Research stands out with stand-up

Words by Greg Fideler

After travelling 13,000 kilometres from Los Angeles to Melbourne, I found myself lost in the forest – bushed. I was sitting on a folding chair, next to Dave Hughes, watching a mob of kangaroos eat grass. 

“Nice that this place is so close to the city,” Australia’s top comedian said to me. “Yeah, dude. That’s what I was after”, was my reply. Then I added, “They bought this place because it reminds them of Slovenia.” 

Dave and I were about to perform in The Slovenian Club of Melbourne, a hidden Nillumbik gem.  It was the first live comedy show I produced after emigrating to Australia from Los Angeles. 

Upon arriving in Melbourne four years ago, the first thing that struck me was what a deep pool of comedic talent this city has. The second thing was the fact that all of the comedy clubs were in the city.

I made it a goal to bring stand-up comedy to Melbourne’s suburbs.  

That’s when I found the Slovenian Club, which sits on several hectares of land surrounded by bush.  However, once you pass through the gates, you quickly see why it has become such a popular location for live entertainment. 

The main building has two performance theatres, each with a kitchen and full-service bar. There is a breathtaking view of the rolling hills of Nillumbik and plenty of free parking. Out of city experience achieved. 

The initial Hughsey show was followed by a string of other big names like Peter Helliar, Dave Thornton, Dilruk, Dave O’Neil and Tony Martin, who each packed the house in this sprawling private compound and filled it with laughter. The venue’s secluded location in tiny Research is always fodder for comedy.  

“I’m happy to be up here tonight,” were the first words out of Helliar’s mouth, followed by: “When my GPS told me to drive through that big gate out the front, I was pretty sure this was a hit job.” 

Tony Martin performs to a sold out house

Tony Martin said: “The Slovenian Club in Research doesn’t sound like it’d be synonymous with comedy, but it was one of the best gigs I did last year.  [It’s] a great set-up, a crowd who were genuinely up for it, [and] a fun night for all. No wonder so many top names are making the journey out there.”

The unique name and secluded location were used by Martin during a gag on: Have You Been Paying Attention? 

TV Host Tom Gleeson making a joke about Research: “It’s an outer Melbourne suburb, I think”

In addition to bringing in the biggest names in comedy, I’ve also had the opportunity to feature some of the best up-and-coming performers in the country. 

Some of the support acts you will see here would be headlining shows in other markets like Perth or Brisbane. This is thanks to the deep talent pool in Melbourne. 

This little piece of bushland in Nillumbik turned out to be a great place to find myself. 

Greg Fideler is a comedy writer and producer in Melbourne. He has performed stand up all over North America and written for David Letterman, Jay Leno and SNL’s (Saturday Night Live) “Weekend Update” in the US.