Monday, 22 February 2010 16:16

Laugh it up on the iPhone - Melbourne International Comedy Festival app

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has launched a new way to plan your laffs with the introduction of a Festival information and planning app for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The city of Melbourne hosts a world recognised congregation of comedians each year at the International Comedy Festival.

Just about every venue, hall, pub and club in the CBD and nearby surrounds will ring to the sound of laughter and merriment between March 24th and April 18th.  But getting your fulfilment on what the Festival has to offer has always been a planning hurdle to overcome.

The Festival producers themselves have always sort new ways to ease the stress of 'fun planning', the printed guide, web site, big chalk board in the city, information caravans and more have made organising your funny-bone work out a little easier, but in today's connected world we need more.

Festival Marketing Director, Peter Wood told iTWire the thinking behind the introduction of the new app; ' The decision to produce an app was based on a number of reasons - all driven by the Festival's need to engage with a broad audience across multiple platforms and channels.'

'The fact that smart phone ownership (and in particular Apple iphones) has grown almost exponentially over the last 12 months became a compelling argument for developing a Festival application - allowing users to access the entire programme including venue, pricing and booking details,' Wood said.

Wood continued; 'The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is an open participation festival, this means that any producer, performer, company can present a show in the festival. The Melbourne Comedy Festival supports all participants by developing generic marketing materials that aim to promote the Festival in its entirety. The iPhone App is another channel added to this mix of generic marketing tools (along side the Festival website and programme brochure).'

What about the app itself? Find out more on Page 2

The App itself is a pleasing piece of work, using the comfortable colour palette of the Festival itself, pink and orange.  It opens onto a daily show diary with a list of session times, which click through to shows on that day - obviously a month out; there is not much to view on this daily planner.

Clicking through to the program guide however and punters have the option of listing shows by date, location or the somewhat arbitrary 'categories' listing.   Thankfully the designers have not got too pigeon-holey in their category descriptions, sticking instead to broad definitions such as 'Kids Comedy', 'Stand-Up' and 'One-Off's' for example.

Either way, you are taken to a searchable alphabetic list of the shows, finding your favourites is pretty easy. 

Clicking through to a particular show gives a half screen photo, with tabs for Description (including the all important duration), Dates, Ticket and Venue information.

Once a date and time is chose, a quick click on the '+' adds the show to your personalised 'My Planner', a great way to bemoan how you have doubled up on shows in your enthusiasm to see as much as possible.

A bit of fun is the 'Shake' option, a list of today's shows is featured, and with a shake of your iPhone, a random show will be selected.  For those looking to try something different, that they have never heard of, the randomness of this selection is a boon.  And this is a hallmark for something like the Comedy Festival, its audience is as eclectic as the performers it attracts.  Having an open mind to just give any show a go is part of the whole experience.

While it won't replace a good sit down planning session with the Comedy Festival Programme, already I can see this app being a nice way to check out upcoming shows, show changes (it does push notification if required) and planning whist on the run. 

Importantly, the app is free, now that makes me happy.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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