You’re always in for an entertaining, roaring with laughter and unpredictably funny kind of night when you see a Big Hoo Ha show, and their 8th birthday show at Howler in Brunswick absolutely upheld this. A jam packed show with double the players you normally see on stage ( 12 plus 2 hosts instead of 6 and 1), plus 80s themed costumes and scenarios and an extra large audience to pick on, this was a fantastic celebration of how far the company have come and how much fun the shows are, even after 8 years.
Melbourne’s longest running improv show burst onto the scene in July 2010, after beginning in Perth in 2002, and now performs every Friday night at the Butterfly Club downstairs. They delight and bewilder each year at the Comedy and Fringe festivals, and also run improv classes and workshops, and interactive corporate entertainment and training opportunities they can customise at the drop of a hat.
The entire show is devised from audience suggestions, and complete with puns, one liners, singing and high octane improv comedy, they pull funny out of thin air. The cast is made up with some of Melbourne’s best acting and comedic talent, but don’t expect everything to make sense – it is a night of outlandish, ridiculous fun.
Featuring a bigger band, a bunch of regulars in the audience and extra levels of technology, like lighting and vocal effects that you often wouldn’t see at their festival shows, their 8th birthday celebration kicked off with song and dance.
Highlights include Dave and Isabella’s improvised song, ‘Watch the World Burn’ and a ridiculous slam poetry set of scenes about something called ‘Pocket Ball’ (no one knew what it was, but to our horror, Urban Dictionary confirmed it’s amusing and naughty definition), that continued to escalate and become more ridiculous, with cast members in alternate scenes pleading for audience votes for important things like storylines and narrative, instead of this ridiculous ode to Pocket Ball. The usual games delighted: their rhyming efforts to Da Do Run Run, their one liners about sex and a magnificent play off in ‘Sing About It’ about an aerobics studio, and the beginnings of KFC. Sometimes the improv falls so perfectly it seems planned and sometimes it leaves us confused and in absolute chaos, but prepare to leave with a sore stomach from chuckling so hard, and the real risk of spitting your drink out in shock and delight throughout the show.
Half the time, the stumbles due to their excitement, enthusiasm, or just straight up brain fades, are just as funny as the jokes they race to create. The Misfits, Jocks, Nerds and the Biz faced off, but there could only be one winner and it was the poor Kate who was dragged up by performers as guest beat poet to close the night, asked to judge each surprise challenge between the teams, being a good sport and wearing an excellent pink scarf.
Given Howler is a bigger venue than the Butterfly Club, or their festival venues, a lot more planning and practice could have gone into how they would run the microphones over the night, however this seemed to resolve itself as the cast warmed up and got warmer, and the audience got rowdier and more into the show. Despite being hard to hear on occasion, half the time was because the audience hadn’t stopped laughing at the previous gag.
It’s the 80s and anything is possible! The show is brimming with positivity and fun and is a genuine cure to the winter blues. Head down to the Butterfly Club for a night of fantastic improv comedy, a few drinks and a warm, inviting atmosphere, and if you’re looking to continue on, hang around for Fab Fridays for a sing along to really kick off your weekend. Tickets to their Friday shows: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-big-hoo-haa and keep in touch with what they are up to: http://www.hoohaamelbourne.com.au/