Michael Shafar – Lots to Say (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) – standup review

In his seventh year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Michael Shafar is laid back and effortlessly funny. In short, the 33-year-old knows how to entertain a crowd, as howls of laughter ring out throughout his hour-long standup routine, where nothing is sacred. He is clever and ribald and risqué.

Home base – formerly Melbourne – is London now, which allows him to readily travel to other European cities. But as for British citizenship, that doesn’t resonate, as he starts in on the Brits and their racist practices and second-rate food. Mind you, he doesn’t spare the Australian government, which he calls out for checking in on his sister’s lifelong condition annually.

Pugs aren’t exactly Michael’s favourite breed of dog, while he turns the spotlight on shark attacks. He maintains that we don’t give enough credit to Indigenous Australians and comes up with a unique theory on how to close the gap. He tackles the culture wars and indicates we shouldn’t be so precious because in five years China will have all but taken over.

Hero by by B & G Photography; this shot by Peter Tarasiuk


Michael uses history to point to acceptance of Italians, Greeks and Chinese in this country … and all of it relates to our stomachs. He talks up the stupidity of racists (perhaps MasterChef Racist could be the answer), with Nazis, in particular, getting a bollocking. He highlights an unexpected experience he had in Jamaica a decade ago.

While being proudly Jewish, he sails close to the wind with a series of Holocaust jokes. Nevertheless, he explains why he can’t or at least shouldn’t get a tattoo or buy a German car. The elderly and aged care facilities are also in Michael’s line of sight, while he manages to link business class air travel and pedophiles.

Older blokes are identified as being transphobic, while FOX News in ripe for the picking, as are pronouns. He acknowledges that if Santa were black, he wouldn’t be allowed into the country. Bill Gates and Pauline Hansen are among public figures referenced, while billionaires are hardly flavour of the month.

Sharp of mind and quick with the retort, one of Michael’s skills is to link smart one liners back to material he has used earlier in his show. That has the effect of keeping us on our toes, as well as generating a surfeit of guffaws. There is no doubting how adept he is at holding a room. Witty and wise, the man who left behind a legal career to pursue comedy, continues to deliver year after year.

Michael Shafar – Lots to Say is on at QT Melbourne, 133 Russell Street until 21st April, 2024, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Alex First

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