Justin Hamilton’s top 5
comedy venues in Melbourne
Comedian Justin Hamilton knows every corner of Melbourne’s comedy scene after a decade of performing stand-up.
He can recommend a top place for a laugh in Melbourne every night of the week, and his favourite haunts are listed below.
But this winter for a limited season, there’s a new comedy zone in town. Justin joins forces with some of the city’s finest comics at Crown’s Groove Live. Every Sunday night in June, a new crew of four comedians will do their thing (including big names like Dave Hughes, Adam Richard, Cal Wilson, Josh Earl, Adam Rozenbachs and Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann). Check out the line-up here. It’s a bargain at $12.
And for every other night of the week, here are Justin’s top 5 comedy venues…
1. Local Laughs
Mondays, 8.30pm at the Local Taphouse, 184 Carlisle St, St Kilda East, 9537 2633
One of the oldest comedy rooms currently in Melbourne, Local Laughs has been playing down at The Local Taphouse for what seems forever. I know because I was playing down there when I had less grey in my hair and hadn’t discovered the joys of overeating alone while watching new episodes of Mad Men. Janet McLeod runs this room and she controls the aesthetic of the comedy she produces to such an extent that when the Taphouse completely refurbished the comedy content remained the same. A great night for alternative comedians to rub up against more established acts. Please don’t take the metaphor too far and rub the comedians though. Most comics hate to be rubbed. Fact!
Tuesdays, 8.30pm at Pugss In Space, The Imperial Hotel, 2-8 Bourke Street, city, 9670 2278
There has been some great work produced at Puggs In Space and the night has even survived a change in venue. That is impressive because most comedy nights can’t survive a change in management but plucky Angela Thompson hitched up her little red wagon and took her show to where it would thrive at the Imperial Hotel. This night can attract an attractive audience so be careful if nice teeth, long legs and shirts that can barely contain muscles dazzle you easily. Not only does it have a kicking night of comedy but it was also one of the best venues for alternative comics during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Puggs is a fun room to perform in and a great room to watch comedy.
3. Public Bar
Wednesdays, 8.30pm, Public Bar, 238 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, 9329 9888
Wednesday nights find us down at the Public Bar, an old school room that reminds me of the days when I used to travel over from Adelaide to gig back in the late 90s. Sticky floors and the smell of Tim Rogers would permeate the venues and inspire you to get your hands dirty to make the gig work. I love the size of the room and every night is packed with smart women and men who like to hang out with smart women. It is a tight show and ridiculously cheap at $5. Steele Saunders opened this room recently and every comedian I spoke to said it was one of their favourite rooms after their first gig there. Impressive!
Thursdays, 8.30pm, Five Boroughs, 68 Hardware Lane, city, 9642 1341
Big Karl Chandler has done a great job with Thursday nights, making the comedy at Five Boroughs a must see. You know a room is kicking goals when punters come from interstate to see you perform in that particular venue. That has happened to me. Once. Once is impressive considering he’d come from Darwin. I hear that takes up a lot of your Myki card but only if you forget to touch off at the airport. Karl does a great job of providing spots for up-and-coming comedians while booking some of the best acts in the country. You can never underestimate how invaluable it is to rub shoulders with the best especially when you’re starting out. Also the drops-in acts are legendary. Just ask Geraldine Hickey about her Sarah Silverman experience there.
Most nights at 8.30pm, The Comic’s Lounge, 26 Errol St, North Melbourne, 9348 9488
It doesn’t get any bigger than this in Melbourne and Australia. The lads at the Lounge consistently pack their rooms especially over the weekend. If any of the characters from Game of Thrones had to amass a small army they could easily do so by kicking arse in front of 500 people in a five-minute spot at the Lounge and then leading the fired up audience to victory. This is the closest to performing in a stadium that most comedians will ever experience and it is the crème de la crème of big gigs. You can also order crème de la crème in one of your fancy drinks at the bar but be careful, I hear they can make you lose your inhibitions and you may want to talk to the acts onstage. Drink the drinks wisely, sit back in the dark and see some of the best acts from Australia and abroad strutting their stuff. Get in early though because it will sell out over the weekend.
See Justin at the Groove Live on June 29 with Lawrence Mooney, Mick Nevin and Anne Edmonds.