Fast, furious and funny, the Big HOO-HAA is Melbourne's longest running and lively weekly improvisation comedy normally running every Friday night at the Butterfly Club in Melbourne but they are making a special appearance at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2018 at the Backstage Room in The Melbourne Town Hall and tickets are still available here.
I saw my first improv comedy show last night at the 2018 Melbourne Comedy Festival to a sold out show which included many repeat customers who were both enthusiastic and keen to participate, which is great if are generally an introverted type of person and the thought of audience participation makes you start to sweat a little under the collar. On this particular night and I'm sure similar to many others, if you just want to show up and watch the show without too much input, there will be plenty of other audience members who will be happy to take the limelight.
Watching live improv is like unwrapping a Kinder Surprise, you're just not sure what you're going to get, but if you are being entertained by witty experts, you know you will find something pleasant and enjoyable inside.
As I had expected from watching many episodes of "Who's line is it anyway", there was a comical battle, but not just between individuals, but between two teams - the Hearts and the Bones and these specialists on the night faced off in a series of comedy challenges where many of the topics, genres and laughable material are feed in by the rowdy audience members.
They started off the night with the "Do-Ra-Ra-Rum" Game, where the audience had to yell out any random one syllable word that the cast had to make into a lyric and then every other lyric after that had to rhyme with that word too. It started off with fairly reasonable words like 'trunk', which of cause you can make into a fun lyric about funk where someone might dunk, then it got tricky with 'scone', that round certainly did not last as long, but I was definitely impressed by how runs they did manage to rhyme out.
Another memorable game was a mock "dating game", where two players were sent outside whilst the audience was asked to come up with two suitors with distinctive features, jobs and a hobby. The end result was suitor one, who was exceptionally tall, worked as a stockbroker by day and a beehive farmer on the weekend in contrast to suitor two, who was apparently slimy, a mortician during the day and enjoyed coral collecting after hours. The other players on their team then will help the two players guess these characteristics through the art of mime. In this instance, Team Bone was victorious as coral collecting was impossible to pinpoint, no matter how good the acting was.
Throughout the night, the team players bounced off each other's energy with a kind of messy, laughter driven adrenaline that you would certainly expect with this spontaneous unscripted comedy duel. The good thing about this speed of comedy is that if the comedy stumbles onto a weak joke and misses a beat, you quickly move onto the next scene and the humour returns again. The wit and skills of these performers were staggering. On-the-spot puns and one-liners come on thick and fast, especially when they were creating their Broadway-type theatrical numbers.
Even though the venue was comfy, especially when you had 6 participants on-stage plus one fast-talking MC, the two teams managed to jam-pack a lot into this 60-minute show. This comedy show is unique in the sense that unlike normal stand-up that follows a script and is virtually the same jokes each time, improv comedy is different every single time, which means you can keep going back and see something new.