Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha, Soho Theatre, 2023
Photo: Kit Oates
  • Comedy, Character
  • Recommended


Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

5 out of 5 stars

In this sublime show the hipster clown successfully cures her audience’s woes with bin fires, onstage showers and crowd-surfing

Georgia Evans

Time Out says

You have a nagging problem in your life, who are you turning to? Your friends? Your therapist? What about your favourite agony aunt? Ultimately, the concept is flawed because it’s impossible to expect some celebrity journalist to sort your life out. Getting a clown to do it makes just as much sense, really. 

Julia Masli’s widely acclaimed live agony aunt show was a runaway hit at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. On its opening night at Soho Theatre, the Estonian comedian comes out in a kind of deconstructed pantomime gown, bowling shoes and on her left arm, a full-sized mannequin leg with a microphone at the end. Beaming a light from the bike helmet on her head like a kind of ‘X-Files’ alien, she approaches audience members with laser-focus, asking, ‘Problem?’. The idea behind this wonderfully odd setup is that a problem shared is a problem halved. 

A clown by trade, Masli’s 2022 show ‘Choosh’ traced a migrant’s journey from Eastern Europe to the US through Chaplin-style slapstick. This nonsensical humour underpins her style of stunt comedy, yet you can’t escape the sense of real earnestness coming from our hipster host. She plays the part of an innocent, otherworldly naif with aplomb. 

The show is part-meditation (our host enters to the slow voiceover of ‘ha, ha, ha,’), part-group therapy session. And the direction of it is completely determined by the audience. Tonight, the issues range from the mundane ‘my dog barks at foxes’ to the all too relatable ‘my boss is shit’. Masali herself feeds into the solutions as best she can, while encouraging other audience members to share similar experiences and ultimately ‘cure’ whatever issues are presented. 

As the audience settles in, the problems get deeper. And the results are quite magical. A suited man says he feels misunderstood, which Masli counters with, ‘me too, just look at me’ before burning his tie in a bin. Someone who wishes he could swim faster but can’t because of his ‘heavy legs’ ends the night by having a shower on stage. And a mother who feels like her children are brats – they call her by her first name – crowd-surfs up the almost-vertical seats of Soho Theatre’s main room. You can’t help but want to be picked on, Masali’s leftfield solutions and earnest charm make all the weirdness feel like child’s play. 

If you have an issue in life, it’s almost too easy to pen an anonymous letter to Phillippa Perry in the hopes of a sort of useful response. But that’s not going to do anything. The best remedy to your woes? Getting up on stage in front of a room full of strangers, admitting your kids are assholes and crowd-surfing through a sea of strangers.


£20-£31. Runs 1hr
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