Review: SOLID GOLD! An Evening of East and South East Asian Improv ★★★★
SOLID GOLD! is a joyful evening of giggles and gags that embraces both established and aspiring East and South East Asian comedians with welcoming warmth.
Energetically hosted by esteemed ESEA improvisers Vera Chok (Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, Chewing Gum; co-writer of The Good Immigrant) and Jon Nguyen (The Maydays, Comediasians), SOLID GOLD! entertains with an engaging evening of improvised comedy celebrating East and South East Asian Heritage Month (#ESEAHM23) – a month-long programming of collaborative and creative events dedicated to acknowledging ESEA heritage, culture, and history every September – which addresses the upsurge of Anti-Asian violence that resulted during the pandemic.
Chok and Nguyen enthusiastically bounce onto the stage, introducing the audience to an exciting line-up of performances by The 24 Carat Crew and The Nuggets, brand-new and debuting improv groups formed earlier in the day; Comediasians, UK’s premier Pan-Asian improv group; and Asian Improvocateurs, Chok and Nguyen’s first collaboration as professional improvisers while accompanied by an accomplished pianist.
Positivity abounds, and so do hilarious scenes, in both short and long form improv. Ridiculous confrontations between a couple in a jacuzzi. Salsa dancing as crunchy tortilla chips. And a pair of charismatic chopsticks attending a party, feeling saddest when, as the cheeky chopstick announces, ‘things slip through my fingers’. Performers, both experienced and new, sparkle in this supportive and silly space.
The highlight of the evening arrives when improvisers embody an Amazon Alexa in the form of the decolonized ‘Sanjeev’, answering questions like, ‘what is the definition of friend?’ Initiating an unscripted scene from the response, ‘Someone you meet on Insta’, Chok delights audiences with her character’s committed, yet outrageously kooky, failed attempts to differentiate ‘friend’ from ‘fan’. Impressive improvisers, spearheaded by Chok’s charm and Nguyen’s wit, consistently cheer the crowd.
As Chok mentions in an interview with To Do List, ‘working as a team, we learn how to celebrate ourselves and others’. SOLID GOLD! is certainly a celebration of the teamwork between ESEA comedians renowned and upcoming, as well as the fun and friendly community at Hoopla, which offers improv classes that welcome beginners with open arms.
Check out Comediasians & Friends! An Asian night of improv, stand up & audience jam at Hoopla Impro on September 20th, or head on over to The Miller for a pint and jump into a Hoopla improv class yourself!
Mary’s is completing a Masters of Arts in Theatre and Performance at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research engages specifically with feminist theory, disability justice, Indigenous Autonomy, and activism and protest. As an avid artist and performer – and former student of music theatre performance at Sheridan College in Oakville – she’s devising performance pieces that aim to find majesty in the mess.