Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Review: The Big HOO-HAA!

6 June 2019

It was with much anticipation that I waited for one of the longest-running improv shows in the country to start. The Big HOO-HAA! usually occurs every Friday night at the Butterfly Club, but they were making a few exceptions for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The show has been crowned “the original and the best” improv comedy ensemble in Melbourne, and it is easy to see why. A couple minutes in and they’ve got the crowd howling with laughter.

The show requires lots of audience participation as two teams (Hearts and Bones) compete to see who is funnier, with the funnier team taking home a trophy for the night. Each show has an overarching theme; ours was ‘spooky’. The stage was dressed with skeletons and cobwebs, and the show was split up into an exorcism, a play with a spooky premise and a musical about a team of skeletons. These  games have a predetermined structure that required the audience to yell out words or phrases that the actors have to weave into the show. The first of three required a member from each team leaves the room as the audience comes up with the ‘ghost’ and the phrase needed to repel it. The two members of each team must then guess these phrases through an intense and hilarious game of charades. They thus had to mime out the exorcism of a “repulsive Elvis” and “hairy Marilyn” by saying the code words “Monday” and “bacon” respectively. Other games from that night included a spooky storytelling session that saw traditionally scary phrases like “Bush did 9/11” and “I think I’m in love with you” in a story about a family heirloom that predicted the future and an improvised musical complete with dance breaks.

The cast is undoubtedly filled with talented and humorous actors who fill the room with joy and warmth. They are all frighteningly hilarious on their own and provide killer performances as a group.  The show earns its place as a comedy establishment in Melbourne. The Big HOO-HAA! is improv comedy at its most basic – quick, clever jokes with good acting. It was exhilarating to watch the cast come up with impossible rhymes, sharp puns and witty one-liners. The hour (it usually goes for two at the Butterfly Club!) was jam-packed with an array of jokes. There is not a dull moment and you will most definitely be left with a sore face from laughing. At the end of the hour, I had a renewed appreciation for improv and a thirst for more. No doubt, I will be returning to watch them perform again – and the beauty of improv guarantees a different experience every time.

The Big HOO-HAA! performs every Friday Night at the Butterfly Club.

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