Born in the US twelve years ago, BATSU! makes its Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2023 – and it’s unclear how we have survived so long without it. Life was truly incomplete before chanting ‘Batsu!’ as the improv comedians are punished with paintballs, electric shocks, and rubber bands large enough to be used by Nessie.

Designed in the style of Japanese ‘penalty games’, the showrunners envelop you in the experience from the very first moment. You’re encouraged to raise your hands and shout along while entering the space, as two ‘ninjas’ perform comedic hijinks and fill your glasses with sake (if you buy the headband). The energy in the room is electric, your curiosity piqued. You’ve no idea what you’re getting into, but you’ll be so glad you did.

Several rounds of improv games follow, with audience participation, testing the four game-show contestants’ impressive quick thinking and comedic chops. The winner gets points, while the loser gets punished. Guest appearances include Cinnaman, the human–horse in a thong; the show’s mascot, a chicken; and Ballerinbro, a no-nonsense ballet teacher whose eyes you’ll find hard to meet (for more than one reason). It’s ridiculous, hilarious, sexy, gross – really, it’s addictive. Although each BATSU! show lasts two hours, you’ll want it to never end.

The show could easily veer into cringe territory, but the sincerity and enthusiasm with which the contestants, host, guest stars and even the audience treat the concept make it a joy to watch. It’s a brilliant interactive comedic experience that can be enjoyed solo, in groups, sober, or with a drink in your hand.

BATSU! runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Underbelly Cowgate – Belly Dancer at 22:45