Now in its 25th year, the highly esteemed Celebrity Theatresports is a one-off each Comedy Festival, offering an evening of mostly-clean entertainment. Australian celebrities and Impro players go head-to-head in improvisation games, competing for points from ruthless judges to win the glory of the Theatresports trophy.
Performers include the likes of Michala Banas (Always Greener), Virginia Gay (Winners & Losers), Geoff Paine (Blue Heelers) and Toby Truslove (Laid), and the the four teams — Black Caviar, Fromage Retardants, Me Me Me and Cut Snake — give off endless energy and enthusiasm for the often ridiculous round. The fabulously dressed host is Simon Dowling, who is more charming than cheesy, literally leaving a trail of gold glitter behind as he runs around the crowd for ideas.
Completely unscripted, audiences see Michala Banas giving birth on a photocopier, Virginia Gay serenading an audience member and Rik Brown declaring he is “70 percent sausage”. Highlights include using an audience member’s text messages as a script and performers re-enacting their versions of the worst practitioners in every field.
There's an upbeat, community vibe about the night, with performers in other teams jumping in occasionally to help make things just that bit funnier — such as the entire group running to centre stage to act as a chorus in a Greek tragedy. It makes for family friendliness and interactivity from all ages.
Audiences are invited to contribute to each skit, which often determines the genre or subject that would be performed. A group of accountants in the front row were of particular entertainment. At times, the crowd spark as many laughs as the performers — their energy coming from the buckets of lollies thrown out each round.
Surprising, exciting and energetic, Celebrity Theatresports is worth keeping an eye out for in next year’s Comedy Festival program. If that’s too long to wait, a season of Theatresports has just been announced and will commence at the Space in Prahran on Mother’s Day (Sunday May 12).