A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published July 22nd 2019
Impossibly Good Improv Comedy
The Big HOO-HAA (BHH) has just hit a big milestone - its ninth birthday! While it has a long way to go to beat what is claimed to be the longest-running stage production in the world (The Fantasticks, which closed on its 55th anniversary), one can't help but be impressed by the longevity, in a city where there is so much competition for the entertainment dollar.
Happy 9th birthday to The Big HOO-HAA!
The BHH formula for endurance includes playing in a smallish space (usually The Butterfly Club), to an audience which includes many regular attendees, and sticking to a set formula - the classic 'theatre sports' team versus team rounds of improvised theatre.
But of course that ignores the most important ingredient of the BHH's success, and that is a large and very talented troupe, who appear to genuinely love what they do.
The ensemble of The Big HOO-HAA (image supplied)
In a BHH show, silliness is mandatory, outlandishness is even better, and playing for laughs wins points. Self-consciousness is a term that doesn't belong in the lexicon of a BHH player.
Silliness is mandatory... self consciousness is a term that doesn't belong... One of The Big HOO-HAA team plays a poodle.
I last reviewed The Big HOO-HAA in 2017, so I had some idea of what to expect, but we also took along a BHH newbie, my partner's sister. Well, I can report that at one stage during the show, as I wiped tears of laughter from my eyes, I looked over and saw her doing the same. If anything, the standard of entertainment was higher than it was two years earlier - and that's saying something!
The 9th birthday show was held in a slightly larger venue than usual - The Toff in Town - offering room for a larger audience and a bigger stage. Playing to a packed house, the four teams (instead of the usual two) took fancy cocktails as their names, and dressed, well, to the nines.
In a way, it's hard to explain what the show is like if you've never seen this form of improv theatre as it's so fast-moving and free-flowing. I will mention a couple of scenes to give a sense of it.
Improvised singing - always a hit!
Imagine a scene where the audience is asked for a descriptive word, the name of a celebrity and an object, and team members then need to mime out these words to another team member (who was not in earshot when the audience provided the names). And that is how you have one team trying to mime "corrosive, RuPaul, poodle", the other, "dangerous, Michael Buble, magic carpet". Hilarious scenes ensued.
Hamming it up for the camera
Later in the show, there is again a request for audiences to give some direction. 'What's an era in history?'. 'What's a household task?'. And that's how we ended up with a team acting out a scene about a castle experiencing a rat plague (with other cast members doing a very credible impression of rats), while another team launches into a soap opera about a housemate who has failed to wash the dishes. Who can it be? Finally, the culprit is outed, the full cast joining in (improvised) song, in a fitting and fabulous finale.
The accused - failed to wash the dishes
A big shout out too to the comperes who do a sterling job of keeping the show moving at a rapid pace and never allowing a pause in proceedings.
Golden comperes - keep the show moving
So do go along and find out what the hoo-haa is all about, and why this show has been a success for nine years! Gold standard comedy promised.
The Big HOO-HAA plays every Friday night at 8.00pm at The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne. The running time is two hours.
Tickets are currently full - $29, concession - $25 (plus booking fee). Note ticket prices will increase in August. Click here to buy your tickets online, call The Butterfly Club on (03) 9663 8107, or buy them at the door (but the show may sell out, pre-booking is recommended).
Except where indicated, the images in this article were taken by the writer.