Sydney Comedy Festival Gala 2023

Joseph Lloyd
26th Apr 2023

It’s one of the most anticipated events at this time of year taking place at two venues over multiple days. The Sydney Comedy Festival Gala at Sydney Opera House was a smorgasboard of events assembling a selection of the 250 local and international acts performing at the State Theatre, Enmore Theatre, The Concourse Chatswood and Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.

Last night’s selection was predominantly an international curation giving indecisive punters or novice comedy lovers a taste of what to expect in this year’s shows. Sydney Comedy Festival has been the launch pad for many Australian names in comedy including Ronny Cheng, Rhys Nicholson, Matt Okine and Corey White to name a few and this year, the expectations for the up and coming performers slated to appear have been set high.

The performers brought a variety of styles and approaches to their comedy, making for a diverse and entertaining show and the final lineup was hush hush right up until the curtain went up in the Concert Hall auditorium.

Reuben Kaye, fresh from his controversial March appearance on The Project after the Jesus-Sex joke that broke the internet, opened the show with sass and attitude before a finale of face-thrusting irrumation and possible sexual harrassment of an audience member he threw himself on. Sara Pascoe then took the stage as compere reminding us how lovable she is and if its the softer self-aware humor in looking at flaws of the human condition you are after, this might be the comedian for you. Her introductions and bits have evolved similarly to the way Ed Byrne and Mark Watson’s has (who closed the show) - moving on from her fear of facial hair and exploring sexy lingerie to the trials and tribulations of parenting. She announced to the audience she was pregnant with her second baby. Becky Lucas - admitted she spent the day boozing up during ANZAC day celebrations and wasn’t at her best with a few gasps from the stalls behind us during her suicide jokes. But it wasn’t completely out of character, as she’s always been obsessed with crime and murder podcasts but it was missing that balance she brings to her shows when trying on that dark material on audiences. Michelle Brasier blends strong Grammy worthy vocals in parody music and originals critising Generation Z. Complementing the music comedy is Leo Reich who gives us insight into the dating world and challenges of today’s gay man. Chris Ryan finds laughs through self criticism and insecurities in a way that empowers through a confident demeanor in her themes of ageing gracefully.

Schalk Bezuidenhout creates relatable and engaging humor drawing from his experiences growing up in South Africa. While Ismo, from Finland does something similar with a more eccentric approach.


Larry Dean explored the “welcome to country’ and ‘acknowledgement of country’ ceremonies through the eyes of a gay Scottish man with some harsh truths couched in stomach belching laughter. The point he tried to make was confronting but hilariously true!

Moses Storm - Naturally funny, he finds humour in everyday life situations which many of the younger audiences will gravitate towards.

Is Troy Hawke’s voice and inflection that of his own? At times it felt like a character he was playing, yet somehow naturally charming, quirky, and absurd dressed in a suit and tie delivering witty and intelligent anecdotes in a posh accent.

Joe Avati observes and jokes about the world through the lense of Generation X while dancing with subject matter with racial undertones finding hilarious moments like those we have all experienced with “Indian Uber Drivers”. Why are they always on the phone? And who are they talking to? Turns out, according to him, they’re working the Vodafone Customer service call centre remotely while carting us around the city in their uber vehicles!

Nemr is a hilarious American Lebanese man who finds humour in cultural differences. If you haven’t seen his act about the day his father told him about Santa Clause, do yourself a favor and Youtube that clip. That will give you a feel of what to expect as he tours nationally before heading to Abu Dhabi.

Stephen K Amos has a regal and assertive demeanor that blends sarcasm with quick one liners touching on politics, culture, identity and relationships truely representing the epitome of what the Sydney Comedy Festival is about. His delivery and charisma is one of a kind.

Based on the selection, one of the great things about comedy are the opportunities and dialogues that can be created by touching on subjects that are impossible in normal conversation.