Sunday 15 October 2023

Jon & Jero: Improv Narrated By Comedians review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

In Improv Narrated By Comedians, improvisers Jon Walpole and Jeromaia Detto have a guest comedian on stage who via different improv games, narrates stories for them to perform. They have brought together a variety of guests including Virginia Gay and Nat Harris and on the night we attended, we were graced with the presence of the wonderful stand-up comedian Anna Piper Scott.  

Piper Scott and Detto have individually been reviewed by My Melbourne Arts and they are both talented and funny performers but in this format, on this night, along with Walpole, the elements did not come together with many golden rules of improv either not followed or present.

Making your partner look good is incredibly important with improv and coercing them to do a free handed front-flip on a small stage isn't supporting that practice. Instead of "yes and" 'ing suggestions, there is too much blocking and rejecting of ideas. There is also a lot of not listening to each other and their audience with audience suggestions being forgotten, incorrect character names being used and an inconsistency with establishing who characters are.

But the biggest problem with the show was castigating the audience for not giving "good suggestions" or not enough suggestions or for being too quiet. This will always make people less inclined to want to contribute to a show where they are being told off and it left an uncomfortable mood in the room.

Detto and Walpole have put together an interesting concept with Improv Narrated By Comedians, but its success rides on the comedians who are brought in having an awareness of what improv is and how to bring the best out of the form. Based on the evening in question, Piper Scott did not seem to acknowledge them, and nor did Detto and Walpole.

Perhaps it was an off night, admittedly they had some tough stories to work with, including Piper Scott's recollection of how long it took for her to be misgendered after she had top surgery, and a David Attenborough-esque documentary on slugs. In this instance it's probably a good thing that improv shows are always seen for the first and last time.

Show Details

Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton
Season: until 15 October | 9:45pm, Sun 8:45pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Concession
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image credit: Nick Robertson

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