Comic musings, side-splitting stories and tear-inducing tales…
Looking for upcoming comedy shows and events or wondering what’s on in Brisbane tonight? Australia’s fastest growing comedy festival, Brisbane Comedy Festival, has grown into a multi-venue extravaganza, bursting at the seams to host a hand-picked selection of the funniest folk in the country.
Held at Brisbane Powerhouse, The Tivoli and The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane Comedy Festival plays host to one-liners, whimsy and tall tales from some of the most hilarious local, national and international comedians.
From stand up to improv and sketch comedy, we’ve got your tastes covered with the funniest shows to see in Brisbane, plus we’ll shine a light on the best new talent, here and now!
What’s there to do in Brisbane today? Join your fellow Brisbanites at Brisbane Comedy Festival for night after night of side-splitting fun.*
*Brisbane Comedy Festival is not responsible for medical costs incurred as a result of said side-splitting.
- 2022 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2021 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2020 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2019 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2018 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2017 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2016 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2015 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
- 2014 Brisbane Comedy Festival Guide
Laugh out loud with the best comedy Brisbane and the world has to offer
There’s nothing quite like the rush of laughter that comes from a live comedy performance.
Sure, you might get a chuckle from watching a sitcom or a funny video, but the energy of a live audience and a talented comedian creates a level of hilarity that’s simply unmatched.
Every year, Brisbane Comedy Festival brings together an even bigger line-up of returning fan favourites, exciting new talents, and international heavy hitters for a rib-tickling cavalcade of live comedy events in Brisbane.
Held from 28 April to 28 May 2023, this multi-venue laughter extravaganza is held across Brisbane Powerhouse, The Tivoli and The Fortitude Music Hall.
Whether you like to giggle, chortle, or enjoy a full-blown belly laugh, our program includes performances to suit all tastes, with genres spanning stand-up comedy, improv, musicals, cabaret, theatre and variety nights.
Audiences will be treated to night-after-night of hilariously insightful observations, unbelievable situational anecdotes, absurdist sketches, sharp-witted improvisation, ingenious parody songs and everything in between.
With so many different types of comedy shows on offer across multiple venues, there’s sure to be something that tickles your funny bone at Australia’s fastest growing comedy festival!
Stand-Up Comedy Shows
If laughter is the best medicine then stand-up comedy is the prescription we all need. Featuring a performer standing on stage with a microphone in hand, stand-up shows are all about making people laugh through a finely-honed routine of jokes.
It’s a versatile comedy style, with stand-up comedians using everything from hilarious stories about their own life to biting political satire to slapstick physical stunts as they deliver a performance that leaves the audience in stitches.
There’s no better place to get a healthy dose of what makes stand-up special than the Brisbane Comedy Festival! Every year, we host a hand-picked selection of the brightest stars from the comedy world for a multi-venue laughter extravaganza.
What is stand-up comedy?
Stand-up comedy is the art of making people laugh by telling jokes live on stage. It’s a vast and varied comedy style, ranging from silly and absurd to dark and edgy. Some stand-up comedians use props or music to enhance their performance, while others rely solely on their own wit and storytelling abilities to amuse the audience.
Traditional stand-up is based around “observational comedy”. This means finding humour in everyday life, such as relationships, work, and family. It’s also common for comedians to tell jokes that are self-deprecating or make light of current events.
However, stand-up is a genre that’s constantly evolving with new voices emerging all the time to push the boundaries of what we find funny. Whether it’s watching the greatest stand-up comedian in a sold-out arena or a local comedy act at an open mic night, every comedian has their own unique approach.
While anybody can tell a joke, it takes creativity, wit and timing to deliver a truly hilarious set on the stand-up stage. There’s a formula to making people laugh, but there’s also an element of magic to it. Good stand-up comedians know how to pace their jokes and build up to a punchline, creating something that will keep the audience laughing night after night.
What are the different styles of stand-up comedy?
Stand-up comedy is not limited to just a person gracing the stage and doing a funny bit. Part of the appeal is discovering new and exciting ways to make audiences laugh. Here are some of the most popular stand-up comedy styles:
Observational comedians take everyday situations and point out the ridiculousness of them in a way that is funny and entertaining. The jokes are usually based on the comedian’s personal experiences or interactions with the world around them. It is a popular style seen in most stand-up comedy specials because it allows the audience to laugh along with situations they can easily relate to.
Satirical comedy is a sharp and witty commentary on issues affecting modern life, often designed to provoke thought and highlight the hypocrisies and absurdities of the world. Satirical comedians might target political figures, institutions, or cultural trends, using irony, sarcasm, and exaggeration to create their jokes.
This style of stand-up comedy relies heavily on physical gestures, facial expressions, and body language to get laughs. Also known as slapstick, physical comedy is about creating a visual spectacle on stage, and often involves props or costumes.
Dark comedy explores topics that are typically considered too serious or disturbing to joke about. Also called black comedy or gallows humour, it is characterised by the use of vulgar language, sexual themes, and crude humour to shock the audience. This style of stand-up is not for everyone, but can be hilarious in the right hands.
Deadpan comedy involves delivering jokes with a straight face, often using a monotone delivery to heighten the absurdity of the joke. These are typically one-liners rather than lengthy monologues. Deadpan comedy is a subtle style that requires precision and timing to ensure that the jokes still land with the audience.
This style of comedy is all about telling engaging and hilarious stories, often based on the comedian’s personal experiences. Some stand-up comedians will even improvise their entire set based on whatever the audience wants to hear about. It’s a great way to build a connection and create a memorable performance.
Character comedy is similar to traditional stand up except the comedian performs the entire show as a fictional character. This can be completely made up or based on a real-life person or stereotype. It takes a lot of skill and commitment from the comedian to stay in character, but this style allows them to explore new comedic angles and perspectives that they might not be able to as themselves.
What can you expect from our stand-up comedy shows?
Stand-up comedy is a unique form of entertainment that blends humour and storytelling with deep insights into human nature and imaginative performances. While you’ve no doubt enjoyed a Netflix comedy special from the couch, nothing compares to experiencing the room full of laughter at a stand-up comedy event.
One of the hallmarks of live stand-up comedy shows is the connection between the comedian and their audience. Stand-up comics want to engage the crowd, feed off their reactions and build a rapport with them over the course of the performance. This creates a sense of intimacy and shared experience as the audience feels like they’re a part of the show – and sometimes they are! Some of the funniest moments in stand-up comedy come from unexpected improvisation or crowd comment.
The best way to enjoy stand-up comedy is to go with an open mind and be prepared for anything. Beyond the pure joy of a good giggle, it’s also a great opportunity to bond with friends and family. Stand-up shows have the power to make us laugh, think, and connect with one another. You never know what might happen in the moment which helps to dial up the laugh-o-meter when a joke really lands.
Excited to see a stand-up comedy show?
For more than a decade now, Brisbane Comedy Festival has welcomed the funniest folk in the country to our stand-up stage. From rising stars to comedy legends, our stand-up shows offer a hilarious blend of satire, observational humour, and witty one-liners that will have you rolling in the aisles.
Improv Comedy Shows
Not quite sure what to expect from our improv shows? That’s great because neither are the comedians. Every year, Brisbane Comedy Festival hosts some of the country’s cleverest improv performers, who take the stage armed with nothing but their razor-sharp wit and just make it up on the spot.
From freewheeling storytelling to unrestrained improv games to spontaneous sketch comedy, the one thing you are guaranteed when you book tickets to our improv shows is an unpredictable night of hilarity.
What is improvisational comedy?
Improv is a style of comedy where anything can happen – and usually does! There is no script or pre-planning before each show, with the performers using their creativity and quick thinking to craft scenes, characters, and jokes.
Improv comedians are typically inspired by audience suggestions or prompts. From there, they use their comedic talents and improv training to build out the jokes, often playing multiple characters or switching between scenes at lightning speed.
One of the key elements of modern improvisational comedy is the concept of “Yes, and.” This means that the performers should always accept any idea that is thrown at them and build on it – no matter how bizarre the suggestion may be.
Think of it like a game of comedic ping pong, where each player has to keep the ball bouncing back and forth. For example, if one performer says, “We’re on a spaceship,” the other performer might say, “Yes, and we’re running out of oxygen.”
It’s important to keep the scene moving, but the true joy of improv comes as the suggestions get more ridiculous. By taking something unexpected and running with it, improv comedians can surprise their audience and generate the biggest laughs.
Of course, that’s just one example of how improv comedy works. This unique comedy style can take on many different formats, such as short-form games with quick jokes and one-liners to longer scenes with more complex characters and storylines.
Some stand-up comedians will craft an entire show based on a single audience suggestion. Improv comedy performances can even be competitive as teams try to one-up each other with whip-smart gags to amuse the judges and the audience.
Improv comedy requires a lot of skill and practice, as performers need to be quick on their feet and able to think creatively. When it’s done well, that spontaneous comedy brilliance to craft jokes in real-time makes improv a must-see experience.
What are the different styles of improv comedy?
Improvised comedy is one of the most exciting and dynamic forms of entertainment, with a variety of formats each with their own unique approach and techniques. Here are just a few of the most popular styles of live improv comedy shows:
This is perhaps the most well-known style of improv comedy, thanks in part to TV shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”. Short-form improv involves a series of fast-paced games or scenes, each with their own set of rules. It’s often like a sketch comedy Olympics, with performers trying to see who can be the funniest or most creative with their responses.
This style is often performed by improv groups who will take a single idea and use it to craft an entire narrative. A popular long-form improv format is “The Harold”, which involves three distinct “beats” of scenes, followed by a group scene that ties everything together. This allows for a wide variety of scenarios, recurring characters, joke callbacks, and an overarching plot.
As the name suggests, musical improv involves the performers breaking out into song. They might already be familiar with the tune, but will be asked to create humorous lyrics on the spot. This can be based on a particular theme or audience suggestion. Musical improv requires a special set of skills, including a strong sense of melody, an ability to improvise lyrics, and a willingness to look silly.
This style of improv takes inspiration from different genres, such as horror, sci-fi, film noir, or romance. The performers use the conventions and tropes of these genres to create funny and unexpected scenes.
What can you expect from our improv performances?
Improv shows offer something that other comedy performances simply cannot match – an organic experience that changes every time. With no script to follow, the performers have to rely on their comedy instincts and each other to create something truly unique and hilarious.
Unlike stand-up comedy, which is all about carefully rehearsed jokes and routines, the foundation of improv is spontaneity. Even if comedians are given the same prompt or suggestion, the way they interpret and perform it can vary widely, making each improv show its own special experience.
That doesn’t mean every joke is a winner. Sometimes performers will try something that falls flat, but that’s all part of the fun. The best improv comedians know how to turn a flop into a success, using it to build on the scene and create even more laughs. You never know what might happen at an improv comedy show!
Ready to check out an improv comedy show?
Experience the ultimate in live comedy entertainment at Brisbane Comedy Festival! Featuring the best home-grown comedy stars alongside some international favourites, there’s sure to be a performance that tickles your funny bone. Watch as our talented comedians improvise hilarious scenes, characters, and songs right before your eyes, without a script or safety net. With a range of formats, our improv shows are always fresh, unpredictable, and guaranteed to make you laugh.