Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Is "The Harold" for Improv Cheaters?

Group Mind Defined

In a broader sense group mind is a collective intelligence to which all have access. The concept is rooted in psychologist, Carl Jung's idea of a collective unconscious that all share. By the way, Carl Jung also introduced the idea of synchronicity and other models of thinking that turn chance into meaning.
More specific to improv, the term, in its most simplistic sense, is usually applied to mean everyone coming together from very different places, at the same time, with the same thought(s) - completing one another's sentences or anticipating a scene partner's next move.

Short Cuts (Or Cheating)?

Pre-show warm-ups are designed to encourage the emergence of group mind by eliciting open, receptive listening in the performers, while structures like The Harold, prime performers with a common set of rules and expectations, so each improviser knows what the show's basic structure will be ahead of time.
Furthermore, after practicing for a while, performers of a certain improv school of thought, aim to develop a menu of games that might be played out in a scene. Knowing the game enables the performer to quickly hone in on what is happening in a scene. But, does it lead to stereotypes and cliched scene work or, at the very least, scene work that is not as fresh and original as it would be without these contrivances?
Purists might say that pre-planned show structures and scene strategies, and the experiences they yield for the audience and performers, is no more a testament to the existence of a group mind than a "paint by numbers set" is an indication of artistic talent.
It's true that human animals like to categorize and make assumptions. Perhaps we can't help ourselves most of the time. We see a blond girl in a college sorority and our minds immediately label/categorize/stereotype. Once those initial judgments are in place, its much harder, and we often lack the inclination to, dig deeper than our our shallow, often false, initial appraisals.
Which begs the question: Do improv scenes suffer the same fate, when artificial structures and strategies cause performers to make snap judgments?

by Israel Savage.
original article:

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Everybody wants to rule the world: This week at The London Improv Comedy Club

Yo. What's up? Yo. Hello there. Yo.

We so fly, we make shows. Like fly shows, featuring tiny little winged fellows jumping about and juggling and that. We also do comedy and improv. Not with flies, though, but with human flies leaping from tree to tree with only your laughter as a cushion should they fall. Come, support and enjoy. They do it for you.

And it's the last week of February, which can mean only one thing. If you're an NUS or NHS cardholder it's your last week of free shows. So don't waste it.

Tuesday 28th February
Arthur are here. Here Arthur are. Are Arthur here? Here are Arthur. Bustin' out their short-form thang, games and scenes from the newest troupe called Arthur in town.

Arthur has a ball. A red ball. A big red ball.

They'll be followed by a mighty Improvised Musical from those intrepid songsters Music Box (@musicboximprov). If it's adventure you want you can't get much better than this, as the brightly dressed folk take your offers and create a magical story out of their imaginations.
"A real improvised musical with narrative, genuinely good songs, sometimes moving, very funny songs and all that stuff that people work on for years writing a musical."
- Earls Court Festival

Tuesday 28th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NHS/NUS cardholders.

Wednesday 22nd February

Catch23 is a improv comedy show in which three teams of improvisers fight the hell out of each other using God's intended weapons of wit and dick-jokes.

They each have twenty-three minutes across four rounds to pull their best improv out of the bag and onto the stage, where it is voted on by you! The audience! Totally unfairly!

This Wednesday the cast includes such awesome greats as Charlotte Gittins (Monkey Toast), Jana Carpenter (Spontaneity Shop, Doctor Who's Line Is It Anyway?), Herman Gambhir and Lauren Silver (Impropriety), Ryan Miller (Marbles), Jinni Lyons (8bit) and our very own Jonathan Funkhouse (in bed).

Expect nothing less than improvised warfare on a nuclear scale (very small).

Wednesday 29th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NUS/NHS card holders
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.


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Monday, 20 February 2012

OMG! I can watch WHO this week?!: at the London Improv Comedy Club

This week sees the arrival of very special guests (one confirmed, two up in the air). We interviewed Jacob Banigan last year, and his wit and experience were awe-inspiring. The other guys, well, we'll see... but if you haven't heard of them, you've been in the wrong plane of existence for TOO LONG, BROTHER.

If you want to be first to know, follow us on Twitter (@London_Improv) or on Facebook.

Tuesday 21st February
Here Arthur go again. Wheeling out their new games-based show. It's like they've made a new version of Who's Line Is It Anyway? for the 00's. Except now it's 2012, so it's even more updated. To be honest, we'd fully expect them to turn up in the USS Enterprise, or a DeLorean, brandishing laser-psychic legs and hover-joy. They're just so modern.

They will be followed by HMS OMG! - the kings and queens of The Wilmington Players impro community, puttin' out their fungasms for all to enjoy.

Tuesday 21st February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NHS/NUS cardholders.

Wednesday 22nd February

Horse Aquarium are one of the most experienced and brilliant groups in London. Briony, Paul and Tom have been working together for years and recently held a regular spot at the Leicester Square Theatre.

They will (hopefully) be joined by special secret guests who are in town at the moment. We can't reveal who they are at the moment as they have a very busy schedule, but we truly believe that if 1000 people keep their fingers crossed between now and Wednesday, they'll make it.

The Horses will be supported by The Wilmops, those fine chaps who improv at The Wilmington Arms. They specialise in quick-fire comedy improv. It's like stand-up sketch, and it's made up on the spot. That's the holy comedy trinity, and it's all on stage on Wednesday. All at once.

Wednesday 22nd February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NUS/NHS card holders
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.

Thursday 23rd February
GTI is delighted to welcome the legendary Jacob Banigan, who is over in the UK for a brief and rare visit.

Jacob began improvising over 20 years ago in Edmonton, Canada, with the revered Rapid Fire Theatre. He has taken first place in many international Theatresports competitions, including the 2006 TS World Cup, Münich Impro Cup, Berlin Impro Cup, Atlanta World Domination (solo), as well as the Austrian National Championships many times over.

He is a veteran of at least twelve 50-Hour Soap-a-Thons in Canada and London. Currently he lives in Austria, performing with Rocket Sugar Factory, English Lovers and Theater Im Bahnhof.
“Ingenius impro theatre, from someone who knows what he’s doing, when he doesn’t know what to do” – Kleine Zeitung
What more do you need to know? Email to reserve tickets.

Thursday 23rd February
Time: Doors 8:15pm, Show 8.30pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £7 on the door, or reserve


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Saturday, 18 February 2012

What Do We Actually Want From Improv On Television?

Jules Garnett works in film production, has improvised regularly with Friendly Fires and Ludus Ludius, and is currently creating an improvised karaoke show.

Let’s face facts: television may be considered culturally passé by many, but it’s still an incredibly effective means of gaining exposure. If something is on television, it’s in the public consciousness, and is thus elevated elsewhere.

There have been two major attempts at improv formats on British television recently: the BBC’s ‘Fast and Loose’, and Dave’s ‘Improvisation My Dear Mark Watson’. Both were fairly strongly rejected by the improv community. I don’t want to waste time with what I consider to be the failings of these shows (save to say that the name of the latter is abysmal), but for a number of reasons, they weren’t considered successes by us talk-backers.

Now, the BBC is taking another crack at it with ‘@cuff’. My feeling from reading the synopsis (for what little it might be worth) is that this show looks well cast, but the gimmick of tweeting/updating suggestions reads like a desperate attempt at appealing to a young, net savvy crowd. I hope it’s better than that would suggest, but I’ve been in enough pitching sessions to know where these things come from.

Regardless, I have to wonder what the improv community actually wants to see from television improv. In essence, how do you want the form represented?

More specifically:
Does it matter that content reflects the types of things happening in clubs/theatres?
Should it try to be new/different/experimental, or is it okay to do the same types of things that have been done before, as long as they’re done well?
Does it matter whether short form (much more typical for television) or long form is represented?
If long form, does it matter whether it’s single-suggestion uninterrupted (Harold shows,’ Music Box’, etc) or called/directed (‘Showstopper’, ‘Lights, Camera, Improvise’, etc)? Does it matter whether it’s narrative driven, or consistent of thematically linked scenes?

I’m more interested to find out what you think (and if there’s any consensus) than prescribe my own doctrine, but I will say one thing about originality. I watched GSN’s ‘Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza’, and tired of it pretty quickly. It wasn’t that there was any issue with the quality of the show’s content, but I felt that I’d just seen it all before. The fact that there was a bigger cast and a drunken audience didn’t seem to make a lot of difference.

I’d like to treat this as something of an online think tank, so please discuss below and we’ll get to the bottom of this.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long Form Improv? Jason Chin FTW!

Neil Curran is founder and chairman of No Drama Theatre and Laughalot Improv in Dublin, a movie lover, Tinnitus sufferer and misunderstood genius.

I spent last weekend braving the Siberian weather in the UK and attending a Long Form improvisation weekend of workshops with Jason Chin. Jason hails from the infamous iO Theatre in Chicago where he has been involved with improv for over 15 years. He has held the positions of the iO Associate Artistic Director, as well as the Director of their Training Center. Jason created the improvised news satire, Whirled News Tonight, which has been running for over 8 years. He is the author of "Long-form Improvisation and the Art of Zen", Jason was in the UK as a guest of The Maydays.

Or in short, he has the credentials!

My inability to read emails correctly resulted in me arriving in the UK on a Thursday night, for a course that would not kick off until Saturday morning. I spent the Thursday night and Friday taking in the local offerings in Cambridge. Those offerings consisted mostly of snow and cold though. And a search for a scarf.

But I digress. So after a miserable night’s sleep I rose from the dead early on Saturday morning to take a train to London. My destination was “The Nursery” in Southwark. (Note to Irish readers, it is not pronounced South Wark!) An upbeat Jason greeted us at the door and in total there was about 16 of us ready to get stuck in! There were a couple of familiar faces from my previous improv adventure with the Maydays in Leela as blogged about here.

But lets talk about the venue, The Nursery. It was as if the room was built under a railway bridge, with the walls filled in cement and a door added. No, this is not a metaphor, the room really was under a railway bridge! The room was cool and quirky. But, it had no heating. And it was freezing! Thanks to the brainwaves of one of the participants, a few phone calls later we had a flurry of portable heaters which helped to stave off some of the cold by lunchtime. Every little helps!

So Jason gave us an introduction and we got stuck in. After a couple of warm up exercises, we spent most of the day (and the following day) in a variety of open scenes. It was quickly obvious that most people in attendance were experienced improvisers and some people perform regularly. The talent on display was excellent and equally hilarious! But Jason brought an additional edge to the proceedings. He is a fantastic teacher, very attentive and offers great insight into improvisation with his thoughts and feedback. His ability to plants seeds in your head brought out very fruitful results on stage. Jason put much emphasis on emotional reaction and the +1 and it was as if everything just ‘made sense’!

I personally find performing improv, especially long form, very liberating. The concept of “Group Mind” during a scene creates a strong bond between performers and the experience and energy becomes shared. There were many hugs, claps and back pats after each scene which only serves to highlight the enjoyment and bond that performing together brings. While you become used to it with your own troupe, its rejuvenating to experience it with new people.

There were so many great scenes over the 2 days (and probably even more during the showcase on the final day which due to my flight home, I missed), many colourful characters and hilarious quotes. Moments like when during a scene Jesus cries, “If I can’t repair a rusty hinge how am I expected to perform miracles!” Or after a scene involving a character receiving a banana on his birthday, Jason asked Andrew how he felt in the scene and Andrew replied, “Was that before banana or after banana?” All classic spontaneous moments!

I met some great people over the 2 days and I’m looking forward to meeting again, be it on stage or viewing from the audience. I’m also looking forward to my US trip in 2013 when Chicago is on the agenda!

Every time I attend or partake in anything improv related in the UK, I am inevitably filled at some point with jealousy at how large and cohesive the improv scene is there compared with Ireland. Its not that we don’t have great improvisers in Ireland, we have some great talent too. But we need more troupes, more venues willing to open their doors to improv and we need to raise the profile of improvisation in Ireland to a higher level.
To quote a friend who used to perform with me in improv shows, “I told people in work that I have done improv before, and thoroughly explained exactly what this entails. Despite this, many a conversation has been started with the line: ‘Did you know Dave did stand-up?’”

But lets not end on a downer. A fantastic weekend of improv with great people and great tutoring was had. If you have a chance to train with Jason in Chicago or indeed The Maydays in the UK, just do it!

You can follow Jason’s blog here

You can visit the Mayday’s website here

You can get in touch with Neil here

Monday, 13 February 2012

Stop Making Sense, and ‘Yes and’ your way to joy

Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense gig kicks off with a humbleness that’ll be familiar to any improviser: there’s a pair of feet, and they’re ambling their way on to an empty stage. There's your taste of showbiz, chief, deal with it. Okay, the stage here is massive, as is the crowd, who are actually cheering, and the feet happen to belong to art-funk god David Byrne, but still it’s all remarkably low-key: with a bare lightbulb above his head and the raw skeleton of theatre exposed behind him, Byrne plonks down his boom-box and introduces himself apologetically: ‘Hi, I’ve got a tape I want to play you.’ Given that the show was directed by Jonathan Demme, the guy behind Silence of the Lambs, you wonder what’s going on. Surely it’ll be more than a gawky bloke busking Psycho Killer, albeit expertly, while strumming along to a tape deck?

On track two, the ‘yes and’ kicks in: yes we’ll take Byrne and his guitar as a building block, and add Tina Weymouth on bass, fleshing out the sound for a low-key rendition of Heaven. On track three, the ‘yes and’ kicks it up another notch, when a team of black-clad ninja stagehands push on a platform carrying drummer Chris Frantz. Yes I may look like an art teacher, he says, but I’ll take that funk, and I’ll add some beats. By the time Jerry Harrison comes on with his rhythm guitar, bringing a new level of drive for Found A Job, the lights are low and the gig is starting to fire: entirely consistent with Byrne’s initial offer, but by now a very different beast, the product of patient, focused building.

Talking Heads only have four members. But this tireless ‘yes and’ is not to be stopped by mere maths. Oh no. Nearing the end of Found A Job, out comes a keyboard for Harrison. And a percussionist. And two guest backing singers. Then Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist from Funkadelic. And more percussion. And another guitarist. When we reach Life During Wartime, we’ve ascended into a glorious and irresistible writhing funk orgy. By the end Byrne is a madman, running laps of the stage as his harem tread rhythmically on the spot, like they’re leading us all to an ecstatic future, where we dance with the animals and rhythm is the world currency (and thus bears can buy chips).

Soon Byrne is serenading a lamp-shade, donning his infamous Big Suit, and becoming an ad-man cum preacher for Once In A Lifetime, while huge screens beam images of bookcases and random words like Onion. It’s all pretty epic and magical. When they round off the Cross-eyed and Painless finale, the sweat-drenched singer ushers the crew out onto stage to share in the applause. The sound men have their arms round each other. Meanwhile the audience has decided to sack off the earthly realm entirely in favour of a purely light-based existence.

To be honest it's just a really good gig, expertly conceived and executed. But as an illustration of what we’re aiming for with improv, it does make total sense. Imagine the crowd leaving that show. What a ride. We may start with an empty stage, without any ideas - let alone Jonathan Demme and a $1.3m budget, or even a tape deck - but if we can carry our audience on a trip from such humble beginnings to even a smattering of that joy, then we’ve done our job. As to whether the show needs to make any sense, that's up to you.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Imagine Your Girlfriend with Arthur and a Cat: this week at The London Improv Comedy Club

Hey, guys.
Sssshhh... It's that week of love where all the couples run off to restaurants and slurp each other in public, and all that gross stuff you don't want to have to put up with when you're JUST TRYING TO LIVE YOUR LIFE. But we can work it to our advantage; it means we can have a comedy club all to ourselves. While they're out having arguments about who spent more money on their valentine's gift, we can just go out and have a laugh. Way better.

Join us for love: the love of comedy.

Tuesday 14th February
Fat Kitten present "Speed Dating", but thankfully it won't be the aforementioned canoodling that this action-packed show will contain. It'll be jokes and witticisms, all improvised of the top of the Fat Kitten-heads.

They will be accompanied on stage by Imagine If You Will, improvising a whole tale of whimsy and wonder. It could be magical, it could be a fairy tale, it could have giant death-monsters in it... okay, it could be anything.
CAST INCLUDES: Michael Brunstrom, Luke Beahan and Steve Roe

Tuesday 14th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NHS/NUS cardholders.
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.

Wednesday 15th February

Arthur are BACK! Yep, the collective of new and experienced improvisers jump up and display their new selection of new games. They've made them all on their own. They are new. New games, new group. It's like a new 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' except it's newer. So very new.
Steve Roe directs a new group. Who are new.


Then awesome all-girl group Your Girlfriend present their short/longform mash-up show. Games turn into stories and back again in this amazing show from some incredibly experienced improvisers.
Charlotte Gittins (Monkey Toast)
Briony Redman (Horse Aquarium)
Kelly Finnerty (is Californian)
Jana Carpenter (Spontaneity Shop)
Arthur and Your Girlfriend, sittin' in a tree...
M.A.K.I.N.G. S.O.M.E. C.O.M.E.D.Y...
Wednesday 15th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NUS/NHS card holders
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.


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How Do You Do Dat Zen?

For the last 10 days, zen-improv master Jason Chin has been in the country working with The Maydays and a load of other awesome improvisers. On Sunday, everyone above collaborates for one amazing showcase.

Join The Maydays and The Chinnites for FREE at the newest improv venue in town: The Nursery.

A student of Del Close, Jason Chin has been performing, directing, and teaching improvisation in Chicago since 1995. He was Director of the Training Center and Associate Artistic Director to the iO Theater for eight years and is the author of "Longform Improvisation & the Art of Zen". His creation, Whirled News Tonight, an improvised news satire, recently celebrated eight years of continuous performances.

Sunday 12th February
Time: Doors 6pm, Show 6:30pm - 8:30pm with interval.
Cost: FREE
Where: Arch 61, Ewer Street, SE1 0NR


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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Real TV and Therapy: This Week at the London Improv Comedy Club

We're so far into 2012 now it seems like it's nearly over. Time ticks away on your life as sure as eggs is eggy, so here's the choice: you can spend it inside crying at your laughable sense of self-worth, or you can get out into the free world, to a live comedy night where you can laugh at/with other homo sapiens.

I like using the words 'homo sapiens', it sounds a bit rude but it's also scientific. Students and nurses know about both those things, and they also get in TOTALLY FREE to our events in February (bring your IDs). Winner.

Tuesday 7th February
Another team from the new short-form crowd in town Arthur provide entertainment in the form of crazy new games and scenes, reminiscent of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (classic). They'll do a selection of old and new games, some so new that you can't even imagine how new they are.

Really new.

And then those beauteous folk from Do Not Adjust Your Stage belt out an evening's worth of television, but they do it with live humans and a tame guitarist. They'll cover all the major TV genres: reality, documentary, soap... all the greats, but they'll create it all in front of your two eyes (one if you're a cyclops).

Tuesday 7th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NHS/NUS cardholders.
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.

Wednesday 8th February

The soul-nurturing comedysplosion that is Happy Place is back for 2012.

Stand-up Luisa Omielan (★★★★★ - Three Weeks) will tickle your funny face with jokes.

Sketch duo Allnut & Simpson (‘Intelligently written… talented performers… one to watch’ - Chortle) will be bringing their unique brand of sketchertainment to help you feel better about yourself and the world.

Hosting duties will be handled by the lovely life coach Phil Kozak (Ryan Millar), author of the books 'That's not Unpossible', and 'Cut the Bullcrap!'. He'll be there helping folks work through any issues they may have. Such as deep-seated resentment, fear of success or general malaise.

Then, as always, the bottled lightning that is improv duo Marbles will be holding down the second half. Weaving jokes, characters and off-the-cuff observations into a one-of-kind improvised showtacular.

Wednesday 7th February
Time: Doors 7:45pm, Show 8pm - 10pm with interval.
Cost: £5 on the door, FREE to NUS/NHS card holders
Where: The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London, SE1 3SS.


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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

How to Become an Awesome Improviser

by Michael Brunström

Are you an awesome improviser? Of course you are – all improvisers are awesome people. But are you an awesome improviser? Don’t lie. You’re not, are you? Well, it’s OK. There’s no need to be ashamed. I’m not an awesome improviser either. Like you, I have – on the odd rare occasion – been awesome on stage. But that might have been a fluke. Who are we kidding? You and I both know who the truly awesome improvisers are, and that compared to them we’re just a pair of schmucks.

(To be brutally frank, I sometimes have misgivings about certain improvisers who are generally acknowledged to be awesome. Likewise, I can think of one or two improvisers whom I personally consider to be awesome, but wouldn’t feature in many people’s Top Ten. I’m not going to name names. This article isn’t about who is and isn’t awesome. Buy me a couple of drinks and I’ll tell you privately.)

Awesome improvisers achieve miraculous feats of stage athleticism. Their antics transcend the usual rules of improv that our teachers attempt to drum into us – all that boring who-what-where, yes-anding and platform building. They’re awesome in an inscrutably brilliant way. They seem to read each other’s minds, float inches off the ground and travel through time. They’re lithe, clever and goddamn sexually attractive.

How did they get to be so awesome? How? What is it that they do that makes run-of-the-mill improvisers like us think “Well, I might as well give up. They’ve cracked it. There is no way on God’s sweet earth that I will ever be as awesome as them.”?

The answer you don’t want to hear is . . . they’ve worked incredibly hard. They’ve performed in acres of duff shows, handed over pots of money to dubious self-styled improv gurus, rehearsed week-in-week-out in cold, damp meat warehouses, emerged from greasy pits of self-doubt, built and maintained a productive ensemble, sacrificed their egos on the altar of improv and gained oodles of toughly won experience over years and years and years and years.

There is another way, however. And I’m about to tell you what it is – a way of becoming an awesome improviser without going to all that time and trouble. And it’s so simple, I can sum it up in a pithy two-word slogan: “Just pretend.” That’s right – just pretend to be an awesome improviser. After all, every improviser is in the pretence business. If you’re on stage pretending to be a cow, you might as well pretend to be a witty cow. Half the battle of improv is in jumping up on stage in the style of someone who already knows a brilliant thing they’re going to say. Bullshit it.

I much prefer it when improvisers embrace what they do, even if they’re in a haphazard show full of directionless headbound scenes in the location of nowhere. I’ll give you an example. The other day I saw an improv show. It was neither tediously good nor gloriously bad. But from about a third of the way through the actors were clearly looking unhappy and tentative about it, and at the end they gave the audience nothing but apologetic nods before scuttling off the stage like cockroaches disturbed by a sanitary inspector’s torch. What a shame, I thought. If only they’d saved the diffidence, humility, regrets and recriminations for their post-show postmortem, and just pretended it was going brilliantly, I might’ve bought it.

But – and here comes the big but (I cannot lie) – how far will pretending alone take us? How many shows that are full of joyful rubbish will an audience put up with before they think “These guys have a charming, breezy self-confidence, but where can I see the awesome improvisers perform?” In other words, how long can improvisers survive on a diet of sheer hype?

This perhaps isn’t an entirely fatuous question. Improv in the UK is undergoing a pubescent growth spurt at the moment, and an increasing number of young groups are hungry for recognition. Many of these have an enthusiasm that, pound-for-pound, outweighs their audience numbers by a factor of ten. They’ll do anything to achieve that tipping-point of popularity that will see the work they’ve put in begin to pay off, and they're in a hurry. In my years, I’ve seen more than one group fade and expire, simply because they were unable to sustain the bubble of their own pretend awesomeness. All their promotional material boldly declared them to be the next big thing in the world of stuff, and they bounced about on stage in a chaotic expulsion of raw energy. The more their audiences dwindled, the more extravagant their claims to awesomeness became. At this delicate age in improv’s adolescence, there is a danger that we will start believing our own hype and forget to live up to it.

There’s clearly a finely balanced bridge to be built between the patience, humility and self-awareness of rehearsal and the cock-out, in-yer-face ebullience of performance. To be as awesome as the awesome improvisers requires an intelligent mix of discipline and bravura, patience and balls, talent and pretend talent. But it’s worth remembering, the next time you’re watching them do their effortlessly awesome thing on stage, that these guys aren’t getting hung up on any of this. They’re not trying to be awesome. Trying to be awesome is worse than pretending to be awesome – and it’s one of the most common mistakes improvisers make. If you're worried about how awesome you are, you've already fluffed it. Awesome improvisers just get on with it, performing in and for the moment, supporting their fellow improvisers and having fun.


TV companies have been struggling to come up with a decent way to show improv on screen for some time. The RH Experience have done pretty damn well on their own, actually: