• arts & culture

22 March 2016

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival celebrates its 30th birthday bringing with it more than 2,000 artists and 530 shows catering to all tastes and all ages.

Launched in 1987 by comedy greats Peter Cook and Barry Humphries (as Sir Les Patterson), the Melbourne International Comedy Festival commenced with little more than 50 shows in noted comedy venues around the CBD. It is now one of the world's largest and most respected comedy festivals.

The first festival included acts such as Gina Riley, Doug Anthony All Stars, The Found Objects, a trio of teenagers including Colin Lane and Frank Woodley, and Rod Quantock – who has gone on to perform in every festival since.

Thirty years on, the Comedy Festival attracts more than 770,000 people over three and a half weeks, generating millions for the Victorian economy.

Beyond the annual event, the Comedy Festival team works year round, touring nationally and internationally. The festival fosters the next generation of comedy talent with programs such as RAW Comedy, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program Deadly Funny, and schools program Class Clowns.

This year's anniversary program includes a '30th Birthday Bash' gala with a line-up of comedians that have been part of the festival's history.  A series of live panel discussions and the free anniversary exhibition Humour Us, at Arts Centre Melbourne, will highlight comedians and moments that have shaped the festival.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs 23 March – 17 April 2016.

View the full program online