RAW Comedy FAQs

Looking to sign up for RAW Comedy but have a few questions?! We've done our best to answer them below (but if not, feel free to hit us up at raw@comedyfestival.com.au).


What is RAW Comedy?

RAW Comedy is Australia’s largest and most prestigious open mic comedy competition. Run by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the annual competition takes place around the country, with heats typically kicking off in January of each year, leading up to the National Grand Final taking place during the Melbourne Comedy Festival. This year we’re running a winter program, with heats kicking off in June!

Who can enter RAW Comedy?

To enter RAW Comedy:

  • You must be a permanent resident of Australia.
  • You must be at least 17 years old on the date of your first heat. If you are under 17, you may be eligible to perform as part of Class Clowns, our national secondary school comedy competition. Visit classclowns.com.au for more information.
  • You may not have earned more than $500 from gigs or income from performing live comedy, as of 1 January 2021. In a nutshell, you can't have made more than $500 in cold hard cashola from making people laugh.


  • If you've been in RAW Comedy before, you can enter again, but a maximum of three different years.
  • If you've been in the National Final, or two State Finals, you can't enter again.
  • You can only enter in a given year, once. That is, you can't enter in different states in the same year. NB If you enter in 2021 Winter RAW Comedy, you may re-enter at the end of 2021 to participate in RAW Comey 2022, these will be considered different years.

Read the full terms and conditions.

Am I funny enough?

The answer is generally YES!!!! You will never know until you give it a go. The RAW Comedy audiences are incredibly supportive and warm. What’s the worst that can happen? People laugh? That’s the point!

How do I enter?

Registrations for RAW Comedy are closed for 2021. Check back later or follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with all news and competition announcements.

What do I need for the show/to enter?

You need to prepare up to five minutes (no longer!) of original comedy material. Whether it’s stand-up, sketch, music or anything in between, five minutes is all you need.

I’ve participated in RAW Comedy before, can I enter again?

If you've been in RAW Comedy before, you can enter again, but a maximum of three different years. If you've been in the National Final, or two State Finals, you can't enter again.

Do I need any stage experience before entering?

Absolutely not! Many successful RAW Comedy contestants had their first bit of stage time at their RAW Comedy heat. In saying that, practise can help. So, if you want to practise in front of an audience, maybe check out the comedy rooms in your city or region.

Does it cost to enter?

No. RAW Comedy is free to enter!

I’ve submitted my registration, what now?

After you’ve submitted your registration form, along with your preferred heat, you will receive a confirmation email. We’ll collate all preferences, allocate registrants to heats, then contact all registrants. If it’s getting very close to your preferred heat and you haven’t heard from us, email raw@comedyfestival.com.au.

I registered but didn't get a confirmation. What do I do?

All sign-ups will receive a confirmation email. So, if you don’t see one come through, check your junk inbox first, and if you have no luck there, email raw@comedyfestival.com.au.

What should I do to prepare?

Make sure you have your 5 minutes or less of original material prepared and know what you’re going to say before you head out on stage. Writing your set-list down is a good idea. Practice your lines, even if that means reciting in front of the mirror. Watching other RAW Comedy heats can help you get a feel for what other participants are doing, and what the judges are looking for. Performing live is different to what you see online, its highly recommended to head along to some live gigs

What do I do on the day?

All you need to do is arrive at the venue at the time requested, generally an hour prior to your event starting, and do your best to keep nerves down during the day. Give yourself every chance to do your best!

What are the judges looking for?

There is no formal, structured way of “marking” or “scoring”. Judges are instructed to identify performers with potential for creative achievement. Who looks like they could have a career in comedy? Who could be a possible star of the future?

Some of the things they look out for are quality and originality of material, performance skills and audience response. For more information head to the Judges Policy page.

Does it have to be stand-up?

Absolutely not! RAW Comedy welcomes stand-up, musical comedy, sketch and literally anything in between – if you think it’s funny, we want to see it.

I have accessibility requirements; how do I arrange assistance?

Email raw@comedyfestival.com.au for assistance with access requirements.

Can my mate record my spot at the heat?

Permission from Melbourne International Comedy Festival must be sought for any recordings at RAW Comedy events. Your mate cannot record your set on their phone. If approval is granted, it is for personal use ONLY. Agreed recordings cannot be published on any platforms, including but not limited to your personal or other website, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok without further express written permission of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

What happens if there is a localised COVID outbreak and the event cannot go ahead as planned?

In the event there is a COVID-19 outbreak and a heat or final must be cancelled, our producers will contact participants to discuss future steps. This may include rescheduling the event or reallocating participants to other heats.

I won my heat, what happens next?

Congratulations! In most states and territories this means progressing through to a final. You will receive information about this in the days following your initial heat either directly from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival or from the co-presenter in some cities. Email raw@comedyfestival.com.au if you don’t receive this information.

If I make it to the finals, do I have to prepare a new five minutes of material?

No! You don’t need to prepare a new set when heading through to the finals. In saying that, if you wish to change certain jokes or structure, you’re more than welcome to. Though it’s best to keep in mind that the judges put you through for a reason, so it’s probably best to stay close to your original set.

Who can I talk to for more info?

Email raw@comedyfestival.com.au if you have any other queries.