Headliners with Joel Kim Booster and Zainab Johnson at Melbourne 2024

**** 1/2 (out of 5)

Easter weekend and Ramadan coinciding with the start of the Melbourne festival felt fortuitous for visiting American stand-ups Joel Kim Booster and Zainab Johnson, who are co-headlining a run for the first half of the fest.

It also helps that Booster and Johnson have both performed here before, so they’ve returned ready with observations about the towns and sites outside of Melbourne, too. Their sets (shortened in previous fests when Headliners featured up to four acts) now have time to breathe, and they mesh well together thematically, too. Booster can joke about which Australian animals are among the worst (or his least favorite, anyhow), while Johnson can follow up with stories about visiting a nearby animal sanctuary or encountering a dingo while promoting her shows on morning radio. He can joke about how silly we get regarding heights in dating, while she can double down by referencing her perspective as a tall woman being misled by men and their expectations. And if we truly are heading for the End Times, he can help us locate a safe city to ride out the apocalypse, while she can protect us with her gun. But you likely won’t be worrying about any of that by the end of the hour, because you’ll be laughing too much.

Headliners with Joel Kim Booster and Zainab Johnson runs through 7 April at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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