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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Information for Performers - faqs

WHO CAN ENTER THE FESTIVAL?

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is an open access festival for all citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand. Overseas artists or their producers should submit an Expression of Interest to the Festival Director.

DO I HAVE TO AUDITION OR SUBMIT ANY MATERIAL TO BE SELECTED?

No, not if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FESTIVAL?

In addition to writing and performing your show, you need someone to produce your show.

Producing a show involves everything from organising and paying for venue hire, marketing and publicity, travel and accommodation, sourcing props and equipment, budgeting, ticketing, obtaining insurance and licences and much more. As part of your registration, the Festival provides information packs and workshops to assist, but it is up to you to make it happen. We have helpful podcasts available on publicity, marketing and production that can help to answers your questions.

WHEN DO REGISTRATIONS TAKE PLACE?

Registrations for the 2022 Festival will open in late 2021.

Register an account here to sign up to our participant newsletters to receive updates.

HOW DO I REGISTER A SHOW?

There are three parts to registering a show:

  1. Fill out the online registration information
  2. Pay the registration fee
  3. Sign and submit the ‘Conditions of Participation’ documentation

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED FOR THE ONLINE REGISTRATION?

Generally, to complete a registration, the following information is required:

  • Show title and copy
  • Good quality show image
  • Venue, dates and times
  • Ticket prices and booking information
  • Producer & Publicist contact details

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REGISTER?

The cost to register to participate in the 2022 Festival is yet to be set.

For 2021, in recognition of the tough year everyone had, the Festival reduced our registration fee for 2021 to a flat $350 for all shows. Prior to this, the registration fee was $525 (Australian & New Zealand artists), $375 (for Australian & New Zealand artists with maximum 2 performances), or $685 (International artists).

WHAT DOES THE REGISTRATION FEE COVER?

Registered shows are listed in Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s generic print and digital marketing materials. Actual formats may change from year to year. Every registered show has a show page on the Festival website with links to online ticket purchasing platforms during the Festival. You will have access to resource guides and handbooks as well as regular information sessions provided by the Festival to assist in producing your show. The Festival negotiates discounted advertising rates and special offers with photographers and graphic designers should you require that support. The Festival provides a publicity and marketing team dedicated to the promotion of the Festival as a whole (but not individual show PR). For targeted, individual show PR, participants may need to hire their own dedicated publicists.

IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT TO REGISTER?

No there isn’t, however, some venues are licensed and cannot permit under 18’s on the premises. You’d need to take this into account when deciding upon a venue that is best for you, your show and your target audience. At any age, the serious financial commitment that entering the Festival entails should not be underestimated.

WHAT IF I DON’T FEEL READY TO PUT ON A SHOW BUT I’D STILL LIKE TO TAKE PART?

Performers not ready to present a full show might think about a more modest start in comedy with:

  • RAW Comedy National Open Mic Competition
  • Deadly Funny National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Comedy Competition 
  • Class Clowns National Secondary School Comedy Competition

More information about these competitions can be found on their websites.

I’M NOT AN AUSTRALIAN OR NEW ZEALAND CITIZEN OR RESIDENT, HOW DO I SUBMIT AN EXPRESSION OF INTEREST AND SEEK APPROVAL TO REGISTER?

Overseas artists are welcome to make enquiries about participating in the Festival or to submit an expression of interest at any time by emailing info@comedyfestival.com.au.

AS AN OVERSEAS ARTIST, HOW DO I APPLY TO HAVE THE FESTIVAL PRODUCE MY SHOW? 

Please open a conversation with the Festival Director by emailing info@comedyfestival.com.au.

Send us information about yourself and your show, particularly information about any upcoming tours and performances. Please note that it’s unlikely we will produce an artist the Director has not seen performing live.

AS AN OVERSEAS ARTIST, IF I’M NOT PRODUCED BY THE COMEDY FESTIVAL, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

Securing a producer is important and the Festival can make suggestions if you do not have the relevant connections. Once you have secured a producer they will liaise with the Festival on your behalf to obtain approval for you to register. If you choose to self-produce, you will be responsible for organising (and paying for) all aspects of your show yourself including your own travel, accommodation, appropriate visas as well as finding a venue, organising ticket sales, marketing and publicising your show. Demonstration of your ability to manage all of this will impact on the approval (or otherwise) of your application to participate in the Festival.

HOW DO I SUBMIT INFORMATION TO BE APPROVED AS AN OVERSEAS ARTIST?

Overseas artists are welcome to make enquiries about participating in the Festival or to submit an expression of interest at any time by emailing info@comedyfestival.com.au.

Register an account here to sign up to our participant newsletters to receive updates.

AS AN OVERSEAS ARTIST DOES THE COMEDY FESTIVAL ORGANISE MY VISA?

There are a number of visa options available and we recommend checking with the Australian Immigration Department or your local embassy to work out which is most suitable for your circumstances.

For further information regarding this service and the process please contact us at info@comedyfestival.com.au.

WHAT IS A FESTIVAL MANAGED VENUE (FMV)?

As the name suggests, the Festival hires, fits out and staffs several venues within the Melbourne CBD, including the Melbourne Town Hall, Max Watt’s, Trades Hall, Victoria Hotel, the Chinese Museum, the Greek Centre and Forum Melbourne. If you apply for and are accepted to present your show in an FMV, you will be provided with a venue fully equipped with sound, lighting, staging and seating. You will also be provided with a technical stage manager, front of house and box office staff. You will be responsible for all creative aspects of your show as well as all marketing and publicity.

CAN I PUT MY SHOW IN A FESTIVAL MANAGED VENUE?

Expressions of Interest are now open for performing in a Festival Managed Venue – click here for more information. We welcome submissions but need to stress that competition for the spaces is always high. We urge interested participants to explore a range of venue options and chat to us if you need help.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY APPLICATION FOR A FESTIVAL MANAGED VENUE IS UNSUCCESSFUL?

You do not have to perform in a Festival Managed Venue to be part of the Comedy Festival. Many shows are performed in independent venues including large theatres, council & community spaces and smaller venues such as bars, pubs and clubs. These all offer a variety of spaces and hire arrangements at different prices, so there’s something to suit everyone. The Festival maintains a database of venues that have previously hosted Comedy Festival shows, as well as venues that have expressed an interest in doing so in the future. The database is a good start in your venue search but is not exhaustive – any venue is a potential Comedy Festival venue.

HOW CAN MY VENUE BECOME INVOLVED IN THE MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL?

There are two ways a venue can be involved in the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

Festival Managed Venue
These venues (FMVs), are managed by the Festival. We build stages, seating banks, box offices, bars, employ staff and program all the artists in these venues. Festival Managed Venues in the past have included Melbourne Town Hall, ACMI, Trades Hall, Greek Centre, Forum Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne and more. We require access to these venues for the entire period of the Festival, and curate the program with artists and producers directly.

Independent Venue
Any venue in Melbourne is a potential venue for the Festival and can get involved by registering their interest here. These venues are run independently, liaising with artists and producers directly. The venue is responsible for setting up the performing space, staffing the venue, programming artists, marketing the venue, and setting up a box office space. The Festival has a ticketing service which can be used by artists at these venues if allowed. Many independent venues have existing contracts with other ticketing providers in which case sales are accessed via a link to our website. Independently programmed and run venues in past Festivals have included The Athenaeum, Malthouse Theatre, The Toff in Town, Elephant and Wheelbarrow, The Butterfly Club, The Exford Hotel, Tasma Terrace, Thornbury Theatre, St Kilda RSL and more.

NB. Independent Venues must have Public Liability Insurance and a COVIDSafe Plan that must comply with all government regulations in force during the period of the Comedy Festival.

Venue Expressions of Interest

The Festival maintains a database of all venues interested in hosting a Melbourne International Comedy Festival show. This database is accessible to producers interested in registering a show in the Festival. To express interest in being a Festival venue please fill in the form here and we will add you to our database.

I’ve registered my Venue, what’s next?

Festival staff will be in contact once you have registered and will discuss whether your venue may be suitable as a Festival Managed Venue or as an Independent Venue.

Once finalised and registrations are open, your venue will be added to the potential venues list and independent artists and producers will contact independent venues directly. If you require assistance in programming your venue there are some independent programming teams we can recommend.

If your venue is Festival Managed then all programming will be managed by the Festival team (if any artists contact you directly, please refer them to Festival staff).