HOT: Night of the Lepus, Cinema Fiasco!, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Cinema Nova, 368-384 Lygon St, Carlton

Cinema Fiasco Melbourne International Comedy Festival Cinema Nova

This year for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival I decided to do things a little differently.

Rather than going to see a packed timetable of international stand up comics (my usual modus operandi) I watched a film instead. Ever heard of ‘Night of the Lepus‘? Me either.

Night of the Lepus is an unintentionally funny sci-fi horror film from the 70s about giant carnivorous killer rabbits (!) and it was presented (on Good Friday – ha ha!) by Cinema Fiasco – a Melbourne comedy duo who show bad movies on the big screen and overlay it with hilarious commentary.

Geoff Wallis and Janet A McLeod do a great job introducing the film, giving us some background about why such a terrible film could be made, telling us about the actors – including Janet Leigh of Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ fame – which scenes to look out for and details to note (stripes stripes stripes everywhere). With judicious use of a laser pointer they highlight thematic incongruencies, bad acting and crappy special effects. In this case they included bad closeups of fluffy bunnies, lots of torn clothing with red paint thrown on them and long boring shots of helicopters flying.

For $20 a ticket and a choc top you’re guaranteed two hours of almost constant laugh-out-loud hilarity – pretty good odds considering some of the dire comedy shows I’ve paid to attend before.

Cinema Fiasco is a unique movie-going and comedy experience and the only time I’ll be happy that there’s someone talking the cinema. They are normally at home at the Astor Theatre but during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival they will be screening at Cinema Nova for a limited season. Don’t miss it!

Summer Season at Arts Centre Melbourne – Giveaway!

Hello summer!

Arts Centre Melbourne has a fantastic season of events lined up for the summer and I have 2 x double passes to give away for one of their highlight performances.

Blaze, an amazing street dance concert which premiered in London’s West End featuring 12 of the best streetdancers and breakers in the world, against a digital backdrop designed by Es Devlin, designer for Kanye West, Mika, Take That, Pet Shop Boys and Lady Gaga. On BLAZE performance days, the public spaces in and around Hamer Hall will also have free music, dance and street art performances as part of the Bring It! program. The 2 x double passes are for the performance on Wednesday 23 January 8pm.

To win all you have to do is leave a comment below. The two winners will be randomly selected and announced on Monday 14 January. Good luck!

PS if you’re a parent and want to go into the draw for cultural school holiday events then hop onto my family/parenting blog TOT: HOT OR NOT for a series of giveaways in the the next week.

The winners are Angelique and Ashley – an email has been sent to you both!

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HOT: Hairspray the Musical, Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne

I really enjoy going to see musicals but even with ample opportunity to see award-winning musical Hairspray both in Australia and overseas, for some reason I thought it was going to be too corny, too kitsch, for me to enjoy.

How wrong I was. I LOVED Hairspray. I can even safely say that it’s the best live performance I’ve seen in a recent memory. That includes Sydney Theatre Company’s Uncle Vanya (with Cate Blanchett, John Bell, Richard Roxborough, Hugo Weaving) and Bell Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night.

Hairspray is a big, bold and colourful show full of boppy, toe-tapping tunes. The dancing was sharp and joyous, the singing was superb, I liked the early 60s costuming and the interactive, cartoonish set and you could really tell that the performers loved their jobs. It touches on issues like discrimination, segregation and racism, but it’s never earnest – it’s 2.5 hours of rollicking good fun that will have you smiling and feeling good when you leave.

I’ve not seen the movie of the same name (starring John Travolta) but I can’t imagine it topping the magic of live theatre. Sometimes a cast is able to feed off the positive energy of the audience and I really felt this two-way communication at the matinee performance I attended. The love in the room was palpable and as the= performers took their bows you could see that they were moved by the emotion in the room. I really think the enthusiastic audience encouraged the cast to give 110% of themselves into their singing and dancing and it really made the performance special for me.

Particular mention must go to the pitch-perfect performance of Jaz Flowers as big-hearted lead character Tracy Turnblad.  The 22-year old from Gippsland has a story straight from A Star is Born – her professional debut was only in 2009 and Hairspray is her first lead role. She was charming, sweet and a girl with a big voice. A sensation.

One final note. The cheap seats are not bad seats in the Princess Theatre! I paid $50 (the cheapest seats) for a restricted view seat in the stalls (S11) and had a brilliant view. The pole obscured the tiniest bottom corner of the stage where none of the performers went and I could see pretty much the full set. It’s a bargain.

Read the reviews from The Age and Herald Sun.

HOT Chat: Pip Carroll of Melbourne Bikefest

Finally we’re experiencing some warmer weather in Melbourne – and have you noticed the increased number of cyclists these days?

It all bodes well for the upcoming Melbourne Bikefest, a 5 day festival being held at 1000 £ Bend which will celebrate all things cycling related in our city. Today’s HOT Chat is with Pip Carroll, the director of Melbourne Bikefest. Thanks Pip!

Pip, tell me a bit more about your background and what inspired you to start Melbourne Bikefest?

My background is pretty varied, I’ve been running a business called Ambiguous Horse since 2006 that specialises in management, marketing and producing for the arts and cultural industries. So I’m always working on something different. Ambiguous Horse, supported by a volunteer committee produced the Melbourne Bicycle Film Festival from 2007 to 2009.

Earlier this year we decided to branch out from the BFF and create a new event designed especially for Melbourne – and Melbourne Bikefest was born!

We wanted to celebrate and support an emerging bike culture in Melbourne, one that is less focused on sport and recreation and more interested in bikes as a means of daily transport, integrated into other parts of life. The more people that choose a bike over a car, the better the road conditions will be for everyone, including motorists. For people to choose to ride however they need to identify as bike riders, and through Bikefest we hope to create something more people can see themselves being a part of.

What is Melbourne Bikefest all about? What can visitors expect to see or experience?

Melbourne Bikefest is about celebrating bikes in everyday life. This doesn’t mean that you need to ride one everyday to enjoy it though! In fact there are only one or two events in the entire program that actually requite you to be on a bike. Most of the program is devoted to other cultural activities – art, design, music, fashion, shopping, forums, workshops, and advocacy projects. Bikefest really is more of a cultural festival about bikes than a ‘cycling’ event.

The majority of our activities are held right in the middle of the city at 1000 £ Bend. We will offer Bicycle Valet Parking for anyone that rides, but it’s a very easy place to get to via public transport. Over 5 days the space will host events and activities from morning to night, all against a backdrop of art and interactive installations. Plus a bar!

At the end of the day it’s really just about having a good time and giving people a glimpse of life on two wheels.

What is your one must-do recommendation for Melbourne Bikefest?

I’m always reluctant to choose just one thing! We’ve programmed Melbourne Bikefest so that you have the opportunity to experience several different activities all in the one visit. However I would say that the Bikefest Great Debate will be a night to remember, we’ve got together some amazing local comedians to put a light hearted spin on the argument that ‘Bikes are the best form of transport’. It features Charlie Pickering, Hannah Gadsby, Bart Freebairn, Lawrence Leung, Harley Breen, Andrew McClelland and is moderated by Josh Earl.

My other recommendation, for those that like to dress up (and who doesn’t?) would be the Melbourne Tweed Ride. Leaving from the State Library steps, it’s a slow cruise in salute to times gone by. Hopefully it will help redress some of the crimes against Lycra we see all too frequently on the streets of Melbourne.

Why do you like cycling, and particularly in Melbourne?

Wow I like riding a bike for so many reasons, where do I start? First up would have to be sense of freedom I get riding. If I have a frustrating day, chained to the desk, feeling like I’m not getting anywhere, stuck in the treadmill of life, riding home just unravels all of that immobility and delivers a palpable sense of achievement.

I’m also one of those people that has subconscious punctuality sabotage syndrome – I think I can get anywhere in 20 minutes. Thankfully on a bike in Melbourne it’s mostly true.

And do I need to mention the great things it does for your butt?

Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?

I like going to the Penny Farthing Espresso (206 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 2246). It’s just up the road from my house and has a welcoming and relaxed vibe. The coffee is good, the food uncomplicated and satisfying and they always seem to be exceptionally well staffed with polite and good-looking Gen Y employees. What more could you ask for?

Down the road is The Movie Reel (69 High Street, Westgarth +61 3 9486 8866). It’s a great old school DVD hire place that’s good for a bit of eavesdropping on a Friday night. They have an amazing range. I reviewed some bike movies last year and they had every title I asked for. Plus they don’t mind if you tell them the fine belongs to your ‘housemate’.

I’m partial to popping down to the Ceres Organic Market & Shop (Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East +61 3 9389 0100) on a Saturday morning. It’s a lovely ride down along the Merri Creek and it’s great to see the chickens that have laid the eggs you’re about to eat. There’s also something very satisfying about whipping your credit card out in the open air.

Also nearby is Fowlers Flowers (488 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9489 9114). It’s next door to another favourite café, Mixed Business (486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9486 1606). Their arrangements are simple and beautiful and inspire me to clean the house so the flowers have a more fitting backdrop.

Melbourne Bikefestt is being held from Wednesday 24 November to Sunday 28 November. CycleStyle is one of the sponsors – if you see me at any of the events or speaking on a forum, please come say hi! For more program information, click here.

HOT Chat: Owen Thomas of Hipside Guides

I liked the idea of Hipside Guides as soon as I heard about them – a city guide written by a local to help visitors and locals find the the cool, hidden places of Melbourne. Kind of like MEL: HOT OR NOT, in map form! Today’s HOT Chat is with Owen Thomas of Hipside Guides – thanks Owen!

Owen, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to start Hipside Guides?

I’m a relative newcomer to Melbourne, originally coming from London. I married an Australian and we moved here four years ago. One of the first things I looked for when we arrived (after an umbrella and sunglasses) was a guidemap, but none of the ones available met my requirements. So I decided to create my own.

It’s been a really fun way to get to know my new home city and I’m hoping it will also help other visitors and settlers, as well as any locals who want to explore beyond their usual neighbourhoods. It’s easy to take a place for granted when you’ve lived in it all your life, so a fresh perspective can never hurt.

In my previous life, I was a programmer and artist working on computer games, but strangely, map-making does seem to run in the family. One of my father’s first jobs was analysing aerial photographs for the air force and my brother is also a cartographer, mapping everything from wildlife to landmines.

What makes Hipside Guides different from other tourist maps or guides available about Melbourne?

There are mainly excellent books on Melbourne, but these days, who really has the time to read them? A good guidemap can give you an overview of a city in a fraction of the time and you also get a better impression of how everything fits together.

The Hipside Guides Melbourne Guidemap has a slightly hand-drawn look, making it visually very different from other maps that are available, but I’d say the main distinction is in its scope and level of detail. Most tourist maps cover just the CBD or a specific suburb, and don’t actually tell you much more than the location of the major museums and landmarks. At best, a few provide superficial ‘top ten’ type lists of the most popular bars, shops and restaurants. And of course, the free maps are either sponsored by the featured businesses or by local government, which has to affect impartiality to some degree.

The Hipside Guides Melbourne Guidemap covers the CBD, as well as a large part of the surrounding area. It features over 350 businesses and institutions, selected purely on merit. Alongside the usual, well-known destinations, I’ve made a point of including as many of the smaller, quirkier places as possible.

This isn’t a guidemap just about shopping and dining. Melbourne has a really fascinating history, which is clearly visible in its architecture and public artworks, so I’ve picked out the better examples and peppered the map with interesting facts, anecdotes and background stories.

With all its laneway hidey-holes, Melbourne is a city which really rewards those with the curiosity to explore, and that’s something I’ve tried to reflect in the guidemap. The intention was to create a deliberately sprawling and information-overloaded map, designed to be pored over and explored just like the city itself.

There are a lot of places on the map! How did you go about selecting which places to include in your guide?

I began with lots and lots and lots of walking. Then I walked some more. In Melbourne, you have to explore even the grottiest of laneways, because they often contain the best surprises. I try to never pass an open doorway or a shop without exploring inside and I’m sure I’ve sampled far more drinks and meals than is probably healthy. Yes, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

I’ve looked for places that are exceptional or at least unusual. It’s easy to forgive a few rough edges if a place has a unique charm or is offering something out of the ordinary.

Of course, all guides are ultimately subjective, but I’ve done my best to keep its appeal as broad as possible. It isn’t a guide just for tourists or hipsters or any other single group, but for anyone who wants to get an understanding of the city as a whole. I personally may have no interest in poetry bookshops (Collected Works) or spice merchants (Gewürzhaus), but they’re all part of what makes up Melbourne and I find it wonderful that such places exist.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced in starting up your own business? What advice would you give to a small business owner?

I think any independent publisher will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is getting exposure, so opportunities like this interview are really important.

Getting distribution into shops is also difficult, but at least people are getting more used to buying over the internet these days (you can get your copy from for $12.95 including free delivery).

As for advice to other business owners, I don’t think I’m qualified to give any just yet. Ask me again when I’ve sold my first million!

What are your next plans for Hipside Guides?

As soon as time allows, I want to expand the Hipside Guides website with more interactive features, more updates and maybe even a blog. And, in the long run, I’d like to apply Hipside Guides to other cities.

Finally, where are your HOT places to visit or things to do in Melbourne – maybe an entry that couldn’t fit into Hipside Guides?

The Butterfly Club is one of my favourite spots (204 Bank Street, South Melbourne +61 3 9690 2000). It’s a great little cabaret venue, but it’s also worth visiting just for a drink. From the outside it’s just another respectable-looking old house, but when you venture inside you find every available surface jam-packed with super-kitsch memorabilia. It’s one of the few places in Melbourne that can make even Madame Brussels look a bit on the timid side.

As far as shops go, Lost and Found is hard to beat (12 Smith St, Collingwood +61 3 9419 4477). It’s a real treasure trove of retro clothes, furniture, art and bric-a-brac. It’s a huge place – more of an indoor market than an individual store really – and it’s easy to lose a few hours searching through the all the racks and piles. You do tend to feel your age, though, when you discover your old toys in a vintage store.

One place that I couldn’t quite squeeze on to the map was New York Tomato (24/2-6 New St, Richmond +61 3 9429 0505). It’s a fantastic café, but it tends to be forgotten because it’s a little out of the way and simply because it’s no longer the new kid on the block.

If you really want to impress an overseas visitor, though, just take them to see the flying fox colony at the Bellbird Picnic Area in Yarra Bend Park. Australians barely notice their own wildlife, but to many foreigners a bat is a rare, mouse-sized creature that flits past in the dark and is gone, so the sight of 10,000 monster bats hanging out in broad daylight is quite mind-blowing.

HOT: Philip Escoffey, Six More Impossible Things to Do Before Dinner, Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

YAY for my first show of the Melbourne Fringe Festival – a two and a half week extravaganza of comedy, song, dance, cabaret, art and general wackiness.

Philip Escoffey is a well-known performer famous for his mind-reading skills, so I’m not entirely sure whether you’d consider his show Six More Impossible Things to Do Before Dinner ‘fringe’. Nevertheless, he’s playing in Melbourne after an extended season at Sydney Opera House and popular shows at the Edinburgh and Melbourne comedy festivals. If you haven’t had a chance to see him yet then I highly recommend that you grab a ticket for his two week season at the Arts Centre.

Let me say now that I do not believe in mind-reading, or psychic powers, or things like astrology, tarot cards or other forms of fortune telling. If you do believe in those concepts, then you’ll be captivated by Philip’s ability to guess seemingly random cards, shapes, words and colours. If you’re a sceptic, you’ll be highly entertained because you’ll spend the whole time twisting your mind, trying to decipher how he did it. In fact, when you type ‘Philip Escoffey’ into Google, one of the most popular suggested search terms is ‘Philip Escoffey how does he do it’ – seems that everyone is fascinated by the experience and wants to discover the methods behind his show.

RM and I are guessing that stooges are used, as well as marked objects and a practised ability to read body language tics. Whatever you think, I guarantee that you’ll come away from the theatre discussing the baffling 60 minutes you just witnessed.

NOT: Dangerous Melbourne, Next Wave Festival, Fitzroy Town Hall, 201 Napier St, Fitzroy

When I was reading through the Next Wave 2010 Festival program, the show Dangerous Melbourne caught my eye.

“Is living in Melbourne a danger to your a) health b) wealth c) safety d) sanity? Are you taking outrageous risks a) riding down Collins Street b) walking home at night c) just waking up every morning?

Fear not – help is at hand.

The Dangerous Melbourne community information evening will provide you with the things you need to know to survive the terrors of our fair city. Be informed, not alarmed. Cups of tea and biscuits also provided.”

It sounded like it could a humorous show which exposed the potentially irrational fears of Melburnians subjected to news  stories of increasing CBD violence, the bashing of Indian students and innocent pedestrians being run over by packs of hoon cyclists.

On entry into the lovely Fitzroy Town Hall we were ushered into an area and provided with the promised tea and biscuits. The actors were already in character, fussing over us to be careful with the hot water urn and making sure we didn’t leave our things in the path of others who might trip. Dangers everywhere!

We were then seated in alphabetical order and the slide show started. It began with a flip through about a dozen innocuous Melbourne landscapes – St Kilda beach, Bourke Street Mall, Collins Street etc. Not very dangerous, right? Wrong. Paula van Beek, the creator and performer of the show, then repeated through every slide pointing out all the hidden dangers we’d missed. Bad tan lines, skin cancer, credit card debt….all of which ended in death.

This was amusing for about three slides but then the repetitiveness of the death finale wasn’t very interesting anymore.

After that, I wasn’t sure in what direction the show could go as I felt that perhaps the slide show might have been the complete joke done in 5 minutes. Well, it transpired that the remaining 40 minutes were filled with banalities which had me contemplating my to-do list, imagining my dinner and plotting an escape route.

First of all, a recitation of statistics. Yes that’s exactly as interesting as it sounds. I don’t know whether the statistics were real or not (she had conducted a survey of 18-30 year old females for the show), but it was sleep-inducing.

Next up, listening to an answering machine with hard-to-hear recordings of people’s fears. Then we counted the number of cyclists we could spot in each slide. A bit of audience participation of repeating the five principles of safety.

I can’t even remember what other dull segments followed because everything was overshadowed by what I am calling the Alphabet of Fears. Yes, we sat in the dark, looked at some photographs of deserted parking spaces and windswept streets while a recording intoned an alphabetical list of genuine, existential and silly fears.  Armed robbery, acne, ambush, ants and so on of about 20 fears starting with A, and then B…..

Oh. My. God. I watched my life draining away as I came to realise that the alphabet had 26 letters and we were going to have to sit through every droning one of them.

If I hadn’t left my coat on the other side of the room I would have quite happily got up to leave.

All this was sort of in aid of the plot twist at the end. I’m not sure whether Dangerous Melbourne will get another outing at another festival but read on if you want to know about the twist. [Spoiler alert] Basically a piece of paper that we’d been instructed to write on for the last 45 minutes was actually an order form for the ultimate safety device – a balaclava with yellow reflective strips sewn on it. The whole presentation was a ruse to sell us some crappy gear! I couldn’t even rustle up a smile at that point as the ‘twist’ was obvious from a mile away and I really couldn’t wait to leave.

Perhaps with more thought and development Dangerous Melbourne could have been a quirky, humourous, out-of-the-box take on the culture of fear and the nanny state. In its current form, it was about as entertaining as tax accountant’s powerpoint presentation. Or did I miss something?

Thank you to Next Wave for inviting me to Dangerous Melbourne.

HOT: Sunburnt Country, Melbourne International Comedy Festival

I love having guests bloggers and today I’m handing over the hot seat to Gourmet Chick, a Melburnian currently living in London who still knows what’s hot and what’s not in Melbourne.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival starts soon on Wednesday 24 March until Sunday 18 April 2010, and if you’re a bit bamboozled by all the acts on offer, here’s Gourmet Chick‘s guest post on comedy cabaret show Sunburnt Country starring Rosa The Russian Beautician and Friends. Thanks Gourmet Chick!

She sings, dances and waxes.  She is Rosa the Russian Beautician played by Melbourne comedian Marney McQueen, who returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year with a new show, Sunburnt Country.  I caught a slightly different version of the show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival last year (where it won rave reviews) and found myself laughing so hard that my laughter turned into those snorting laughs that are highly embarassing.  Luckily I was spared public humiliation by the fact that everyone around me was also snorting with laughter.  What more can you ask for from a comedy show?

SUNBURNT COUNTRY by Marney McQueen Melbourne International Comedy Festival Melbourne Hot or Not review

Sunburnt Country is a comedy cabaret show where McQueen plays several characters, the well established Rosa the Russian Beautician  (who has her own Facebook fan club) along with four new characters: Karen Barnes a border security guard at Melbourne Airport, Annabel Sarah Victoria Winters-Smythe of Armadale Galleries, Damo Greggs an Australian recently returned from a life changing Contiki tour around Europe with a stopover in Bali and Raelene Dreggs a Gold Coast mother who’s daughter Shana is in jail in Bali after being found with ecstasy in her rollerskates at Denpasar Airport.

SUNBURNT COUNTRY by Marney McQueen Melbourne International Comedy Festival Melbourne Hot or Not review

I can’t vouch for the new characters but I can say that on the strength of Rosa the Russian Beautician alone this is one Comedy festival show that is well worth seeing.  Never have you seen a woman make a leopard print catsuit and a mullet look so attractive.  I left the show with a sore stomach from laughing and still singing “Honour Your Bikini”, Rosa’s signature song, in my head.

Catch Gourmet Chick‘s guest post next week when she heads to Naked Japan in Albert Park. In the meantime, check out Gourmet Chick‘s fabulous blog about food in London and around the world (including Melbourne) and follow Gourmet Chick on Twitter @msgourmetchick.

HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

I’m all for comfort food, opaque tights and scarves (I think it’s a reaction to growing up in sunny Queensland) – yay for Marvellous March!

Marvellous March is also the name of a handy little booklet produced by That’s Melbourne with details of the big events around Melbourne that will make you love autumn. This is a post to bookmark! Thanks to City of Melbourne, here are some highlights and photos:

Moomba Festival 2010
Melbourne’s largest outdoor community festival makes a vibrant return to the heart of the city. From the spectacle of the Moomba Parade to the hilarious Westpac Birdman Rally, from the wonder of the Children’s Garden to awesome live music, Moomba will surprise and delight Melburnians of all ages.  March 5 – 8. Alexandra Gardens & Birrarung Marr.

The 2010 Indian Film Festival – Bollywood And Beyond
All the colour, drama, music and romance of Bollywood comes to Melbourne for eight days.  ‘The Queen of Bollywood’ – multi award-winning actress Rani Mukherjee – will open festivities at Cinema Nova with the launch of her new film, the comedy musical “Dil Bole Hadippa.”   The festival will feature eight premiere screenings and an array of Meet the Maker events where Hindi filmmakers including Rajkumar Hirani (director of the highest grossing Hindi film of all time- 3 Idiots) and Imtiaz Ali (director of box office hits Jab We Met & Love Aaj Kal) will discuss their careers within the world’s biggest film industry. 10-17 March 2010.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
One of my favourite Melbourne festivals. The delicious 2010 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will see the city hosting a long lunch, a food-lover’s fiesta and drool-worthy master classes. Take yourself on a visual treasure hunt with the Feasting Vignettes, presented by the City of Melbourne, grab a sustainable nibble at the Metlink Edible Garden showcasing regional produce and relax with free Barilla Foodie Films. 12 – 23 March 2010.


L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival
The LMFF is a stylish showcase for established and up and coming fashion designers. Check out Sidewalk, a series of free runway presentations bringing Australia’s leading fashion brands on a spectacular inflatable fashion catwalk at Federation Square. 14 – 21 March 2010.

20th Melbourne Queer Film Festival
See the latest, greatest and most creative in queer feature films, documentaries and shorts at the 20th Melbourne Queer Film Festival. A $2,000 cash prize is also up for grabs for the winner of the City of Melbourne Award for Best Australian short film. 17 – 28 March 2010.

Antique3 (Large)

Thai Culture & Food Festival
Discover the wonderful secrets of Thai cooking, enjoy a gentle Thai massage and some traditional music and entertainment, and when you get hungry sample Thai food on the River Terrace at Federation Square – think green curry, fish cakes, pad thai, chicken basil and more. 21 March 2010.

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is the biggest annual flower and garden show in the southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. An impressive 500+ exhibitors will showcase the latest products and services at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. 24 – 28 March 2010.

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Melbourne International Comedy Festival
It’s the biggest festival Melbourne has to offer and last year just over half a million people laughed at the antics of some of the finest comedy performers in the world. Check out my reviews from last year’s festival. This year I’m  seeing Cardinal Burns and Tim Key. 24 March – 18 April 2010.

2010 FORMULA 1TM Australian Grand Prix
It’s the country’s premier motor sport event that brings together the world’s finest and flashiest cars, glamour, celebrities (including Miss Polonia, for some bizarre reason) and the rush of adrenalin as the world’s most skilful drivers tackle the Albert Park racetrack. 25 – 28 March 2010. 

Lonsdale Street Glendi Festival Festival
Melbourne’s large Greek community takes over the Lonsdale Street precinct to celebrate their history and culture. Sample souvlaki, sweet and sticky loukoumades (Greek donuts) and then burn off those calories in the Zorba ‘til You Drop dancing competition. 27 – 28 March 2010.

Also on in March – run, watch, sail, eat and listen:

Super Sunset Series – Docklands Dash!
Whether you run or walk register for the Super Sunset Series inaugural Docklands Dash. The fun run will wind its way through the  Docklands precinct at twilight on Wednesday 10 March.

Thread Den: The Designers Sessions
Learn how to style and sew in the relaxed sewing lounge and then create your own catwalk collection! You can read my review of the sewing classes at Thread Den here. 12 – 16 March 2010.

Poster affff 2010 V8 (Large)Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
The best of contemporary French film comes to Melbourne, from action, romance, comedy and animation to thrillers, children’s films and documentaries. It’s the largest foreign film festival in Australia and this year is expected to showcase a record number of films. 4 – 21 March 2010.

Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids
Last year 30,000 men, women and children pounded the streets of Melbourne to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Do your bit for the RCH in 2010 by walking or running across and through Melbourne landmarks such as the Bolte Bridge and Domain Tunnel. 14 March 2010.

Victoria Harbour School Sailing Series
Some of Melbourne’s most promising young sailors will hone their nautical skills as part of this popular sailing series. The eager school teams will crew two-person Pacer dingies during the high-energy, fast-paced racing event – all intent on winning the series and winning the chance to represent Victoria at the Australian Championships later in the year. To enjoy the nautical action head to Victoria Harbour 18 – 21 March 2010.

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra presents Profusion
Directed by William Hennessy and with guest soloist and soprano Sara Macliver, the MCO presents Profusion at the Melbourne Recital Centre at Southbank. The evening will feature classics by Dmitri Shostakovich, Jean Sibelius, Calvin Bowman and Gustav Mahler. 21 March 2010.

World Street Food Festival
To celebrate Melbourne’s love and appreciation of food from across the globe, Queen Victoria Market will host the colourful World Street Food Festival. Expect an array of cuisines from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Australia. Watch as the food is cooked in front of you, savour the smells, and treat your tastebuds to something new. 21 March 2010.

Melbourne International Dragon Boat Festival
The annual Melbourne International Dragon Boat Festival is a thrilling, colourful family-friendly event that celebrates everything that is great about this ancient sport. Watch the determined teams of more than 22 people battle it out for line honours on the Yarra River. 21 March 2010.

Opera in the Market
Fresh fruit and forklifts make way for elegant chandeliers and opera at Queen Victoria Market. Opera in the Market event gets underway again this year with appearances by talented artists such as young Soprano Tiffany Speight, and internationally acclaimed Tenor, Rosario La Spina. More than 150 voices and the 65-piece Melbourne Youth Orchestra also feature. 22 and 24 March 2010.

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Turkish Pazar Festival
Celebrate everything Turkish at this all day festival that showcases the best in Turkish dance, music, food and drink. Enjoy a traditional Turkish pancake or bread rings covered with crunchy sesame seeds, treat yourself to pretty handmade Turkish jewellery and ceramics and enjoy the distinctive sights and sounds of the many Turkish musicians and artists who support this annual event. 28 March 2010.

For a full list of Marvellous March events, click here.

HOT: Art v Smart Casual, Trades Hall, Cnr Victoria and Lygon Sts, Carlton

Music. Comedy. Musical Comedy. The greatest art form of all.

That was the premise of the two man singing and dancing extravaganza, Art v Smart Casual. Actually, it was brothers Roger David and Fletcher Jones (the latter hilariously nicknamed ‘Ginger Claus’ by the former) donning checked shirts and jeans and cracking jokes, impersonating animal noises and breaking out occasionally into song.

I think they could have upped the ante in terms of maintaining energy (more shouting, less mumbling) but some of the jokes had a lot of potential. I particularly liked their segment on ‘Avant-Garde’ (French for ‘I don’t know’), art appreciation (‘Wanna go to the pub?’ ‘Monet: No, I’m just gonna look at some water lillies’) and the song speculating about The Hawk, the love child of Stephen Hawkings and Jennifer Hawkins.