By Cam Lucadou-Wells
After the year we’ve had, we could all do with a laugh.
Stand-up comedian Daniel Connell has certainly seen a thirst for live humour with sellout crowds flocking to this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
“Everybody is rapt that it’s happening. There’s a spring in our steps.
“All the crowds are just happy to be out. They’re all excited and into it – they’re keen from the get-go.”
Connell is MC for the festival’s roadshow which is stopping in Dandenong on Friday 23 April.
The roadshow features a line-up including Connell, musical humorist Jude Perl, headline act Dilruk Jayasinha and other stand-ups from the festival.
Each act is a snappy 20 minutes. It’s enough time to get to know each performer as well as sample a variety of acts, Connell says.
Connell’s yearly routine involves travel to about 40 shows and comedy festivals such as Edinburgh, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.
Last year, live acts were hard to come by in the year 2020 – except those that were live-streamed.
In Connell’s case, he ZOOMed shows from his kitchen after putting his baby to bed – a set up of a spotlight, microphone, pots and pans and the washing-up.
Luckily, audiences gave him a lot of leeway in that time, he says. It also gave him the chance to be home a lot with the newborn.
Though a grindingly grim topic last year, Covid was now minded by most stand-ups for laughs, he says.
Connell has been assuring his audiences that his venues are Covid-safe, having fitted a “second-hand nebuliser” that he got cheap from a certain hotel in Tullamarine.
But it was a tough year to generate new content while inside the Covid bubbles.
“Right in the lockdowns, it was difficult. You need to see people and be out and about to find new material and getting those muscles moving.
“I tried to create 20 minutes of stand-up about six months ago. It was a real struggle.
“Some of it was just crap, just writing for the sake of writing.”
And that’s why the comedians are now “raring to go”.
“We just want to work now. I wish the comedy festival would go another fortnight.”
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow is at Drum Theatre, Dandenong on Friday 23 April, 8pm-10.15pm.
Bookings: drum.greaterdandenong.vic.gov.au/drum/events/melbourne-international-comedy-festival-roadshow or 8571 1666.