Melbourne Comedy Fest Barry Award nominees revealed

The nominations for this year’s Barry Award for most outstanding show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival were announced this morning by Barry Humphries, after whom the award is named. And it seems local comedians are making some of the biggest waves at this year’s festival, with Australians making up five of the seven nominated acts.

The local nominees are: Anne Edmonds’ That’s Eddotainment, Damien Power’s Sell Mum into Slavery, Rhys Nicholson’s Bona Fide, Tom Ballard’s The World Keeps Happening and Boundless Plains to Share, and Zoe Coombs Marr’s Trigger Warning. They’re joined by Irish comedian David O’Doherty for his show We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At David O’Doherty, and British comedian Luisa Omielan for Am I Right Ladies?

Daily Review has reviewed three of the nominated shows.

In a four-star review of Tom Ballard’s show, Melinda Oliver wrote:

The mid-20s Australian comedian revels in his own brazenness, completely unafraid to push his audience to the limit. Religion, dead politicians and Justin Bieber are among his targets. “Com’on Melbourne!” he scolded, if we were not 100 percent on board with an un-PC joke. “This is going to be a long night.”

If he continues to push the breadth of his shtick and doesn’t back down from his fearless approach, the trajectory should continue.

In a 4.5-star review of Luisa Omielan’s show, Shane Murphy wrote:

The show is funny, rude, and direct. It’s also frank about sex and interpersonal nightmares with serious messages that cap each section. Luisa talks about her depression, her search for validation through sex, her misery at failed relationships, body image and the manner in which women sabotage their potential.

It’s a very personal journey and she delivers it with passion. I’ve now seen three shows with a similar comedic style at this Festival and it hasn’t grown stale or too earnest. Come for the belly laughs and the slight awkwardness that arises when a comedian skirts the edges and then hits home with a point.

In a four-star review of David O’Doherty’s show, Melinda Oliver wrote:

He’s got the self-deprecating Irish charm and crinkly-eye smile to win over the hardest of hearts, but also has an arsenal of relatable stories about everyday life that make you look at the simplest things in a new way.

And while other comedians set out to be mean and rely on a barrage of swearing to shock, O’Doherty simply wants us to know that we’re doing OK. We’re all facing the same issues, despairs and absurd relationships, and yet we’re getting through the day. He thinks even superstar Beyonce has normal human feelings — perhaps one day a year, or maybe two.

We’ve not yet seen Anne Edmonds or Zoe Coombs Marr’s shows, but we’re big fans of both comics, and we’ve heard great things about Damien Power’s show. Daily Review Deputy Editor Ben Neutze caught Rhys Nicholson’s Bona Fide in a short development season in Perth and while we don’t publish reviews of works-in-progress, he says it was shaping up to be a truly great and provocative standup show.

Australians have won the award for the last two years, with Sam Simmons picking it up in 2015 and beloved veteran Denise Scott honoured in 2014. Will the locals be able to make it a hat trick?

The nominees were also announced for Best Newcomer, with two Australians, Demi Lardner and Tom Walker, and two New Zealanders, Guy Montgomery and Rose Matafeo.

The winners will be announced this Saturday night.


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