There’s a new stand-up comedy venue in Melbourne, and it’s ‘south of the river’! It’s the ‘The Rubber Chicken‘, and it aims to be Australia’s first comedy hub.
Those familiar with Melbourne’s comedy scene will recognise the names of comedy disruptors, Ben Horowitz and Morry Morgan. Since 2016, the duo have been helping build Melbourne’s stand-up comedy industry, first with their stand-up comedy school, The School of Hard Knock Knocks, then with their monthly comedy room, Punchlines Comedy Club. More recently the duo have collaborated with Melbourne film production company, Mezzanine Films. Their six-part comedy-drama, ‘Is This Thing On?’, is a factual reality show that follows ten newbie comedians who get coached in stand-up comedy by some of Australia’s most iconic comedians.
But their latest venture into bricks and mortar puts Ben and Morry literally on the map. Their venue, which was formerly The Water Rat Hotel, is at 256 Moray Street, South Melbourne. And while Google does label this address as a ‘Comedy Club’, the two founders emphasise that it’s more than that.
Says Morry, “The Rubber Chicken is a hub for comedy. We run comedy workshops, host open mic tryout nights, as well as produce professional shows upstairs in our 120 seat showroom. And the public bar downstairs is a hangout for comedians and comedy lovers alike. If you pop in for a beer, you’ll certainly see some famous faces.”
One of those famous faces is Elliot Goblet, aka Jack Levi. Jack is not only a regular at The Rubber Chicken, both as a performer and punter, but also boasts his name on the wall. The Elliot Goblet Bar, is the public bar with a stage and lighting that encourages live performers of all skill levels to jump up. And it helps with the bar staff all being professional comedians.
Four of the bar staff, including the co-founder Ben Horowitz, are veteran comedians. Together with comedians Chris Wainhouse, CJ Fortuna and Wayne Deakin, The Rubber Chicken has staff with close to 100 years of comedy experience between them. So not only can they pour beers, but they can jump up and perform impromptu stand-up sets on most evenings.
The Rubber Chicken also boasts its own restaurant, called Khalu by Bossman Food, which provides hearty Caribbean influenced pub meals. The menu includes Jamaican grill jerk chicken, oxtail stew, as well as pub favourites, like chicken parma and fish & chips.
The timing of The Rubber Chicken’s opening on February 26 couldn’t be more perfect. The 512 square metre venue, opened a month before the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF), was selected by controversial Aussie comedian, Lewis Spears, to host all 23 shows of his official MICF shows, ‘Back in the Trenches‘. The Rubber Chicken is also the home the School of Hard Knock Knocks’ own MICF production, ‘The Best Of‘, featuring the school’s funniest graduates.
But perhaps the most notable mark in the Rubber Chicken’s short history is the literal mark, in the form of a tattoo obtained by a recent School of Hard Knock Knocks graduate Steve Ock. Steve, who performed his first stand-up comedy set at The Rubber Chicken in March this year, thought it fitting to ink his body with a reminder of his achievement, cementing himself as one of the comedy communities’ most committed comedians.