8 November 2023

Laugh it Up!

One of the most successful (and hilarious) things about the cultural programming at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Center over the past few years has been an ongoing line-up of stand-up comedians. And after the pandemic lock downs and border closures, it seems that laughter really has been a collective medicine—a way to come back from the lull with a smile and whole-hearted healthy chuckle. 

Since then, we’ve presented one of Darwin’s favourite performers, the laugh factory that is Amy Hetherington, three times. Our stage has hosted South Australia comedian and all-around funny bloke, Kel Balnaves. We’ve offered Deadly Indigenous stand-up, juggling sensation Michael Connell, observational humour from Gary O’Sullivan, and a handful of other cabaret-style events to re-activate the facilities. 

They have all tickled our community’s collective funny-bone—and brought us back from the lockdown state. Next year we’re planning to go even bigger, and wake things up even more. Comedian and actress Kate McKinnon once remarked about the unique human feature of comedy:

“Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.”

The Godinymayin team are in the early stages of reaching out to develop an annual dry season comedy festival for the new Godinymayin amphitheatre stage—and we’re hoping for a 2024 debut. Imagine a half dozen stand-up performers and three days of stories, laughter, and the odd raunchy joke or three. It will also be, as McKinnon points out, a tool of togetherness.

Add a wonderful new outdoor deck and cafe, park-like surroundings, and an open-air feeling that just sings of our community’s mild tropical savannah life. Now place all of it on the Northern Territory’s newest outdoor stage, and you get my rib-tickling drift.

Katherine deserves to laugh it up. And the Dry Comedy Festival—our working title for this comedic initiative—will bring it by the truckload. Over a weekend, or maybe two, we will all be treated to some familiar Territorian faces (and true life Top End stories), but we’ll also invite some of Australia’s leading stand-up performers, wildly familiar personalities, and nationally-known comedy masters. 

If we manage to pull it off next season, the Stuart Highway just outside our doors will reverberate with laughter, and Katherine’s soon-to-be completed outdoor stage will become a new home for smiles, laughter, creative fun—and putting our arms around one another and proclaiming “Hey Katherine Dry Season, isn’t it delightfully funny that we are doing this!” 

— Eric Holowacz
Chief Executive Officer

In other news

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