Mantaur’s Rob Johnson and Harry Milas share audience participation stories

Sydney performers Rob Johnson (you may know him from Squabbalogic’s Sondheim on Sondheim and Carrie) and Harry Milas (he’s a magician) are Mantaur, a comedy duo and improv force to be reckoned with – they’re the Australian representatives in the Theatresports World Cup, coming up at the Sydney Comedy Festival.

They’re also bringing their new show Premium Fresh! to the Enmore Theatre this week, also part of the festival. It’s an entirely improvised, hour-long narrative that involves an audience member’s story about their day (Mantaur will try to predict their dream that night).

Mantaur are coming to the Sydney Comedy Festival.
Mantaur are coming to the Sydney Comedy Festival.

What else could we do but ask the pair to tell us their Top Five Best/Worst Audience Participation Moments? Take it away, Mantaur!

Only three of these stories are true – but which ones? Fax your responses to Mantaur for a chance to WIN!*

  1. Harry needed a volunteer for a mind reading stunt. He chose two people out of the darkened audience, only to find he had called up Rob’s brother and cousin. They proceeded to antagonise and sabotage the show while Rob sat at the side of the stage heckling Harry for his inability to take control of the situation. It later emerged that they had been genuinely confused by Harry’s instructions and hadn’t meant to derail the act. This made it even more bewildering.
  1. Harry and Rob did a show that required an audience member to speak about their life, including their aspirations and goals. The lady on the night in question was acting very suspicious and evasive, and it turned out she had made up the answers to every question we’d asked. We thought we were friends and she lied to our faces. The nerve.
  1. Harry was performing an illusion where he stabs himself with a large needle. One person was so offended by the routine she pleaded loudly for Harry to stop. Harry refused, and aggressively maintained eye contact while blood spurted from the wound. Please note that this was a magic trick. A disturbingly realistic one.
  1. Some bank robbers once tried to use a really, really big trapdoor in our stage as an escape route. The robbery was a failure but they turned out to be fantastic tap dancers. They actually joined us onstage for a full rendition of 42nd Street. We danced the night away big time, and then Gene Krupa brought it home with his really long version of “Mack The Knife”. When interrogated about the incident, Rob said: “It was so great. So great.”
  1. Rob once played a ghost onstage. An audience member got up and fell right through him! Later they found the real Rob in the basement bound and gagged. Was it a real ghost on stage? Harry won’t tell.

* Ed note: there are no prizes. Also, stop faxing.

Mantaur: Premium Fresh! and The Theatresports World Cup are part of the Sydney Comedy Festival. To book tickets to see the mischievous, magical pair, visit

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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