Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

No Joke: The rise of Comedy ACT in Canberra

Beatrice Smith

Everyone loves a laugh – no one more so than the team at Comedy ACT who are celebrating their sixth year as Canberra’s premier live comedy organisation. Beatrice Smith chatted with Dave from Comedy ACT about the past, present and future of the organisation; funny memories; and his favourite jokes across six years of laughs.

Beatrice: How has Comedy ACT grown over the past five years?

Dave: Comedy Club at The Civic Pub has just turned six. In those six years, club and pub comedy in Canberra has grown from a sporadic single RAW Comedy heat and the occasional Green Faces ACT heat into five or six quality gigs a month.

The Canberra Theatre has always been here with national and international touring comedians, but the local scene was unorganised. That’s when Comedy ACT was formed; a bunch of Canberra comedians who had the forethought to work collectively got it going. Money was pooled and a website pulled together. The Civic Pub was generous to give a monthly Comedy Club night a shot in its upstairs function room, and we’ve been here ever since.

Without Comedy ACT, the Canberra Comedy Festival would never have even been thought of, let alone become the success it has become. Comedians who started in Canberra who have moved interstate for more success include Daniel Connell, The Stevenson Experience and Toby Halligan who now is a writer on the Ten Networks The Project.

Comedian Adam Rozenbachs will be hosted by Comedy ACT in

Comedian Adam Rozenbachs will be hosted by Comedy ACT on the 26th of June at UniPub in Civic

What does Comedy ACT do for local comedians?

Comedy ACT provides collective opportunity to the comedians that are members by coming together to help each other. Experienced comedians run courses and workshops: room runners help each rather than be territorial or selfish.

Comedy ACT helped the truly unique Dayne Rathbone develop and become the National RAW Comedy winner in 2011. When Dayne popped up, his potential was identified and senior members assisted him.

More success means more opportunity for comedians to get up in front of people and make them laugh.

What is Comedy ACT’s role in the community?

Comedy ACT takes all of those annoying people who crave attention and give them a place to go and let that energy out. Jokes aside, Comedy ACT is helping Canberra to be that great place to live. You can go and watch great comedians for the same price as a movie ticket, and these are a mix of great local and up and coming interstate comedians. Big names to grace the Civic Pub include Matt Okine from JJJ breakfast and of ABC Agony Uncle, Dave O’Neill.

Tell us a funny story from Comedy ACT’s history!

This year, the March Comedy Club had the musical duo Smart Casual booked. Sold out in advance, the boys called to say they are stuck in a traffic jam on the Federal highway and hadn’t moved in an hour. Rumours flew around that it was an escaped prisoner and the police had locked down the highway. So we had a sold out show without the main act. Even the former Treasurer Wayne Swan has bought tickets, so we were in a bind.

Luckily, Tim Duck – man of action – makes a couple of phone calls and local comedy legends Hamish Hudson and Tom Gibson step in at no notice and put on an amazing memorable show.

Canberra comedian Jacques Barrett

Comedian Jacques Barrett will be hosted by Comedy ACT in mid-July

What kind of people attend Comedy ACT’s shows?

The stereotype of pub or club comedy is drunk blokes and expletive laden comedians. This cannot be further from the truth.

Young and old come, mostly couples and groups of ladies on a night out. The local Canberra meet-up group are always the front couple of rows. We have noticed that women mostly buy the tickets (they tend to be more organised).
We are always told by visiting Comedians that our audience is smart and up for a laugh and the Canberra rooms are the best in the country.

What events does Comedy ACT have coming up?

So many gigs… You can go to a gig or two every week around town (some of the super fans do).

Comedy ACT is expanding and a new comedy night is opening at the Uni Pub on London circuit, a short walk from the City and New Acton. It’s a nice room that will showcase big acts with Adam Rozenbachs in June, former Spicks and Specs host Josh Earl in August, and comedy legend Bob Franklin in September.

The Civic Pub in Braddon will feature Canberra Comedy star Tom Gibson in early July, and then rising national star Jacques Barrett returns to Canberra with his Festival show “The Confident Profiler” in mid July. Then in August, winner of the Melbourne Comedy Festival Golden Gibbo award Laura Davis will headline.

Comedy ACT will host Troy Kinne (Star of Kinne from 7mate) on his national tour in September.

The Bunker at Charnwood features Joel Ozborn and there are loads of other gigs around the place.

Spicks and Specs host Josh Earl

Former Spicks and Specs host Josh Earl will be hosted by Comedy ACT in August

What is your favourite joke?

Quite a question to ask (too many jokes!) but I will share someone else’s, a Jimmy Carr effort he calls the shortest joke, which is simply “Dwarf Shortage”. I also like a Stevenson Experience song entitled “Everything I know about women.”

How can people find out more about Comedy ACT?

We have a website, on which you can sign up to the mailing list and our Facebook page

There are of course Facebook pages for the Uni and Civic Pub comedy rooms and

Feature image: Comedian Tom Gibson who will be hosted by Comedy ACT in early July. Photos courtesy of Comedy ACT.  


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author