Having grown up religiously watching Saturday Night Live, I thought I knew what to expect from a live sketch comedy show as I settled into my seat at the Improv Centre. Turns out, I did not — what I saw was way cooler. Hip.Bang! At Home featured two sketch comedy groups, HUNKS, a group from Winnipeg, and Hip.Bang!, a comedy duo based in Vancouver. HUNKS took to the stage to kick off the show.
Consisting of Tim Gray, Quinn Greene, Matt Nightingale and Dana Smith, HUNKS’ set was a whirlwind of joyful, playful and silly sketches that fully warmed my insides. The group expertly constructed scenarios that managed to tread the line between dark and light-hearted humour, by approaching dark or taboo subjects with childlike playfulness and enthusiasm. One sketch for example, featured a superhero called “Familyman,” a dad who failed pitifully as a hero during a bank robbery, but nevertheless was ‘super’ in that he’d be “cool with it if his son were gay,” and was always game to try out some “new slang.”
What made HUNKS such a pleasure to watch was the amount of fun they were clearly having while performing. Their aptitude towards silliness was very charming, and yet, I felt that each absurd or cartoonish move had been very carefully crafted and strategically placed, as the set was never confusing or too outlandish to be relatable. The audience was able to relax and enjoy the show knowing the next laugh was never far off.
Hip.Bang!’s set featured remarkably different themes from the first, which allowed for variety and a change of pace within the show. Consisting of Tom Hill and Devin Mackenzie, Hip.Bang!’s set took the audience on a total trip. The duo tackled the topic of surveillance and provided a hilarious and slightly eerie commentary on privacy (or lack thereof) in connection to our smart devices and reliance on social media. The duo used an ambitious amount of technology, creatively involving music, live video from multiple sources and several interactions with a Google Home smart speaker to produce countless shocking and hilarious moments where audience members discovered they themselves had become featured in the show, through various means of surveillance.
The show was underscored by some heart, as a rift formed in Tom and Devin’s relationship, in the midst of the technological chaos that surrounded them, only to be brought together again by the end of the set. The creative ways that Hip.Bang! made use of technology in this half of the show were very impressive and totally shattered my expectations of what sketch comedy is capable of producing.
The performances in this show were truly creative and unlike any other comedy show I have seen in Vancouver. Hip.Bang! At Home was an absolute blast.