Does the Melbourne Comedy Festival rate on the world stage?

7 April 2015

Sometimes, down under in Ostraya, we can have a bit of an insecurity complex. We're a small pond of fish, a long way from the vast cosmopolitan sea of the world. And sometimes we're not sure – are we good enough?

When the promoters of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival tell us that it's a world-class festival – should we believe them? Does the festival rate?

Well, from our round up of comedy festivals around the world, Melbourne's actually rates surprisingly well. We do ok. Yay! Go us!

The World's Best Comedy Festivals

We reckon it's a great idea to time your visit to a city to coincide with a comedy festival – the city is a peacock out on show, the people are on the streets en masse, having fun. Good times. Here's our round up of nine of the world's best comedy festivals – and the cities that they are held in.

Edinburgh Fringe

It's the 'world's largest arts festival' – and Edinburgh Fringe is the benchmark of comedy success. If your show makes it in Edinburgh, it'll make it anywhere. Just ask Australian musical-political-comedy-legend/genius Tim Minchin, whose show,'Darkside', won the Perrier Best Newcomer award in 2005 at Edinburgh. Career = skyrocket. Mr Minchin has never looked back.

If you're in Edinburgh for the Fringe, you'll find the city is completely overwhelmed by the festival. It's on everywhere at all times and there's a party atmosphere right across the city. In between show-hopping, try to make time to walk up to Arthurs Seat for views over the city and to knock back your share of the Scottish national beverage – whisky, of course.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 7-31 August 2015

Just for Laughs Montreal

Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy festival is perhaps the most prestigious world comedy event. It's an invite-only festival, so there's plenty of status attached to performing at Montreal. A lot of the shows feature line-ups of comedians – maybe three or four people doing a 15 minute set each – so you get to see a great cross section of comedy from a single show. But getting a ticket can be a competitive business as most shows are sell outs.

Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world (behind Paris) and it's a lively and vibrant cultural and foodie city. While you are there, take a walk through the beautiful Botanical Gardens and the nearby Biodome, where you can take a stroll through four different ecosystems. After post-show drinks at the hip bars of Old Montreal, try a plate of the local hangover cure, Poutine. (It's fries covered with gravy and cheese curds. It's better than it sounds.)

Just for Laughs, Montreal, 8-28 July 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

The MICF is Australia's biggest cultural event. It's truly huge. Over 2000 artists performs at over 100 venues across the city, and everyone is out to see them. It's an open-access event, which means that anyone can prepare a show, book a venue and be part of the festival. This leads to stacks of shows, so there's always tickets available to something. It also means that unheard of acts of brilliance can break through from nowhere – something that can't really happen at the other two big festivals.

While you are in Melbourne for the festival, take yourself on a city street-art walking tour and coffee-crawl. All that hectic-strong coffee will get you ready for an eight-show back-to-back comedy endurance marathon. Do it. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 25 March 19 April 2015

New York Comedy Festival

New York brings its own brand of cool to its comedy festival. There are big name performers galore and plenty of glitzy PR. With over 60 shows scattered across the five boroughs of NYC, you can explore the city as you show-hop. Don't forget to have an insanely good burger and shake at Shake Shack. And walk in your undies through Times Square like Michael Keaton in Birdman. Just because you can.

New York Comedy Festival, 10-15 November 2015

Funny Fest Calgary

Funny Fest bills itself as 'Western Canada's biggest comedy festival'. It sounds a bit lame really, they should have gone with a different marketing tack. (Like “the universe's most amazing comedy festival that is in Calgary”). But it must be annoying to have to compete with Montreal's massive festival. (Glasgow must have the same problem with Edinburgh.)

Anyway, while you are at 'Canada's Second Biggest and Lesser-Known Comedy Festival', take in the sights. The white peaks of the Rockies loom up behind Calgary – once you've had your fill of laughs, head into the mountains for some spectacular Canadian scenery.

Funny Fest, Calgary Comedy Festival, 28 May 7 June 2015

Glasgow International Comedy Festival

Glasgow claims they are 'Europe's largest comedy festival', nicely side-stepping Edinburgh's cultural festival altogether. Festival size competitions aside, the Glasgow festival is huge and happening. There's a solid slew of Scottish comedians alongside the internationals, and the festival sprawls over 18 days.

Visit Scotland's largest city, take in the vibrant cultural scene and sample some of the delicious Indian food on offer. (Yes, Indian. We are suggesting you skip the Scottish deep-fried Mars bar and the local bright orange soft drink icon, Irn-Bru. If you value your health.)

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, 12-29 March 2015

Cologne Comedy Festival

Much as we'd like to tell you about this festival, no-one here has actually been to it and all the PR is in German. So you're on your own. We do know there's more than 100 shows in 20 venues around the city and there are plenty of multi-lingual performances so you wont have to sit there smiling vaguely listening to jokes in German.

Cologne is a beautiful city of spectacular medieval churches, traditional neighbourhoods, interesting museums and lovely parks, all set along the wide Rhine River. Traditional German fare is the order of the day, so expect hearty sausages, potatoes and cabbage in various formats and combinations.

Cologne Comedy Festival, 15-31 October 2015

Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival

It's already been on this year, bigger than ever before. Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival is a pretty fun affair, with over 600 events across Leicestershire, England. Their big-name line-up reads like a list of all the panelists that have ever been on QI. If English comedy is your cup of English Breakfast tea, get to Leicester.

Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival, 3-21 February 2016

Hong Kong International Comedy Festival

Comedy has officially taken off in Asia and the Hong Kong festival is growing each year. And the $40,000 grand prize must certainly help haul in the international comedians. While in Honkers, consider a walking and foodie tour – explore the city and get in touch with genuine Chinese food. Perhaps knock back a 1000 year old egg, some birds nest soup (made with bird spit) or perhaps a little bowl of rice with sea slugs.

Hong Kong International Comedy Festival, 3-26 September 2015