The Big Hoo-Haa!, Portland Hotel, March 15


The Big Hoo-Haa!, Portland Hotel, March 15

The Galeries , 5 July 2012
Feeling glum because you can't afford to see your favourite comedian at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival? Check out some quality improv at The Big Hoo-Haa! and you might just wind up leaving with a new favourite.

The Big Hoo-Haa! is a Whose Line Is It Anyway meets Thank God You're Here affair that pits two teams - the hearts and the bones - against one another in a night of off-the-cuff improv, vying for the approval of the audience in a competition for the most points. But like saying 'Happy Birthday' on Facebook to that friend's friend who you've only met once and added because they were slightly attractive and whose birthday you clearly didn't know before you logged in that morning, the points don't mean a whole lot besides dictating which team goes home receiving slightly more applause than the other.

The Big Hoo-Haa! has nurtured such talents as Tim Minchin and Claire Hooper, a testament to the quality of comedy you're bound to encounter. Though they're not big yet, the improv stars of this show will warm your heart with outrageous physical comedy, ludicrous accents and puns that would give dad a run for his money.

The setting of the upstairs of The Portland Hotel belies the uproarious improv the six actors come up with. It's difficult to imagine the dimly lit stage, a couple of props and a house of mismatching chairs to be the scene of tear-jerking comedy (the good kind where your cheeks are sore from laughing; not the bad kind where your girlfriend dumps you over Twitter: @jonosasson I was silly for dating a boy with more than one vowel in his name, it's over #GoodbyeForever). The performances demand just that however - imagination. Once you've switched on the imagination noggin (technical term), the actors will do the rest for you.

Many of the games require audience suggestions to set the scene for a skit, a song or a mime, however they won't accept brothel as "a place where there's a lot of movement", trust me. Don't fear because there's no singling out of audience members, although the MC has no hesitation in handing out 'I tried' stickers to those who don't fully grasp the parameters he requires. Using as little inspiration as a verb, a noun and an adjective (no one said there would be a grammar test), these creative fellows can whip up an entire narrative within seconds and play it out in front of your eyes, creating characters you'll feel you've known for a lifetime and killing them off without the slightest hesitation - much to the audience's amusement.

With three weeks of MICF shows featuring special appearances by some celebrated names in comedy, The Big Hoo-Haa! is the perfect way to experience a very unique kind of entertainment, for less than the cost of two beers at a nightclub. It truly is a big HAA-HAA.

WORDS: Jono Sasson
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