For this weeks Online Show Of the Week we are talking to Brooke Hoerr of Big Smoke Comedy. When shows were in venues, this is a team that had a monthly show with a variety of acts performing. Whilst the world has had to learn to adapt to this new online world, the team has still be able to host shows. I speak to Brooke today to find out all about the shows they have this week!
Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Brooke Hoerr. I perform stand-up comedy, improvise, MC and curate Big Smoke Comedy.
Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?
Big Smoke Comedy presents a weekly show online involving three acts performing for ten minutes each using scripted material, something improvised, or both. Throughout the weeks, audiences experience comedic points-of-view from a wide variety of individuals both inside and outside the British Isles.
What times does it run throughout the day?
Our 50-minute show is online every Friday beginning at 2pm Chicago, 8pm London, 12:30am Kolkata (early Saturday there).
How much does it cost , what platform etc?
Our broadcast is free of charge and live every Friday on our Facebook page – Big Smoke Comedy. Additionally, audience members can join us within our Zoom room, if they like, by obtaining link details within the event listing. The benefit of joining us in the Zoom room is that you can enjoy shaping our acts with your warmth and laughter.
How was the project formed?
Big Smoke Comedy was formed as an artist collective and launching platform for emerging entertainers.
How has it been going so far?
So far, we laugh and connect with one another so I am elated with how it’s all going. London is a place where we can meet and talk with anyone from any corner of the world and Big Smoke Comedy, with our variety of acts, mirrors this phenomenon. Of course, being online now allows us to expand our conversation further to include even more diverse outlooks from outside our immediate geography. It’s been an honour to be involved with so many talented people and sometimes I smile and giggle so much the muscles in the back of my head hurt.
How do you rehearse for an online show?
With regard to rehearsing, we don’t. We trust those who we invite, first-and-foremost, as talented individuals. Performers often do something brand new and, candidly, the weirder the better. If you want to see very funny people in the process of actually discovering more of what is hilarious about themselves then you will enjoy this show.
With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?
Within the context of such a paradigm shift in how we interact with one another right now, the importance of what we do cannot be overstated. Comedy survives through such outlets as Big Smoke Comedy, especially the alternative kind. A favourite television channel, newspaper, or website may offer a comforting echo chamber to chuckle along in agreement, whereas Big Smoke Comedy offers you a line-up designed so there is always a part of our show you might hate, and if it gets you laughing at yourself then we’ve nailed it.
What are three things you have learnt about adapting to improv online?
One thing I’ve learned is that we are definitely not on the big screen, but rather quite the opposite. Often people are watching passively from their digital device as we come through in 2-D. It’s a great challenge for live entertainers to overcome and amazing for us to witness them do it each week. Secondly, performing online requires a lot more imagination from our audience, especially when improvisers are piping in from separate locations to perform to together; much more like a radio show, where viewers must picture improvisers together in a particular scene location. Of course, we can still enjoy the incredible expressions and clowning within this context. It’s all quite experimental. Thirdly, improvising online is bringing performers to a far wider audience beyond perhaps a usual network of fellow improvisers in a particular geographic area. In other words, we’re on a frontier converting new fans. It’s an opportunity for improvisers to be ambassadors toward others who might not have been very familiar with our art form. We gain far more viewers who may never have considered attending an improv show before, but then become pleasantly surprised. Ultimately, this brings us one step closer to our goal of improv taking over the world, which, of course, is what every improviser swears allegiance to at the end of our introductory coursework.
Even when shows are back in theatres in the future will you be considering doing any more online content?
Yes, it is highly likely we continue online as a complement to our theatre shows. Originally, Big Smoke Comedy launched over the internet as a healthy by-product, or ‘happy accident’, of miserable lockdown restrictions, but the joy is real. Performers and audience can login from a relaxed location, so the commute is unbeatable, too.
What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?
Over the next few weeks you can expect Big Smoke Comedy to continue showcasing geniuses, freaks, poets, outcasts, and other comedic legends-in-the-making.
If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?
To stay up-to-date with us, please, visit the Facebook page Big Smoke Comedy or reach out to me directly on that platform as well as at Brooke Hoerr.
Finally why should people get involved?
People should get involved because laughing your arse off is a great way to start the weekend, and if it doesn’t happen then we promise to refund the full price of your free ticket.