Tony Ho / Hip.Bang! Theatre Centre, Toronto ON, March 10
Published Mar 11, 2016Tony Ho and Hip.Bang! were as surreal as they were funny. Venturing well beyond the boundaries of what is considered weird in comedy — by no means easy — the sketch groups travelled down peculiar avenues with ease and confidence.
Hip.Bang! based their entire performance around the idea that they were "pangeasexuals," people that are in love with literally everything they encounter. Consequently, their show was an exploration of the many varieties of love. Most memorably, the sketch duo acted out the mating of slugs while a naturalist narrated their actions. It was by far the most awkward sketch of the festival, but it was still funny in its discomfort. Contrastingly, the other sketches weren't nearly as gauche. Hip.Bang!'s sketch in which they explained that the main theme of the original Romeo & Juliet manuscript was pubic lice was zany, while their sketch involving a couple that broke up because one of them left their dirty underwear everywhere and even used a pair of them as an anniversary gift was simple but very funny. Moreover, their closer in which one of the pangeasexuals died from "dry skin and wet eyes" in the arms of his friend was amazing in its simultaneous ridiculousness and intimacy.
Hip.Bang! also read weird classifieds and missed connections they wrote that played like punchy one-liners throughout their show. The characters in these mini-vignettes ranged from someone who desperately wanted to find the person who borrowed a series of books that he needed from the library to someone who sought to reconnect with a man who ran over a cyclist. Silly and poignant, they threaded the scenes together effectively and provided a bit of light-heartedness amid numerous examples of dysfunctional love.
Tony Ho opened their set by singing a flamboyantly loud song about entertainment that ended with a sailor and firefighter stripping down to bloody underwear and revealing that they had cut off their genitals in an effort to please the audience. Hysterical in both senses of the word, it was the best sketch of the night. Nonetheless, the remainder of Tony Ho's set didn't feel anticlimactic. Their intensive "Would You Rather?" questions that caused an audience member to compare getting involved in an immoral business venture to eating a worm were uproariously elaborate. Moreover, their scene in which a father revealed to his rebellious son that he had a second family amusingly mocked teenage angst, and mined the name "fanny" for enjoyably immature laughs.