Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Deadly Funny National Grand Final took place on Saturday in Melbourne. Hosted by Kevin Kropinyeri, the lineup of 12 finalists, was a cheeky, loud, black and proud celebration of fresh and funny new First Nations talent from around the country. The 2022 Deadly Funny title was awarded to Janty Blair from Butchulla, QLD, who had the audience and judges in stitches. Special mentions were given to David Human and Dora Smith.
Butchulla comedian Janty Blair has been crowned Australia’s Deadly Funny winner at Naarm’s (Melbourne) International Comedy Festival – and it all started with a Bumble date. Astutely humble and buzzing with energy, Blair said it was the comradery and support from host, Kevin Kropinyeri and fellow contenders which made the experience special. Taking out 2022 Deadly Funny title wasn’t the only highlight for Blair; it was the special moments shared. “We all came back cheering each other on,” Blair said. “I felt like a winner when we all got together, and we all loved each up, hugged.” Blair said it was only recently on a Bumble date in Byron Bay she first gave comedy a crack.
Upon noticing only two of 12 comedians performing during her date were women, Blair decided she “could be that someone”.
Blair is forthcoming in sharing that it’s her sisters in Brisbane that she takes inspiration from, and its these same tiddas that show up to support when performing.
“The comedians I look up to are all in my family, in my mob and my community,” she said. “I share this award with… all my tidda girls in Brissy, and I share it with my cousins, aunties and uncles, because that’s my inspiration.” A wearer of many hats, between producing at Brisbane multicultural Art Centre, and in the final swing of a Fine Arts Degree – Blair excitingly said she now had her sights set on a one hour stand-up show for herself.
It’s been a whirlwind few days for the Deadly Funny Winner Janty Blair, not one to rest on her laurels, Blair has flown between Melbourne, Hobart, Briny Island and back to Brisbane with plans to perform at Kickstart’s Comedy, Fortnightly Open Mic Night next week.
For 16 years the Deadly Funny competition – Australia’s only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy competition – has crossed the continent to unearth the freshest and fiercest, comedians and yarn-spinners from the oldest culture on earth. Today they took to the Forum Melbourne stage to compete for the National Deadly Funny title and a $2,000 cash prize.
The judges, a panel of industry experts, said of the finalists: “The Deadly Funny Grand Final performances were a great representation of the next generation of First Nations comedy from all over Australia. It was a really eclectic mix of all ages, all perspectives.”
The 11 Deadly Funny national finalists who performed today included Bel Mac (Kukatha/Wikangu, Kaurana, SA), Ben Moodie (Gamilaroi, VIC), Cameron Ribbons (Kamilaroi, ACT), Dave Human (Wiradjuri, Living Dunghutti country, NSW), Dora Smith (Yawuru/Noongar, Broome & Perth, WA), Gavin Sempel (Dharawalm, VIC), Janty E Blair (Butchulla, QLD), Jessie Human (Wiradjuri Dharug and Dharkinjung, NSW), Kylan Abrum (Yidinji, QLD), Maureen French (Darug, NSW) and Nathan Wright (Larrakia/Wurrumungu, NT).
As the winner of Deadly Funny, Janty joins the ranks of the country’s favourite Indigenous comedians including previous winners Kevin Kropinyeri, Steph Tisdell, Ghenoa Gela, Jalen Sutcliffe and Shiralee Hood, who have all gone on to stellar careers performing around the country.