Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/
ImproMafia does '90s nostalgia well
Heartfelt High Courtesy of Brisbane Comedy Festival Website.
ImproMafia returns to the Brisbane Comedy Festival with their latest show Heartfelt High.
Inspired by the fashion and pop culture of the '90s, the marketing is definitely paying homage to the teen shows of that time. The beauty of improvisation is how of course the show might go, even from its stated intentions.
Opening night was a case in point, to kick things off a cast member came on stage and asked for suggestions from the audience about school memories to address in the narrative.
The reply came back, about not being able to write with your left hand at school and a full hour later no mention of it had been made whatsoever - and it didn't matter.
ImproMafia counts within its ranks some of the best improv artists in the country and on Tuesday night, they certainly got to strut their stuff. Decked out in '90s flannel, denim overalls, mesh shirts and caps worn backwards they were a mix of established players and new up and comers – both equally delighting with their impromptu thoughts and comedic timing.
Slowly they created ongoing characters and stories with different strands paying off more than others. Some jokes landed, some bombed and the performers' nerves held in the awkward moments where silence filled the room. They soaked in it, spun humour of it, knowing the next laugh would reveal itself and soon enough it did. When those laughs came, the particular high only improv theatre can give was shared by all.
While never getting back to the left-hand thing, the show did reference a lot of tropes from the time. Teachers too cool for school to teach and teenagers too cool for music so they just listen to soundscapes. Everybody either making out in weird places or acting weird to those they secretly wanted to make out with.
Truth is, these are feelings and situations that ring familiar for anyone who has gone through adolescence but there was certainly a nostalgic appeal about it for kids from the 90s. Songs from that era would accompany the opening and closing of scenes and, more often than not, perfectly echo what was happening on stage.
Sadly the audiences seemed mostly full of those too young to remember or too old to have cared and it may have affected the performance. Momentum is vital in improv, and with a lively crazy supportive audience behind you things can take off like a rocket.
Friday and Saturday crowds tend to bring that more and so those attending this weekend should be in for a treat.
Because on Tuesday, sometimes the crew did need your patience but they always rewarded it in full with big laughs.
Proving yet again that when it comes to doing the best-improvised comedy, ImproMafia remain a local treasure.