10 years on, a lot of Hoo-Haa
Perth improv comedy group The Big Hoo Haa. Picture: Michael Wilson/the West Australian.

If theatre and stand-up comedy met one night at a smoky bar and after a few drinks found themselves in a compromising position in the back of a clapped-out 67 Volkswagen, the result would be the Big Hoo-Haa.

This is how Sam Longley first described his hit comedy show in 2002. Fast-forward 10 years and the Big Hoo-Haa has become Perth's longest-running comedy show, with sold-out performances every Saturday night at Lazy Susan's Comedy Den.

The Big Hoo-Haa involves two teams of performers in a competition of wit and humour using audience suggestions to create improvised comedy sketches.

"It's all about fun and entertainment," Longley says. "With improvised comedy there is that sense of danger and the audience know we can trip up at any moment. They come along for the ride and by the end of the night, the amount of fingernails we have to vacuum up is gross - it's a lot."

The Big Hoo-Haa was created by Longley after he spent two years in Chicago learning the tricks of the trade of improv comedy.

After herding together some of Perth's best comedians and throwing in a few props, Longley describes his first show in 2002 as absolutely nerve-racking, yet exhilarating.

"There were 100-plus people at our first-ever show and that was a surprise in itself. I just didn't know how we got that many people in there to begin with and almost from the word go they were laughing outrageously."

Longley and the Big Hoo-Haa are now preparing themselves for a 10th birthday celebration on the much bigger stage of His Majesty's Theatre. The gladiatorial-themed birthday performance will feature some of Perth's best comedians, including Damon Lockwood, Sean Walsh, Mike Djukic, Kerry O'Sullivan, Libby Klysz and Andrea Gibbs.

Longley says most of the performers are from the original cast 10 years ago, just disguised as gladiators.

"My hat goes off to all the performers who have been with us over the 10 years. It's a Roman gladiator theme because we can, because everyone looks good in a robe, if you're drunk enough."

Nerissa Campbell performs at Ellington’s jazz club on Friday and Saturday.

The West Australian

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