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Published March 18, 2014

One of the reasons I frequent Om Vegetarian Restaurants in Melbourne (aside from the brainwashed look in the eyes of the acolytes who serve the delicious hi-carb curries) is because the food is very reasonably priced. If you share my predisposition for cheap yet satisfying content then you’ll want to sample the Best of Edinburgh at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF). This year brings three emerging, yet formidable, comedians to our shores in the form of Kai Humphries, Tom Slade and Carl Donnelly. I chatted to Kai Humphries on a Saturday morning in Melbourne, struggling to decipher his thick (but pleasant) accent via speakerphone.

Best of Edinburgh

Kai Humphries is a comedian with a disability. I mean, in the real world it probably wouldn’t be classed as a disability, but for a comedian it’s potentially fatal. Kai is an optimist. He’s sharp, witty and upbeat, but his comedy is still clever, meticulously prepared and delivered at a comfortable but still punchy pace. He assures me that Australians will be forgiven for noticing his accent’s similarity to another famous Geordie comedian.

To confirm this Australian’s suspicions that every Geordie knows one another, Kai explained to me that he and Anne Noble (mother of Ross Noble, although fun fact: Ross and Kai have never actually met) had been his school’s chief disciplinarian with whom he spent many an afternoon detention. Kai used to take a great deal of glee being the naughty kid in class tormenting Anne, but had fallen out of touch with her since leaving school. It wasn’t until 2010 they got back in touch, when Anne went out of her way to attend one of Kai’s shows and heckle him from back of the club, “getting some of her own back,” he tells me. Of course Anne has since retired and Kai informs me she now spends her days riding around Ross Noble’s estate in a self-propelled artillery vehicle or “tank” (yes, you read that correctly). Kai doesn’t mess with her any more.

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At least, not while he’s in Australia – he’s got much more important things to do here, such as hanging out with Dave Chappelle:

This Chapelle fan had to ask what he smelt like. Answer? “He smelt like success.” And for clarification: “He smelt like someone with a lot of money.”

In any case, Kai is teaming up with Carl Donnelly and Tom Stade, two excellent budding talents with whom he both performs and drinks with after the show. On top of being mates, they also bounce off each other: “Sometimes it happens that something comes up in a conversation and you get your notebook out and write it down…and plenty of times we’ve sat round the table and said: I’ve got this idea, and then we’ll talk and add ideas to it. Sometimes it’s off the cuff, and sometimes it’s planned.”

This is potentially the last time he’s doing gigs in concert with other comedians (hot rumour: solo show in 2015) so it’s a great time to get down and sample some of the best of the Edinburgh festival has to offer while they’re still priced in the ‘emerging artist’ (krishna) category. It won’t be long until these guys are headliners in their own right.

Head to their page on the MICF website for more and to book.

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