Above: Cast of ‘Sit and Com’ gave an energetic impro performance. Featured image : Sydney-based comedy duo Nick and Tom. Photo credit: Emma Wiltshire.

A new monthly double-bill performance event has kicked off at The Vanguard in Newtown. The candid live comedy and performance night, Nice Twice, full of spur-of- the-moment choice and audience particpation resonated well with the crowd in the warm vibe of the Vanguard.

The night began with Nick and Tom’s Sit and Com, an impro romp complete with commercial breaks and with a keen, energetic cast to match. Verbal queues from the audience were quickly taken at the outset and woven into a lengthy impro episode to start the night.

Having seen musical impro before it was  rewarding to see musical and spoken word impro combined here as the tale of hope, love, career development and fortune hinging on a carefully positioned rubber duckie twisted and turned before us.

The overall flow for ‘Sit and com’ was impressive in its energy and freshness-including slick segues between scenes. The moments went the troupe morhed into commercial  break style moment. This was an evenly paced and performed episode with audience reaction being strong and on cue.

We followed extemporised scenes concerning striking oil in a suburban duplex, the hazards of smoking and working in the tobacco industry, falling in and out of love, experimenting with parenthood, international travel and the persuasive nature of hors d’oevre boards on harsh landlords.Ensemble members  Nick  Harriott, Tom Waddell, Steph Ryan, Allana Duncan, Alex Reynolds and Elliot Ulm worked well with each other with admirable impro variety and timing.

The second part of this Nice Twice night was ‘Karate Man’, an established fringee arts festival and performance success. This segment of the double bill built nicely on the existing bubbly momentum  and reception in the space.

Above: Cast of  ‘Karate Man’ entertained the audience as they kicked back and passed the game controller around.

The very interactive ‘Karate Man’ /Patrick character leapt onto the stage and was well directed by the crowd to extend his vintage screen character to an improvised now. This was a pointed trajectory from domestic chores to fantasy warrior, from 198X to 20XX. The audience passed the controller around to make Karate Man charge, kick, duck down, jump, throw, punch and react at all speeds, making for some fun visual comedy and lots of options for on-the-spot outcomes.

The stage ensemble impro interacting with audience game players had excellent synergy.  Sound effects, voice over controller commands and actors’ commentaries added to the fun feel.

All of these elements made for a random mesh on stage that brought us all together with a broad range of character strengths, capabilities, challenges and traditional comedy antics spread right across the stage.

Game boys/girls and choose your  own home chore adventure experts in the crowd eagerly explored choices and ways of conquering the enemies with selected movements to get through any level’s scenario.

This was theatre melodrama seen through the lens of  gaming  familiarity. The in-house controller outcomes kaleidoscope seemed to please the assembled. Like the Sit and Com, it also is a performance model which can be revisited many times over with fresh outcomes.

We saw Karate Man do army basic training, clear the garage, protect BTS in Seoul in an audience controlled series of physical and mental risks.  all were worthy of a K-Pop Karate Man fan band member who survives the dangers.

Karate Man’s idle, static moments and commanded ‘special’ movements were particularly watchable, as were the hero’s attempts to win fights, thoughts, emotions, sustainability test and socially acceptable relationship battles.

This physical challenge segment in the Nice Twice double bill was very well handled by this night’s Karate Man aka Bruno Dubosarasky, from the sketch group BEAK he performs in alongside Daniel Scarratt. This pair was supported well by onstage crew Steph Ryan, Tim Dunk, and Maddie Atkins.

This alt, absurdist instalment to kick off the Nice Twice event at the Vanguard made for a great midweek night. There was an energetic flow filling the venue with a unique  atmosphere. as drinks and pizzas fuelled the comedy and games night. Streamlining the event to a neat 1.5 hours could make it a more compact entertainment success. However, the guided, create as you go comedy and live feel was refreshing. It deserves a place in our weekly routine.

Adding a bonus level to this performance night is that the event financially supports the “Pay The Rent” programme                                                ( -a  very worthwhile cause benefitting from the action and impro or comedy talents onstage.

This event was the launch of the ‘Nice Twice’ concept, which will take place on the second last Wednesday of every month.