I’ve mentioned before my fondness and admiration for the art of improv and those who perform it. Improvisation is one of the most common learning tools for an actor yet it is also one that few can master. For comedians, it is rarer still to find someone talented enough to be a consistently hilarious improviser.
Jon Walpole and Jeromaia Detto are two such adept performers. As veterans of improv comedy, the two are individually hilarious and even better when they team up. ‘Jon & Jero’ performed earlier this year in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ styled children’s show titled ‘Stuff’. I was lucky enough to see this show and it was an exciting and fun filled performance which had both the kids and adults in the audience in stitches.
Their new show is something very different, coming off the back of their more child friendly performance. Jon & Jero: Improv Narrated by Comedians is a concept simple in explanation but rich in possibility. Each night Walpole and Detto will perform an almost completely improvised show with the aide (and sabotage) of different guest comedians. For opening night on Wednesday October 11th, the duo was paired up with another comedic team, brothers Tom and Josh Burton.
Jon and Jero don their signature monogrammed overalls (each marked with a ‘J’ to avoid confusion) but this is not a show for kids. Nothing is off limits and the night gets as raw as the guests and the audience want it to be.
I also just love the idea of ‘Jon & Jero’ as a brand being a double act which can work for all audiences. The same silliness which kept kids entertained also works incredibly well with more mature content for adults. With this current run of shows potentially, and likely, containing foul language, adult themes and who knows what else.
Warming up the show on opening night was a tale regale from the Burtons’ youth and acted out by Jon and Jero. An embarrassing story of a science class, one student showing off and a dacking leading to them showing off more than they bargained on! With this story, it becomes clear that not only does Jon & Jero: Improv Narrated by Comedians rely on the quick wits of Jon and Jero but also their guests.
From then, it was a variety of games and stories created with suggestions from the audience, adlibbed by the Burtons and acted out by Jon and Jero. Tanks were driven by Guinea pigs, Gordon Ramsay faced off with his nemesis Jamie Oliver (plenty of swearing there!), Darwin nightclubs were drenched in blood, and railway barons were betrayed by Macho Man Randy Savage!
The show is far from structured and went completely off the rails more than once. But this is what made the night so entertaining as it’s an hour of pure spontaneous comedy from masters of their craft. It felt like they were still ironing out the kinks with the timing, but again that’s perfectly fine. Walpole and Jeromaia being the gifted performers that they are, can simply pull ideas from the crowd and turn them into fried gold on the spot. Being supported by equally talented special guests such as the Burton Brothers on the night only added to the creativity on display.
Unfortunately, there were some technical issues with microphones going out and lighting cues being slightly off. But I must also credit fellow comedian ‘Conk‘ who was working the soundboard for the night and his ability to keep up with the pacing of the show and consistently surprising with the assortment of sounds at his fingertips. No sooner had an idea been pulled from nowhere that Conk had an accompanying sound effect ready.
Jon & Jero: Improv Narrated by Comedians is an unpredictable joyride. The audience were in hysterics and the best part about this production is that due to it being improv, every night will be a completely new experience. It was a pleasure watching such skilled entertainers jamming it out, trying to one up each other for all the laughs.
Jon & Jero: Improv Narrated by Comedians is currently playing as part of Melbourne Fringe 2023 at Festival Hub: Trades Hall, Evatt Room until October 15th.
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