Let’s not get all sad and idealistic about a child’s laughter. Let’s face it, they are little monsters.
“The biggest laugh is when my head hurts,” says Richard Higgins, half of the children’s comedy double act The Listies. “Or injured. When I am threatened. When we threaten a teddy bear with violence.”
On the other hand, says his colleague Matt Kelly, one of the joys of performing these monsters is that “they are not cynical”. There is a pure sincerity to their enjoyment.
“They don’t irony or cynic. And that’s the wonderful thing about performing for kids, it’s just taken at face value. Especially after what has happened to families in the last two years, getting COVID, Going in and out of ISO, doing the RAT relentlessly, we really encourage people to laugh and whole families to come together and be silly and enjoy each other’s company in a really silly way.”
Every Melbourne International Comedy Festival has a children’s and family component to match the school holidays. This year, with a two-week crossover, an elaborate program includes a (Very) Big Laugh Out bigger than usual: 33 free outdoor shows with a variety of guest artists each day at Federation Square and Melbourne Museum Plaza.
One of the featured shows at the museum is wantedoko: Sean Chulbura, Alison Joyce and Sean Murphy who present stories, song and dance from Australian and PNG indigenous culture.
Kids Comedy: Some Family Friendly Festival Highlights
- The (Very) Big Laugh Out: A free line-up of stand-up, physical and musical comedy artists at Fed Square and the Melbourne Museum.
- Comedy Club for Kids: A lunchtime variety showcase for kids 6-12 years old, from stand-up and sketch to musical comedy and circus.
- The Scientites: Captain Chaos and Scientist Sam create havoc in this interactive sketch comedy science show for kids 5-12 years old.
- Mr. Snotbottom: The sordid songs and grossed-out gags from this cross between Mr. Bean and Shrek.
- Splash Test Dummy: Stunts, acrobatics and slapstick comedy from these circus stars.
They made the show for the big cultural celebration with this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but it is proving to be a perfect tonic for post-lockdown Australians, Murphy says.
“It’s basically to create something that gives kids and parents insight into ways to play without screens, or devices of any kind,” he says. “Just to jump straight in.”