by Laura Ferguson
The slideshow fades and a short film plays in it’s place. Sokhom and Thornton play about in a kitchen and the hilarity is already in full swing, the two ad-libbing their way through food preparation gone awry like the outtakes of a reality cooking show.. The film serves the dual purpose of warming the audience up, ready to receive Sokhom and Thornton in the flesh, and also to introduce The Hangry Americans in a Hollywood-epic, crescendo music, stars-and-stripes, CGR-effects maelstrom. The final image displaying the title is large block letters fading while the stage lights go up and we see Sokhom and Thornton lounging on a couple of beanbags eating Doritos and drinking beer out of red solo cups. We welcome their presence with hearty applause.
They are both very affable and it is easy to slip into their playful banter. The laughter of this comedy show never stops from the beginning and halfway through the first segment, my cheeks are already sore from overuse. Sokhom and Thornton create an ad-hoc meal that we could prepare in a hotel room. The unrehearsed quality of this part adds to it’s charm as it provides many moments of hilarity with various fumblings occurring in the small space.
This then gave way to Molly Sokhom’s solo stand-up. Sokhom is such a joy to watch on stage; she’s like that cool, older sister you always wanted. The one who tries new things to warn you off them and has crazy nights out that end in disaster and madness. Her comedy is full of vindicated agreement that has me nodding my head vigorously and gesticulating with open hands in a “Yes, why does that happen?!” or “Yeah, that is so annoying!” way. Sokhom has a tendency to bring the microphone closer to her mouth as she gets more intense, sometimes causing distortions of her words. This was a shame since her joking writing is absolutely tops, and being able to clearly hear her wisdom would make every nuance land.
Thornton epitomises the hangry part of Hangry Americans so well. He talks with an angry passion that conveys bemused exasperation. Where Sokhom’s work was laughing at our shared external annoyances, Thornton internalises his comedy. I turn my thoughts inwards and laugh as he describes himself deprecatingly, with Thornton it is more like, “Yep, I do that, too.” He shares self-consciousness with us and I think how brave that is, making his comedy feel genuine. And funny. So rib-crackingly funny. The way he poked fun at both American and New Zealand culture simultaneously showing the similarities and differences between them made me clap and laugh while nodding, exclaiming, “YES!” in agreement.
The Hangry Americans was a rock-and-rollicking good time, funny from start to finish. Molly Sokhom and Neil Thornton made me forget about these heavy political times and instead remember the greatness of the US. America is loud and fun and boisterous, and so are Sokhom and Thornton. My friends and I left smiling and happy. Bouncily, elatedly happy, hopped up on sugar and laughter therapy. If Doritos came in the flavour of Sokhom and Thornton, I’d eat a bag a day.