Comedy and Science in Melbourne

Australian comedy may be a risky business — didn’t they give us both Yahoo Serious and Barry Humphries?1 — but in case you want to chance it, I’ve been informed by Ben McKenzie, The Man in the Lab Coat, that he’ll be doing a comedy lecture show about science this April.


Here’s a cool thing: he has offered me comp tickets for the opening week. Since nobody is standing up to offer me comp flight tickets to Australia, or comp teaching stand-in to cover my classes while I’m away, he has said I can pass them on to any interested readers who might be willing to travel to Melbourne (surely there can’t be any readers who actually live anywhere near Melbourne, can there?). I’ll give them away2 to anyone willing to take them who will also send me a summary of the event — just sing out in the comments.

If you want to know more first, here’s the description and listing for the show.

1I know, an American has no right to mock, since we gave the world both Carrot-Top and Pauly Shore.

2The first Pharyngula Give-Away with Prizes! I should have invented a better contest.


  1. From Melbourne says

    Considering the number of Australians who make comments, I think (surely there can’t be any readers who actually live anywhere near Melbourne, can there?). is probably a little optimistic.

  2. chuko says

    There must be somebody in Melbourne. I’m in Buenos Aires – the predominant language is still English there.

  3. O-dot-O says

    About the photo… I think I would have used a large test tube instead of a flask.

  4. says

    I saw this guy last year, he is awesome.

    Alas, I am a poor student and can’t afford to get my arse to melbourne anytime soon (I’m in adelaide, it’s a good 8 hour drive if you have the petrol for it)

    Although if it gets closer to april and noones taken them I might be willing to give hitchhiking a try.

  5. says

    Well, I’m in Adelaide and Melbourne’s only about 600 km away. I wouldn’t mind popping down there for a few days and taking in a show. In Australia 600 km isn’t a huge distance to travel. If no one closer wants to use the tickets I’ll gladly take them off your hands and write you a review. Even without the tickets I might go anyway.

  6. says

    It’s four years since I last went to Trades Hall (for a conference on West Papua) so if you don’t get anybody more enthusiastic, I guess I owe Pharyngula enough to be willing to take up the invitation and write it up in my usual indecipherable style.

    Time zones may be one reason there has not been a flood of responses. Not everybody can check their feeds at 9:30 am on a Thursday, so don’t be surprised if there aren’t some more motivated offers later in our day.

  7. David Hodson says

    Another Melbourne reader right here! And don’t complain about Australian comedians – I believe the Melbourne comedy festival is the second largest in the world, and it’s not all imported talent.

  8. QrazyQat says

    Shore and the Top? small change… Until Australia gives the world a Bruce Tinsley and a Dennis Miller we mock at our own peril.

  9. says

    I’m probably welcoming extreme social stigma here, but I…

    …think Carrot Top is kinda funny.

    There, I said it. You now have my permission to throw rotten tomatoes at me.

  10. says

    Yet another Melbourne reader here, who greatly admires P.Z.’s style, class and cynicism.

    Who got the tickets in the end? (throwing hat into ring)

    I love the Melbourne comedy festival, and I would highly recommend the shows of Rod Quantock, Andrew McClelland, Laurence Leung and Wil Anderson.

  11. says

    And I’m amazed at the optimist who thinks that Adelaid is 600 km from Melbourne. As someone who made that drive twice a year with his family as a young lad, the distance is over 900 km, and was the source of many a fun time.

  12. says

    Adelaide is about 600 km from Melbourne, but not if you want to use roads. I’m under the impression that Americans fly a lot and so I gave the distance as the crow flys.

  13. Stogoe says

    If I weren’t stuck halfway between the American coasts right now, I’d suggest a Pharynguloids Meet-up(Australia Chapter).

  14. Paguroidea says

    The show looks great. I wonder if he ever comes to the U.S. I’d buy tickets to see him!

  15. davidp says

    I guess I’m too late for the tickets and task. I live 4.5km (3 miles) from Trades Hall and would love the job. As a bonus, I’ll cycle there – CO2 neutral reporting.
    Melbourne has about 4 million people, and lots of pharyngula readers.

  16. Yoyo says

    As a mebournian reader, I’d love to accept. it would make a wonderful change from the bread and circuses currently thrown at us by our government including a massively over funded formula 1 race and an international swimming thing. You can see the priority arts and science receive here!

  17. says

    We have internet access in Melbourne. Fancy that. Anyway, looks like an interesting show. If you’re giving away tickets, I’ll take em.

  18. says

    I think PZ’s assertion about ‘no’ Melbourne readers is now going the way of Paris Hilton’s dignity…

    And I’d put Melbourne’s Comedy Festival with Edinburgh’s and Montreal in the top bracket.

  19. says

    Looks like I’m too late for the free tickets… darn.

    But I’m stunned by the number of Pharyngula readers in quiet, sleepy little Melbourne. Should there be a PZ fan club meeting on Lygon Street after one of the shows or something?

  20. BlackDouglas says

    Lygon St eh #27. And who will you be acting out, Mick or Benji?
    never mind; having a science background myself I would love to see the show. like and earlier poster I am ready to cycle the distance – about 5ks for me.
    And isn’t the phrase “Paris Hilton’s digity” an oxymoron?

  21. says

    Damn I left Australia 2 months ago to live in America. I’ll fly back…. Melbourne rocks.
    Give it to the Melbournites, they need something to help them though the rain ;p

  22. says

    Oooooooh!!! ME!! ME!! PICK ME!!!

    Oh it’s only for Australian commenters just like me, wait I’m just like me! PICK ME!!

    *girly screams*


    I’d love to go to Melbourne International Comedy Festival, all I get is the travelling sideshow when it comes to Rockhampton.

    I’d definitely do a write up. Though like most in personal life events I blog, it will probably be about two weeks after the event.

    Do I get brownie points for being born in Melbourne?

    I wonder what sort of showdown PZ has planned for us Aussies?

    I hope it doesn’t involve squid, I’m allergic … (Oh nutso I’ve just ruined my chances haven’t I?)

  23. says

    Expatriates will be astonished to learn that it doesn’t rain in Melbourne any more. Seriously. I moved into a house with a leaking roof, but I didn’t realise it for three months because that’s how long it took to rain.

    If the drought keeps up much longer we’ll run out of drinking water.

  24. says

    Hrrmph – Melbourne resident here too – not born, but I did do my PhD at Monash in the Dark Ages.

  25. Jim says

    Well since all Melbournites are outing themselves, I’ll do it too.

    PZ – don’t make the mistake many Americans do about Australia in thinking we’re all backwoodspeople.

    True there aren’t many of us but most of us (~85%) all crowd into 5 large cities. The odds of any given one of your Australian readers coming from the Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane/Adelaide/Perth axis ( The dreaded “Axis of Suburbia” perhaps?) are quite high.

    Unfortunately, I can’t take up your offer because I don’t think I’ll be there when the show is on. Nice offer though – thanks.

  26. Dale says

    Coz, you callous thing you. Melbourne hasn’t had serious rain for years!

    Yes, another Melbournite outing himself.

    …and free tickets sounds good. I’ll put my hand up, but I think I’m about 4th in line now.

  27. Wobert says

    Well I live half way between Melbourne and Adelaide,4.5 hours to both.Funny thing is every time I go to either they seem to start 5 to 10 k’s closer than the previous time.I also live half way between the two far more important places of Kinimakatka and Propodollah.And smack bang in the middle of all four is Nhill {pronounced Nil} and there’s fuck all here.

  28. Joe says

    You didn’t give the world Carrot-Top – outside the US he’s known chiefly as a slightly baffling cultural reference in US sitcoms…

  29. SeanC says

    The part of the Axis of Oz that I call home, Brisbane, is only a couple of days’ drive from Melbourne, but since I’m in London I guess I’ll have to settle for combing YouTube.

  30. says

    Wow, what a coincidence, as this is happening right at the same time as the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne. I’ll be there speaking, but I guess I’d better go to the show as well, and bring fellow science journalists. (They like to laugh almost as much as they like to drink.) More info on the conference here:

  31. Nat says

    I nominate Elise Jones, the probably underpaid Editor for the Australian Rationalist magazine. She’s a Melbournian.

  32. Les says

    Also live in Melbourne (well a burb about 45 minutes south east of the Grand Old Dame that is Melbourne).

    If there are any left, tickets that is, I’ll have one :-)

    Facts about Melbourne:

    1. We are famous for our changeable weather but have been in drought for more then 6 years.
    2. People from Sydney like to believe that it rains more in Melbourne than Sydney but on average, Sydney receives twice the rainfall that Melbourne does.
    3. According to Google Earth, Melbourne is 775km from Adelaide and should take you 10 hours and 11 minutes by car.
  33. says

    Hey, Wobert, judging by the other responses, Nhill sounds like the perfect location for a Pharynguloid get together, maybe next time I’m passing through, or whenever. I’m always up for a trip as far as Horsham/Dimboola anyway, though not by bicycle.

  34. Keith Harwood says

    When I lived in Melbourne it was the only place in Australia where the farmers could claim flood relief and drought relief on the same day.

    And yes, there is nothing at Nhill, but with a name like that, what else could you expect?

    But the big question is: who are Carrot Top and Pauly Shore?

  35. the amazing kim says

    Oh don’t remind me of my beloved Comedy Festival.
    I moved from Melbourne to Brisbane to live about 3 weeks ago, and won’t be able to make it down this year for the event. Though I’ll urge everyone to go see Justin Hamilton (“the funniest man in Australia”), and in the meantime, visit The Local in St Kilda every Monday night for a good comedic line-up. Gosh I miss stand-up.

  36. says

    Hey PZ,
    It looks like the Aussies have taken over your blog and they’re not about to leave.

    BTW, I’m another aussie reader, in Brisbane, via Adelaide.

  37. says

    Well, yeah…I’m a little surprised.

    I’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away, and Ronald Brak and Tony Smith were the first to speak up, but neither sounded definite about going. Let me know if you two want them for sure, and if not, I’ll move down the list.

  38. says

    Thanks a lot for the offer of the tickets, PZ. I really appreciate it, but in my original post I did say I’d only take them if nobody closer wanted them and so I’ll turn down your kind offer. Of course this means that I can’t take Ash with me. Sorry about that, Ash! But if I decide to go anyway, Ash, you can always come with me and I’ll spring for a ticket for you since I’m so disgustingly rich. (Of course that goes for you too, PZ, if it turns out that you actually can come.)

  39. says

    I just checked my roster and I can go on the 4th. With pen and paper, of course.

    I may not be top of the list, BUT I have left three comments. That counts for something, right? Right?

  40. says

    There are clearly some others more in need of one more laugh than I am, even if I really should be trying to take more notice of comedy’s role as the preferred information source of the younger generation.

    So please pass them to somebody who has shown more enthusiasm.

    However the number of respondents here suggests we might have critical mass for a Pharyngula Meetup in Melbourne (or Nhill) but on checking Meetup it seems they don’t yet have Pharyngula Meetups anywhere.

    Should we give it a try?

  41. Wobert says

    Just north of Nhill is a little place called Netherby,not the end of the world but you can see it from there.Netherby comprises of 1 pub, 1 hall,1 fireshed,1 ex sporting ground,1 ex church,1 soon to be ex school,1 dead silo and several houses with a population of about a dozen. Bit like Lonesome Dove without the sporting girl.

    At the risk of getting PZ offside,the Netherby pub experience is truly spiritual, many from away have returned to try to piece together the details of their initial pilgrimage.Many have awoken weeks later with still no knowledge of the events of either journey, but an overwhelming feeling of the spirituality of the Netherby pub.

    The Netherby community, like all isolated species has evolved differently than other species, and have developed the astute ability to split a noun with an adjective. Examples of this are emfuckinguse or kangafuckingroo. And they are truly egalitarian, they use this kind of language in front of male and female and anybody else,so dont be offended if your a bit sensitive,it comes natural to them.Plus, you probably wont remember any way.

    We have been blessed in Nhill a month or two ago. For a period of several weeks on Sunday arvos, we had our very own creationists, not overun with business mind you, but I actually took this as a personal affront.I had it in my little mind to go down and give them a total payout.On the weekend in question I had a Netherby experience and never woke up until Monday. I’ve actually had a talk to our school principal about this crap and we dont have a problem…. yet.

    Pharyngula meetups, road to Netherby, road to Nhill,I’ll save up for a road to Morris

  42. davidp says

    I tried to go to this show last night, but it was sold out. I guess that’s a good sign.