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Head to this laughter riot by Bombay Harold's improve show at Khar this weekend

Updated on: 03 February,2023 10:54 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sukanya Datta |

India’s only group of long-form improv artistes will take the stage in Khar at an upcoming show

Head to this laughter riot by Bombay Harold's improve show at Khar this weekend

Improv artistes during the invocation of a gig

Satan appoints an evil dog to spread hatred around the world. Eventually, Satan and God forgive each other. A game show requires contestants to solve life problems by taking off their pants. After the series finale, the host is tasked with climbing a mountain pile of pants amassed over the years and the only way to breathe under it is, wait for it, by opening a zip. Crazy prompts like these are spun into crazier, but ridiculously believable narratives, at Bombay Harold’s improv shows. And this week, the group of seasoned long-form improv artistes is back with a gig titled Headliners that invites comedy-lovers to be a part of these stories. The group draws its name from The Harold — a structure used in the long-form improv style.

Bombay Harold performers at a previous showBombay Harold performers at a previous show

Much of the improv — unscripted, unplanned, spontaneous theatre created in the moment — that we see today is short-form, based on the hit comedy TV series, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, shares performing member of the group, Assad Khan. In the past year, led by Dr Michael Burns, artistic director, Bombay Harold, the collective — purportedly the only one of its kind in India — has been exploring The Harold. The format was first performed in 1967, by an improv troupe called The Committee in California. “In short-form improv, the performer can take multiple suggestions and the scenes are shorter. In long-form, suggestions from the audience are taken in the beginning. Then, they sit back and watch the show, which lasts between 45 minutes and an hour,” says Khan. 

Dr Michael BurnsDr Michael Burns

Typically, the gig kicks off with the performers taking in suggestions, which is followed by an invocation as the group begins to unpack the ideas, explore, interpret and present them back to the audience. There are three beats; in the first, there are three scenes, all exploring multiple stories and characters. The stories and themes are developed through the course of the show and tied together, elaborates Khan. Dr Burns believes that The Harold is the most challenging form of improv. “While you’re building engaging scenes on the spot, you’re also sowing the seeds for future versions of those scenes as they develop later in the show. All improv is difficult, but The Harold requires you to juggle balls while walking a tightrope. It requires you to be fully in the moment and anticipate moments to come in a satisfying and unexpected storytelling format,” he shares.

The artistes performing this weekend include Dr Burns, Khan, Avinash Verma, Alistar Bennis, Akriti Singh, Lincia Rosario, Sahir Mehta, Arjun Iyer, Karanveer Khurana, Rajiv Singh, Aditi Arora and Miten Udeshi. The group also invites enthusiasts to jam with them on Saturday mornings to understand the nuances of improv. 

Khan promises viewers a fun blend of storytelling and intelligent humour. While short-form improv is funny, long-form is impressive. “For me, as a performer, The Harold is a liberating experience. It’s a carefully constructed risk into the unknown,” he signs off.

On February 5; 8 pm  
At The Jeff Goldberg Studio, Khar West. 
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Cost Rs 400 onwards

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