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.


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.

Now in its 15th year, Deadly Funny has seen the likes of Steph Tisdell, Kevin Kropinyeri, Andy Saunders, Shiralee Hood, Dane Simpson and Sean Choolburra join the program as both participants and mentors.

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. 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? State winners have the opportunity to participate in the National Grand Final as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and compete for the Deadly Funny crown and a $2,000 cash prize!

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

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Sign up

You can now register your interest in participating in the 2021 here!

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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All 2021 Deadly Funny workshops and heats will be taking place in February 2021. Check back later for event dates or follow Deadly Funny on Facebook for all event announcements. If you sign up for a Deadly Funny workshop/heat you'll be notified by email when event details are confirmed.

Event Date Times Venue Tickets
Melbourne, VIC Thursday 11 February 2021 3pm workshop, 7pm performance   Northcote Town Hall on sale soon

Brisbane, Qld

Monday 15 February 2021 3pm workshop, 7pm performance   Citipointe Church West on sale soon

Fremantle, WA

Wednesday 17 February 2021 2.30pm workshop, 6.30pm performance


Fremantle Arts Centre Tickets here
Adelaide, SA Thursday 25 February 2021 TBC workshop, 9pm performance


Tandanya - Inparrinthi Space on sale soon

Sydney, NSW

Tuesday 16 February 2021 3pm workshop, 7pm performance   The Comedy Store on sale soon
Canberra, ACT Feb 2021 - event details to come        
Darwin, NT Feb 2021 - event details to come        
National Grand Final       2021 Melbourne International Comey Festival  

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

What about Deadly Funny 2020?
Due to Covid-19, unfortunately the 2020 Deadly Funny National Grand Final event was unable to take place. We are looking at options for featuring the 2020 national Deadly Funny finalists as part of the 2021 event. If you registered and participated in Deadly Funny in 2020, we’d encourage you to sign-up and participate in a workshop and heat again!

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Deadly FAQS

How do I register?
Simply complete our registration form to express your interest in taking part. After you’ve registered, you’ll hear from the Deadly Funny producer with more information.

What are the benefits of participating?
You will get the chance to work with a professional comedian to develop your material and stagecraft, the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience, and go into the running to get involved in the National Grand Final and win $2,500.

When are the workshops held?
In 2021, all workshops and heats will be taking place between January and March.

What is involved in the workshop?
All participants with a professional comedian to refine their comedy, hone their yarns and get comfortable with the microphone, and being on stage in general.

How many people are in the workshops?
Each heat has a maximum of 18 places, so register your interest quick!

What do I have to do to prepare?
Think about your funniest jokes and yarns, what do you tell your friends, family and community to make them laugh? What makes you laugh? The more jokes and stories you have up your sleeve, the more fun you can have in the workshop, where our mentors can help you with structure, punchlines and looking comfortable on stage.

How do I get started writing a comedy set?
Comedians all work differently, some people test their material out in front of friends, others keep notes on their phone, and others again sit down and write scripts, word for word. Whatever method works for you, it’s worth having some written prompts down to help you stay on track when you’re on stage.

Can I do the workshops but choose not to compete?
Of course! While it’s very much encouraged, no-one is going to force you to get up on stage! Often people who are nervous before a workshop gain the necessary confidence in the process of working with the facilitator.

I’m nervous about participating. What should I do?
Nerves are a very natural part of live performance – they keep performers on their toes and can sometimes lead to some brilliant moments on stage. We would encourage you to come along to the workshop and see how you are feeling after working on your material.

If you really don’t feel ready, then consider coming along to the show to see what it’s all about – it is a (cheap and sometimes free!) rollicking good time and may provide some inspiration for your own written or performance work in future years.

I have accessibility requirements, how do I arrange assistance?
Please email for any assistance in access requirements.

How much does it cost?
Nothing, it’s FREE to participate in Deadly Funny.

When do registrations close?
Registrations remain open until the day of each workshop, or until the maximum capacity of 18 places has been reached.

I registered but didn't get a confirmation. What do I do?
We always reply, don't worry! Sometimes the confirmation emails go to your junk folder. Check there, and if you can't find your email, contact us at

Who can I talk to for more info?
You can reach the Deadly Funny producer via email on

What if I don’t fit the criteria?
If you are under the age of 18, we recommend having a look at our Class Clowns program.

If you do not identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can check out our RAW Comedy program.

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Past events


Congratulations to the 2019 Deadly Funny winner Fabian Woods from Western Australia! 

The 2019 Deadly Funny National Final & Showcase was aired NITV on Tuesday 3 December 2019, you can watch clips from the 2019 event on YouTube.

2019 Deadly Funny National Final Front row: Kylan Ambrum, Cy Fahey, Fabian Woods, Tyler Saunders (guest artist), Luca Saunders (guest artist), Leon Filewood (guest artist), Kevin Kropinyeri (judge), Allara Briggs-Pattison (Dhungala Baarka, guest artist). Back row: Dave Human, Micah Kickett, Maryanne Johns, Trent Wilson, Steph Tisdell, Ian Bennell, Kasey Johnson, Yvette Holt, Sam Simmons (judge), Maggie Walsh, Celia Pacquola (judge), Jay Wymarra, Nancy Bates (Dhungala Baarka, guest artist), Caroline Martin (judge)

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Congratulations to the 2018 Deadly Funny winner Leon Filewood from Queensland! 

The 2018 Deadly Funny National Final & Showcase was recorded for NITV, you can watch clips from the 2018 event on YouTube.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Deadly Funny winner Ghenoa Gela

The 2017 Deadly Funny National Final & Showcase was recorded for NITV, you can watch clips from the 2017 event on YouTube.

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