The Big HOO-HAA! – 24 Hour HOO-HAA!

By Elyce Phillips 

It’s 6am at Czech House.  Six bleary-eyed improvisers are up on stage, looking for suggestions from an equally bleary-eyed audience. Many have fallen, some have only just begun and there are still 14 hours to go.

For this year’s Fringe, The Big HOO-HAA! threw all their comedic eggs into one proverbial basket and put on a 24 hour show. It’s something we’ve seen at festivals in the past. The 24 hour show has become something like an extreme sport in the comedy world – and the HOO-HAA team’s performance was up there with the greatest of endurance athletes.

Team members of the Hearts and the Bones rotated through the night in hourly blocks, with ten minute breaks in between. For every hour you stayed, you got a dollar back from the $24 ticket price – a moment heralded on the hour with the jingling of a bowl of gold coins and a burst of an on-theme tune like ‘Gold Digger’.

The event began with HOO-HAA’s usual two hour program, with Liam Ryan on hosting duties. Ryan was an absolute stand-out through the 24 hours, somehow remaining incredibly witty right to the end. The man is an absolute natural as a host.

From there, the show took a step into different territory, changing up the theme with each hour-long block. At 10pm, there were games based on stories told by Nova’s Deano. At 12pm, an improvised musical.

At 3am, we hit Danger Hour and things started to get a bit weird. HOO-HAA’s usual games were beefed up with a series of increasingly painful punishments. We saw a strip edition of Doo Doo Ron Ron. The poor players who found themselves Desperate and Dateless (Ryan and Michelle Nussey) had pegs clipped to their bodies every time they made an incorrect guess. There was even a moment of genuine danger as Scott McAteer slightly choked on an unreasonable amount of bread in a game called Carbo Loading.

In the next couple of hours, the weirdness continued. We had Free Love at 4pm, in which team members paired up and did whatever they wanted for 15 minutes, resulting in an extremely complicated piece by Matt Saraceni and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd about the invention of closed captioning. Then it was a mega round of My Game, My Game, where we saw such gems as ‘Multi-Cluedo’, ‘DolphinHospital’ and ‘It’s Banjo Patterson’s Birthday!’.

By 6pm, brains were beginning to break. I think everyone’s mindset was best summed up by Saraceni during a game of 181, in which the players had to come up with one-liner beginning “181 somethings walk into a bar.” On the theme of spiders, Saraceni stepped forward and said, “Let me give you a little insight into how things are inside my head. 181 spiders walk into a bar. Something about a web?” With many in the audience just as sleep-deprived as the players, that simple statement was perhaps the funniest moment of the hour. We were all suffering together.

How they managed to get through the whole 24 hours, I have no idea. The sleep deprivation was enough of a challenge for those of us in the audience. In the end, only four audience members stuck it out for the full 24 hours, but many more popped in and out over the duration.

It’s an absolute testament to the skills of the HOO-HAA! team that they created an experience that was genuinely hilarious for the full 24 hours. There’s no sense in pointing out the stars in the group – they were all fabulous. Go and see them in action for yourself, perhaps at their saner two-hour show.

The Big HOO-HAA! Perform every Thursday at 8pm at The Portland Hotel.

5 Good Reasons to see 24 Hour HOO-HAA!

5 Good Reasons from The Big HOO-HAA! 

1) 24 hours of Melbourne’s best improvisers running low on sleep and high on energy.

2) It’s presented by The Big HOO-HAA!, who have been making audiences howl with laughter for over 10 years in both Perth and Melbourne.

3) A show as interactive as you want it to be – join right in or sit back and watch the chaos.

4) Tickets are $24 and you get a dollar back for every hour you stay – plus it’s right near the Fringe Hub in North Melbourne so it’s easy to pop in and out!

5) How often do you get the chance to be part of a 24 hour comedy show? In the past these roller coaster events have a achieved legendary status in comedy folklore. You don’t want to miss this one!

For One Night and One Day Only (Just as Well!) From 8pm on Friday the 4th of October through Saturday 5th of October at The Czech Club in Queensbury St, near the North Melbourne Town Hall.

The Big HOO-HAA!

By Elyce Phillips.

Running in Melbourne since 2010, The Big HOO-HAA! is a regular feature in the local comedy calendar.  Throughout the year, the team presents their improvised comedy once a week at the Portland Hotel. But now it is festival time, and it is ON – four nights a week. Two teams, the Hearts (Sarah Rueben, Liam Ryan, Charlie Sturgeon) and the Bones (Brenna Courtney Glazebrook, Adam Kangas, Matt Saraceni) , battle it out in a series of improv games.

It can be a scary thing, going to an improvised comedy show. It’s all spur of the moment, there are no safety nets and there is every chance it could all go horribly wrong. But when it is good, it is an amazing thing to see. The Big HOO-HAA! is one of those great improv comedy experiences. With a strong cast of performers and some fantastic games, you are in for an incredibly entertaining (and often baffling) hour of comedy.

The show was consistently funny, thanks to the amazing cast. All of the performers had their moment to shine. Every game produced something brilliant – from the overplayed drama of ‘Oscar Winning Moments’ to the short, sharp gags of ‘Arnie’. The host, Emmet Nichols, kept the show fast-paced and kept the audience giggling. The audience is frequently encouraged to get involved, being asked to shout out suggestions for topics and vote for winners of games. If you are extra enthusiastic, you may even earn yourself an ‘I tried’ sticker.

The Big HOO-HAA! is a great way to start off your evening at the festival. Every night there is a

different cast, a different bunch of games and an entirely unique set of comedy – but there is always something to please.

The Big HOO-HAA! is on at Roxanne until April 21, and continues after the festival every Thursday at the Portland Hotel.