HOT: Mark Watson, All The Thoughts I’ve Had Since I Was Born, Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr Swanston and Collins Sts, Melbourne

Sometimes, quantity does equal quality. UK comedian Mark Watson sold out his 7:15pm session at the Main Hall of the Melbourne Town Hall, and with good reason as his show was the best act we saw in this year’s festival. It wasn’t pee-your-pants-funny, wow-that’s-so-clever-funny or that’s-really-cute-funny, but pretty much straight-down-the-line-stand-up from a likeable guy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

NOT: Andrew Lawrence – My Contemptible Life in a Gutter of Abject Desolation, Vic’s Bar, Victoria Hotel, 215 Little Collins St, Melbourne 3000

The title of Andrew Lawrence’s show really said it all – it was an hour of twisted, pessimistic comedy. That’s not to say that it wasn’t funny – RM and I decided that it was moderately funny, in that we didn’t feel like we’d been ripped off by paying $20 a ticket, but it’s not like I was peeing my pants or marvelling at his cleverness, and it’s not a show that I would recommend to others. As RM said, perhaps he’d be funnier in the UK, where the audience would be more likely to be right into misery humour.

NOT: Big Laugh Out, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Federation Square, Melb

Things that are not comedy:

1. Repeatedly asking someone their name.
2. Any form of mass audience participation (except cheering), especially hand clapping games.
3. Dressing up in a paper mache whale costume.
4. Squealing ear-piercing whale sounds over a microphone at Federation Square.
5. Chanting ‘dum de dum de dum de dum’ over and over and over again while dressed up as Alice in Wonderland.

Just because it’s family comedy doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to be not funny! Some of the acts in the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Big Laugh Out were so dire that RM declared it ‘worst comedy ever’. At least it was free.

HOT: Russell Kane – Gaping Flaws, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Roxanne, 2 Coverlid Place, Melbourne 3000

Russell Kane is the UK’s latest bright young comedy talent debuting at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. While he was pretty funny, his inexperience still shows and a week later I can’t remember any of his jokes. He spent most of the time pacing the stage and delivering rapid fire quips, but there were definite lulls in the energy where you could just see the audience waiting, waiting, waiting for a punchline. Granted our session was only his second performance, so maybe he’s warmed up by now.