Karen Koren: Life can be funny in land of Oz

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WELL, it’s 3.45am in Melbourne and I am wide awake. The problem with jet-lag is you can be fine one minute and nodding off the next. Melbourne, meanwhile, is absolutely buzzing.

The comedy festival here has become huge, with as many shows a day as there are in Assembly, Pleasance, Underbelly and the Gilded Balloon put together.

It’s not as big as the Fringe yet, but it is trying, which makes it hard to decide what to go and see.

When I first arrived I went straight to judge the Raw Comedy Final; the 12 comics were all of a very high standard.

As they televise the final here, they put the judges behind a desk in the middle of the 1500-seater theatre, right in the spotlight so they can be seen by the audience and the performer. It’s not easy being watched by a camera, audience and nervous performer - lots of smiles.

The winner was a lovely girl, Demi Lardner, who had the most original material and wins the prize of coming to Edinburgh in August to perform in the Gilded Balloon’s So You Think You’re Funny? - a wonderful experience for a newcomer and one she will become the better for.

Last night I went to the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy showcase. It’s a great way for me to see a lot of comics without going to their individual shows. I also saw Tom Gleeson, who was very good. Tom was at the Gilded Balloon ten years ago and you can tell the comics who have done Edinburgh, they have a different attitude.

The jet-lag is definitely worth it for the talent that is here in abundance.