Improv comedy is a tricky beast - when it’s good, it’s very, very good; when it’s bad, it’s pointless. There’s also a massive overabundance of improv acts around this year - 81 at last count - so it’s strange to see an established act, with a proven history of strong writing, willingly enter this maelstrom.
A pure improv performance by the veteran vinyl vaudevillians
This, however, is exactly what Boris & Sergey: Preposterous Improvisation Experiment is - a pure improv performance by the veteran vinyl vaudevillians, based solely on audience suggestions. But does it work?
Sort of. There’s no denying that Flabbergast are talented puppeteers and, after four years working with Boris and Sergey, they’ve got the physicality and flexibility of the puppets down pat. And there were some nice moments - Boris’s ongoing romance with a woman in the front row, a pitched wand vs. magic-umbrella-shield battle and the best impression of a cat and a cucumber I’ve see in a long time. My issue was that these moments were surrounded by a base rumble of swearing and dick jokes which, had they been told by human protagonists, wouldn’t really have been funny. It’s a frustrating problem which could have been solved by having even a simple basic plot to fall back on while waiting for inspiration to come.
With puppet improv, Boris and Sergey may be trying an interesting combination but, in doing both genres, it fails to do justice to the company’s obviously high capabilities. As a paying customer, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out - it’s just hard to shake the feeling that a better show would have resulted if the performers had realised this too.