By Michael Doran
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the three largest comedy festivals in the world and proudly nestled in this year’s line-up is a special night that requires a journey only as far as The Memo in Healesville.
For its second year, Healesville Toastmasters is presenting ‘The Art of Speech Festival’ on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 March, culminating in the Saturday evening ‘Comedy in the Valley’ extravaganza.
The festival, whose sponsors include Yarra Ranges council, Healesville Community Bank and Healesville Lions Club, showcases how to use speech, how to craft it but most of all how to have fun with it.
Bruce Argyle, a member of the organising team, said the focus is on family friendly, intelligent humour and that more than 400 attended the 2018 event.
“We put it together as a celebration of speech and a way of presenting it in all of its forms, reminiscent of the John Clarke and Bryan Dawe genre,” he said. “There is poetry, a community debate, speeches, music and plenty of comedy that will appeal to all ages.”
The Saturday program includes the debate on ‘Who would you rather be ruled by – cats or dogs?’ with the audience playing a role evaluating the merits of the two arguments.
There will also be a range of interactive, creative workshops led by specialists where anyone can join small groups of 20 and learn from the experts.
‘Comedy in the Valley’, led by Bruce Argyle and Tina Dalen, is the theme for the evening dinner and performances. As well as a very quirky but delicious dinner, there will be five acts, including Yarra Valley FM favourite Strange Business, a jester, comedians, musicians and funny, yet award winning speechmakers from Toastmasters.
Stange Business is the brainchild of Mr Argyle and his comedic partner, Lindsay Frost and involves a series of interviews with people involved in the strangest of occupations, such as hammock tester, bean counter, mattress tester, budgie trainer and umbrella maker.
Tina Dalen said that while the weekend is about the cleverness of words, it’s really just a whole lot of fun for everyone, even if they have never heard of Toastmasters.
“Everything is original material written for the festival and the Saturday ‘discusstation’ dinner adds another dimension to the night,” she said. “The menu is a secret but I can say it will be something outlandish.”
“The humour is so refreshing, you can bring all your family no matter what their age and it’s not the usual stand-up comedy that might make people cringe at times. Being clever doesn’t mean not funny, it’s just clever humour.”
All the details and tickets are available at www.artofspeech.online but with the dinner being a sell-out in 2018 the advice from the organisers is to get in early for your tickets.