***.5 STARS

By Bronwyn Cook

Following on from sold out shows in 2018 and 2019, one of Melbourne’s comedy scenes main-stayers – The Big HOO-HAA – are bringing together their improv show with music to deliver three different Musical Improvaganza’s to the 2021 MICF.

Launching their Monday night set at Melbourne Town Hall was the golden age of disco, which will be followed in the coming weeks by country and western and then opera.

If you’ve never experienced The Big HOO-HAA before, it’s very easily explained. Have you watched “Whose Line is it Anyway”? Yes. Good. It’s just like that. No? Ummm. Okay. Then it’s gamified improvised comedy using suggestions from the audience.

It has been a few years since I last went to a HOO-HAA gig (they perform weekly at The Butterfly Club) but I was surprised how quickly the audience participation elements came back to me, from the call & response, to how to vote for team Bones or Hearts and how to tell someone they are [clap, clap, outta here].

HOO-HAA have an extremely talented cast roster, which changes depending on availability. Matt Saraceni was the MC, very appropriately kitted out in a gold lame jumpsuit for the disco theme. Providing the groovy tunes were JJ and Phil on keyboard and bass guitar. Because you can’t have a musical improvaganza without music!

The Hearts and Bones teams battled it out over several rounds of games including Da doo ron-ron-ron, Sideline Grammy Awards, Musical Hotspot and Sing About It, all using random audience suggestions.

I’ve never seen two people work so hard to mime the word ‘flimsy’, which then became the running gag for the night. Even though a couple of the routines went off course and didn’t quite land their jokes, we pretty much laughed non-stop for an hour – what more could you ask for.

I will always marvel at improv comedy performers and admire just how quickly they can come up with witty zingers, clever rhymes and LOL one-liners. It certainly is a talent.

If you’ve never seen the HOO-HAA (fist pump) team in action, get yourself down to Melbourne Town Hall during the comedy festival, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!