Review: Canberra Comedy Festival, Gala Night

This year’s Canberra Comedy Festival Opening Gala was an explosive success, with its sensational line-up of Sammy J & Randy, Ronny Chieng, Akmal, Cal Wilson, Wil Sylvince, Urzila Carlson, Sparrow-Folk, the Umbilical Brothers and more. The Gala’s delightfully diverse line-up of world-class comedians, from Canberra to Helsinki, had an unpretentious likeability that charmed the socks off their Canberran audience.


From wedding cake toppers, Facebook copyright laws, food allergies, breastfeeding mothers, to the panic of not knowing whether you’ve left the iron on, the captivating energy and undeniable relatability of every act left even the most uptight-looking audience members wearily shaking their balding heads, chuckling, “i no dat feel”.


Among all the brilliant acts at the Opening Gala, Cal Wilson reminded us, with her usual spark, of the delights of autocorrect that can somehow transform an intimate sext into a threat of animal abuse. Ronny Chieng was absolutely explosive with his aggressively energetic rant on the attempted use of the Socratic method in Facebook comments sections. As the final act, the Umbilical Brothers brought back to life in everybody an inner child that just won’t die, with their incredible acting, astonishingly accurate sound effects, and a moving rendition of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.


If your kind of thing is being perpetually angry with everybody, loving thickshakes, being a failure, hating on iPhone or Android users, not understanding Chinese, or feeling out of your depth on Q& A – whatever sort of humour tickles your fancy – there’s something here for you.


With tickets sold out for the Opening Gala as well as several other shows (and an extra Gala Encore opening on the same night to supply the demand) it only goes to show the enormous level of anticipation that this “weird, static town” (Cal Wilson’s words, not mine) has had for this week of Canberran fun.


The Canberra Comedy Festival, 17th-22nd of March, tickets available online at






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