Liverpool Comedy Festival: Impropriety Presents The Happening

By Sean Broadhurst
Fri 22 September, 2017

An improvised spoof soap opera? Why not? Sean Broadhurst takes in episode one of Impropriety’s The Happening. 

On Monday, Impropriety performed the first of their six part soap opera, The Happening, an improvised spoof set in 60s Liverpool, focusing on a group of artists in the run up to the opening night of a grass roots arts club.

The moment we arrived at 81 Renshaw St we were given a taster of what was to come in the night. The room was packed and Tempest Minefield, already in character, asked us “Box or bench?

We dawdled, struggling somehow with a question as simple as “Where would you like to sit?” and the rest of the cast took this opportunity to surround us chanting, “Box or bench? Box or Bench?” It encouraged us to make a quick decision — much to the amusement of the waiting crowd.

Presented as an improvised soap opera, episode one of the The Happening focused on the antics of a group of artists in the run up to their opening show. There’s just one problem, they can’t afford to pay the rent and the venue owner won’t allow the show to go ahead until he gets paid.

The event began with a series of brief introductions to the characters; Roger Fuckoff, —sorry, it’s pronounced Roger F’koff — performed some of his poetry; Clayton Square drew a side-splitting laugh from the crowd when he concluded his intro by rolling off stage in a pair of Heelys, and Priscilla White’s introduction as the cleaning lady was as heart-warming as it was funny as she nervously fooled around on the stage imagining what it felt like to be a “real star”.

Each actor made the most of the 30 or so seconds they had to establish their characters and the tone that would be maintained for the rest of the evening.

It’s probably the easiest comparison to make, but the night was reminiscent of Whose Line is it Anyway? The narrator — who sounded uncannily like Miranda Hart — would set up the scenario and the actors would improvise; watching them throw curve balls to each other was easily one of the most amusing elements of the night.

One actor had to invent a set of rules for the venue, of which there were 12, and, as if that wasn’t hard enough, after he recited the first rule his fellow actors reminded him that “Rule two rhymed with rule one”. Most of the 12 rules were conveniently ignored but we’re more than happy to forgive Impropriety as rule 11 had to be spoken in an Irish accent whilst doing a jig, a moment that still had us laughing into our post-show pints.

Another element that contributed greatly to atmosphere was the willingness of the crowd to get involved with the action. They clapped, sang, and oohed and aahed, throughout the performance and in doing so the actors must have gotten a real sense of what was resonating with the audience, not that they really needed it, the only joke that noticeably bombed was immediately owned as the actor who made fun of the miss resulting in one of the biggest laughs of the night.

The night ended on a high, with the audience and cast singing an infuriatingly catchy song, think Europe’s The Final Countdown but the only lyrics to the chorus are ‘One, two.’— a running joke about the limited register of sound technicians which at one point was cleverly twisted to sound like “Want to” instead.

There are still five more episodes of The Happening and, because whatever storyline exists is only there to provide a frame for the spontaneous performance style of Impropriety, even if you missed episode one, we would recommend you go and enjoy the remaining episodes.

Will they pay the rent? Who knows, it’s all made up you’ll have to come and see The Happening for yourself and find out as it…uh…happens.

The next show will be on Monday 25th September at 81 Renshaw St. Tickets are £5 each.

  • Image: Impropriety’s Facebook page