Friday, 25 March 2011


A few people have asked why I went for the American spelling of 'Improv' and not the British 'Impro'. Some even seemed a little hurt that I'd betrayed my impro roots and defected to the other side (of the Atlantic). One tiny little V holds the potential of some serious debate, so lets clear things up.

Eleven years ago when I first came across improvisation in the form of Baby Wants Candy at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, I remember over-hearing a couple of friends of mine arguing about whether it should be shortened to Improv or Impro. I thought at the time.. what's the difference? It's only a word.

The two are quite different, I think. In general (and this is very general), Improv from over the pond is fast-paced, snappy long-form, aimed at being funny and crazy. It's had more years to become an established form of entertainment, with bigger audiences made up of people wanting to see the latest graduating class of Harold training or improv-trained alumni. The list of American and Canadian improvisers is as long as an Improvathon with big Hollywood names like Bill Murray and Amy Poeler. And Chevy Chase.

British Impro is - for a start - still finding it's footing. You won't find a TV Special of The Upright Citizens Brigade with huge comedy/film stars like Tina Fey, but you might find an episode of Showstoppers on Radio 4 and re-runs of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Dave (at least half of which performers are North American). Non-commercially there seems to be a deeper investigation in to character depth and progression, realistic story arcs and reference to the longer heritage of British theatre. And I'd much rather watch Clive Anderson present 'WLIIA?' than Drew Carey.

Of course, this is totally general and I wish no disrespect to anyone working hard at this awesome, explosive, wonderful art-form. This is my passion and anyone who is putting effort into doing this stuff well would get a big fat cuddle from my chubby arms. There are similarities at every turn and the basic rules of good improvisation don't change. For every Die Nasty Improv Soap Opera there is an Austentatious Impro Novel. For every Curt Hatred there is a Reckoning. For every BassProv there is a Katy & Rach. Brilliant groups, all with individual styles, but with nuances of similarities.
For every 'Yes and...' there is a 'Yeah and...'

Yeah, and... they're all ace.

I called the site London Improv solely for internet search reasons. That's it. London Impro would only be found on Google if you searched for 'London Impro'. London Improv can be found if you type in London Impro and London Improv. I'm not betraying my routes, I'm just improving our Search Engine Optimisation, and that's better for everyone. And also geeky as hell.

Picture courtesy of Rapid Fire Theatre, Edmonton

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