiration to all Australians.



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Deadly Funny


Cheeky and loud, black and proud, Deadly Funny is Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s national comedy competition unearthing the freshest and funniest First Nations talent from across the country.

The 2022 Deadly Funny National Final will premiere on NITV and SBS Viceland on Wednesday 14 September at 9.30pm! Pop it in your calendar, set a reminder, get your mates around and tune in to see the freshest and fiercest comedians and yarn-spinners from the oldest culture.

What is Deadly Funny?

Deadly Funny is a national comedy competition open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 18. We want you to get behind the mic and work with some of Australia’s finest First Nations comedians and storytellers.

Entering its 16th year, Deadly Funny has seen the likes Steph Tisdell, Kevin KropinyeriAndy Saunders, Shiralee Hood, Dane Simpson and Sean Choolburra join the program as both participants and mentors – and you could be next!

To participate, all you need is five minutes of funny material. Material can be stand up, musical, sketch, physical/dance or character based, or simply the telling of a good yarn. You can participate as a solo, duo or trio. Sign up, come along, run through your ideas with a professional comedian in a three-hour workshop, and then jump on stage for a public performance.

Need more reasons to enter? Those who progress from their heat will be flown to Melbourne to perform at the 2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and compete for the Deadly Funny crown and a $2,000 cash prize!

Head over to our YouTube channel to watch performances from past Deadly Funny national finalists.

The Rules

  • Open to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders aged 18 and over (if you are under 18, check our the Class Clowns program here)
  • Acts should be 3-5 minutes max!
  • Acts can be 1-3 people
  • Routines must be original
  • Acts can be stand-up, musical, sketch, physical/dance or character based

For info on what the judges are looking for read the Deadly Funny judging policy here.

Sign up 

Registrations for Deadly Funny are currently closed. Check back later in the year and follow us on Facebook for updates.

Want to try comedy, but not sure where to start?

How do you write material?
What if you bomb on stage?
What is the secret to success?

We think the best people to answer these questions are the comedians who’ve “been there, done that”!

We asked some of Australia’s funniest folk for tips and tricks to get you started on your comedy journey and they’ve given candid answers to tricky questions. Join Rhys Nicholson, Dane Simpson, Cal Wilson, Ivan Aristeguieta, Michelle Brasier, Geraldine Hickey, Claire Hooper and Annie Louey, as they guide you through writing jokes, stagecraft and everything in between.

But first…

Why try comedy? Hear from Ivan, Michelle, Geraldine, Claire, Annie, Rhys, Dane and Cal in this in introductory video on why you should give comedy a go!

To access the full series of video resources simply register for Deadly Funny and we’ll email you all videos, including: how to write material, what not to do, what to do before hitting the stage, what to keep in mind on stage, what are the judges looking for, what if you bomb and how to use the stage.

These invaluable resources are exclusively available for Deadly Funny participants.


Melbourne International Comedy Festival openly encourages participation from people of all backgrounds and abilities, and is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for all. If you need any assistance with your registration or have any questions regarding the physical requirements to compete in the Deadly Funny workshop and competition, please contact or (03) 9245 3700.

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The 2023 Deadly Funny workshops and heats calendar is yet to be annouced, but will take place prior to the National Grand Final at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April 2023. Check back later for more info!


The safety and wellbeing of mob is our absolute priority. We’ve been working closely with our partners to make sure our state heats can proceed in the safest way given the surge of COVID cases. Some events will need to be postponed and rescheduled, check back for updates.

Event Date Times Venue Tickets
Adelaide, SA - Tarntanya Tue 1 Mar 2pm workshop
6pm performance
Melbourne, VIC - Naarm Fri 11 Mar 4pm workshop
7pm performance
Northcote Town Hall past event
Darwin, NT - Garramilla Tue 15 Mar 4pm workshop
7pm performance

Darwin Entertainment Centre

past event
Sydney, NSW - Djubuguli/Cadi Sat 12 Mar 2pm workshop
5pm performance
The Comedy Store past event
Brisbane, QLD - Meanjin Thu 24 Mar 4pm workshop
7pm performance
Citipointe Church West past event
Canberra, ACT - Ngambri Postponed   Tuggeranong Arts Centre

Postponed – returning for the 2023 program!

Alice Springs, NT - Mparntwe Postponed   Araluen Cultural Precinct Postponed – returning for the 2023 program!
Fremantle, WA - Walyalup Postponed   Fremantle Arts Centre Postponed – returning for the 2023 program!
Thursday Island, QLD - Waibene Postponed   TBC Postponed – returning for the 2023 program!
Townsville, QLD - Thul Garrie Waja/Currumbilbarra Postponed   TBC Postponed – returning for the 2023 program!
Katherine, NT Postponed   Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre  
National Grand Final Sat 16 Apr 3pm Forum Melbourne
2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival 
past event

Check back later for more information on Deadly Funny events dates or follow us on Facebook to stay up to date!

COVIDSafe Comedy - for more information on the Festival's COVIDSafe practices and to read a copy of our COVIDSafe Plans click here.


Deadly Funny is supported through the Australian Government's Indigenous Languages and Arts program.

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Have more questions about Deadly Funny? Check out our FAQs page.