Broni – A Night At Java Joe’s

By Elyce Phillips A night at Java Joes

The phrase “open mic night” is one that tends to strike fear into my heart. You never know who you’re going to be watching, and often those with the confidence to leap up on stage are the ones who should firmly remain seated. But at Java Joe’s open mic night, you’re in safe hands, as every act is performed by the very talented Broni.

In A Night At Java Joe’s, Broni displays his character acting chops, playing six very distinct performers, as well as the evening’s host, Jimmie Lunsford. A quick, small costume change demarcates each character swap, but the difference is really found in Broni’s physical interpretations. Small touches like a slight tremble in the hands, or a slyly confident “yeah” added after every song lyric make these characters feel like genuine people.

Although all the characters were well-realised, there were some particular stand-outs. Tumbleweed Tilly, an ingénue with a passion for travel, was perfectly breathy and clueless. Beat poet Peter Raymond read some hilariously pithy lines about birds, and gave Broni a chance to interact with the audience as he sought some constructive feedback. Elderly farmer George Thomas McTavish delivered sweet ramblings about his wife and a song or two, striking a good balance between the sappy and the silly.

The music in A Night At Java Joe’s is lovely, infused with a gentle humour and adding a further layer of characterisation to each of the performers. As described in the guide, the show is “music and comedy” rather than “musical comedy”. The songs aren’t loaded with jokes, but become funny when performed by Broni’s characters.
A Night At Java Joe’s is a delightful exploration of character. Broni has created a likeable, amusing cast with enough variety to keep you laughing. You’re unlikely to find a better open mic night at the festival.

Broni – A Night At Java Joe’s is on at The Improv Conspiracy Office Space until April 3

The Improv Conspiracy – 3 Mad Rituals

By Elyce Phillips Improv 3 Mad Rituals

For the past few years, The Improv Conspiracy has been establishing itself as the company to see for longform improv. In 3 Mad Rituals, a team of fabulous performers take on a marathon of longform formats, displaying both incredible stamina and a talent for pulling comedy gold from seemingly thin air.

3 Mad Rituals is a 90 minute behemoth of improvised comedy. The players take part in three “rituals” designed by Del Close (a legendary performer and director at Second City) – Deconstruction, The Movie, and The Harold – all working from the one suggestion. In the Improv Conspiracy’s version, the suggestion is taken from a line of poetry called out from the audience. On the night I attended, it was Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is a thing with feathers”.

First up is the Deconstruction – a series of short scenes playing off an initial opener.  Performers Andrew Strano and Andrew Watt showed that they also had drama chops, starting things with a brutally emotional scene about a father caring for his drug-addicted son while he gets clean. The rest of the crew then skilfully created comedic scenes based on this relationship.

Following this was The Movie, in which the team created a half-hour “film”, complete with suggested camera and lighting instructions. From the embers of the preceding half-hour, they created ‘Noah and the Mecha-Angel’, an anime-style take on the biblical story, featuring Hayley Tantau and Mario Hannah as a pair of extremely unproductive water demons, intent on destroying the world but failing to do much about it.

Finally was The Harold, a long-form staple of The Improv Conspiracy. Here, things got a little hit and miss. A series of scenes about a murderous husband strayed into uncomfortable territory, with the dark subject matter not getting enough laughs to feel justifiable. However, there were also bright spots. Broni Lisle’s performance as a magician facing discrimination from his community was hilarious, as was Dan Pavatich as the nation of Chad, who inexplicably spoke fluent Japanese.

3 Mad Rituals is a wonderful opportunity to check out some of Improv Conspiracy’s strongest performers testing their skills in a gruelling format. Keeping a captive audience with a 90 minutes show that starts at 10:15pm is a tall order, but the team well and truly accomplished it, keeping the room in stitches for the duration.

3 Mad Rituals is on at The Improv Conspiracy – Theatre until October 3