2016 Comedy Festival Celebrates 30 Years Of Laughs

21 March 2016

The 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival has arrived bringing with it more than 2,000 artists and 530 shows for all tastes and all ages.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley joined the festival team and artists today to launch the 2016 festival and reflect on three decades of the iconic Melbourne event.

Launched in 1987 by comedy greats Peter Cook and Barry Humphries (as Sir Les Patterson), the Melbourne International Comedy Festival began with little more than 50 shows in noted comedy venues around the CBD. It is now one of the world’s largest and most respected comedy celebrations.

The first festival included acts such as Gina Riley, Doug Anthony All Stars, The Found Objects, a trio of teenagers including Colin Lane and Frank Woodley, and Rod Quantock, who has gone on to perform in every festival since.

Thirty years on, the Comedy Festival attracts more than 770,000 people over three and a half weeks, generating millions for the Victorian economy. This year’s festival is supported by more than $1.6 million from the Andrews Labor Government.

Beyond the autumn event, the Comedy Festival team works year round, touring nationally and internationally and fostering the next generation of comedy talent with programs such as RAW Comedy, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy program Deadly Funny and schools program, Class Clowns.

This year’s anniversary program includes a ‘30th Birthday Bash’ gala with a line-up of comedians who have been part of the festival story, a series of live panel discussions and the free anniversary exhibition Humour Us at Arts Centre Melbourne, which highlights moments, and comedians, that have shaped the festival.

The 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs from 23 March – 17 April 2016. For full program details go to

Quotes attributable to Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley

“Melbourne is a hub for creativity and comedy is one of our great strengths, filtering across stand up, screenwriting, novels, radio and more.”

“Over the past thirty years our Comedy Festival has uncovered many of Australia’s most beloved comic talents, introduced us to some of the funniest people from across the globe and brought thousands of visitors to our city.”

“It’s a success story that demonstrates the enormous economic, social and cultural value of Victoria’s creative industries and I encourage everyone to come along and share in the laughs for this anniversary edition.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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