The Melbourne International Comedy Festival started for me on Saturday night when I went to The Brunswick Green to see Kon Karapanagiotidis, ‘the Hateful Humanitarian’. Kon is a human rights lawyer and is founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
The show started with Kon explaining that he’d be telling us, over the course of the next hour, why he is a dysfunctional human being and how he can be a humanitarian and hateful at the same time. I raised my eyebrows a little at that point, but my doubts were quelled as soon as the first snapshot hit the projector and he began telling ‘stories’ of his childhood.
It’s the storytelling element of this show that made it a hit for me. Telling jokes is one thing, but captivating your audience with a tale that just happens to be hilarious is quite another. There was a groan or two when a joke didn’t strike the right chord, but these moments were rare and the audience was with him the whole way.
Kon makes fun mostly of himself and his Greek family, but towards the end of the show Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott and DIAC are fair game as well. Kon is unashamedly politically incorrect, likes to over-share when it comes to relationship stories, and pokes fun at women, men without body hair, children, pensioners… et cetera…
It was worth going just to hear Kon say his surname! I walked away smiling and cheerful, surely a measure of success for any comedy show. As a result of the stories he told about his experiences as a human rights lawyer and when working with refugees, I also walked away pondering the issues facing asylum seekers in Australia, and wondering about the craziness of the world we live in.
‘The Hateful Humanitarian’ has four shows remaining at The Brunswick Green, with the final show on Saturday 9 April. For information and tickets, go to the MICF website or directly to the ASRC website. All proceeds go to the ASRC to help asylum seekers.
Suzannah Marshall Macbeth is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University and a member of the upstart editorial team. It’s her second year in Melbourne and she finds that comedy makes the descent into winter a little more bearable.