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Hyprov: an absurd, hilarious ride

Christian Butler

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Hyprov, an extraordinary new show at Assembly George Square, combines improv comedy and hypnosis. Twenty volunteers from the audience are whittled down by hypnotist Asad Mecci to the five most suggestible. They are then asked to go toe-to-toe with a veteran improv comedian – the first half of the run featured Colin Mochrie, but he’s now been replaced by fellow Whose Line alumnus Mike McShane.

It’s often said that the trick to good improv is reacting naturally to the scene, rather than trying desperately to be funny. That’s why amateurs tend to get it so wrong. The hypnotised volunteers here are hilarious precisely because they think the scene is real. And, even if you’re sceptical about hypnotism, there’s no denying how hysterical the set up is.

The performance I caught included absurd premises, like dentists doing illegal dental work to sheep in the Wild West and a radio sound-effects man who can only make incorrect noises. It was incredible to see the hidden talents of the volunteers appear as if from nowhere. At one point, McShane thought it would be funny to challenge two of the volunteers to a dancing competition – one of them turned out to be a classically trained dancer.

Improv shows at the Fringe can often feel samey, featuring all the same games and techniques. Hyprov not only shakes up the format, it’s hilarious to boot. The best improv show at the Fringe this year.

★★★★★

Christian Butler is a writer based in London.

Hyprov: Improv Under Hypnosis is at Assembly George Square until 28 August.

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