Laugh co-op

• Members of Only The Human, a unique Perth imrpov group.

A NEW ground-breaking improv group will tackle the lack of diversity and female-friendly venues in Perth’s comedy scene.

Only The Human will be the first improv co-operative in WA, with members deciding what artistic direction it should take and how it should be run.

Any money generated from classes or shows will be ploughed back into the co-operative.

OTH director Aden Date says they started out as a not-for-profit, but soon realised they needed a more collegiate approach.

“We love improvising because it’s an art form rooted in collaboration, equality and deep listening,” he says. 

“We wanted to become a cooperative because that allows us to take what we’ve learned from playing together and apply it to how we run the organisation.

“The original organisation was set up in 2015 to explore more experimental comedy in Perth. 

“We believed the scene was dominated by large venues and male-dominated standup. 

“We wanted diversity in the comedy scene, of performers and performances alike. 

“That part of our mission continues today under the cooperative structure.”

The co-operative will be launched at the group’s mini comedy festival Only Us Humans, held at the old Naval Stores in Fremantle from November 26 to December 17.

There’ll be four shows including an improv night, a sketch night and the intriguingly-titled “Anarchist’s Ballroom”, where just about anything can happen.

Date hopes to get about 70 members from the festival’s unofficial recruitment drive.

“We saw the festival as a way to get people used to a cooperative way of doing things, where members take initiative on projects they care about,” he says.

“The festival provides an opening for people to form their own teams, hone their artistic voice and present something back to the rest of the community. 

“We’re holding it in the Naval Store because Enkel, who are currently leasing it, are also a cooperative organisation and share our desire for a regenerative economy and culture.”

With covid-19 altering the way we live, Date says comedy has always helped society deal with unprecedented change.

“We think improvisation, playfulness and comedy are important in times of transition,” he says.

Improvisation was born as an art to help America see itself during the late-50s and early-60s – it helped midwife the sexual revolution and the civil rights movement.

“It helped Americans see the absurdities of the cold war and the space race. Today we believe that improvised comedy can bring lightness, imagination and collaboration. 

“These are all essential for creating a new, post-covid world together.”

Only The Human also run improv classes, and workshops for businesses who want a more flexible approach to problem-solving.

To find out more about Only The Human, and to buy tickets to its comedy festival, go to onlythehuman.com

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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