I tell you what, I'm getting pretty envious of all those folk heading off to Chicago this Summer. Luckily, one of them is me. Being envious of yourself is easily remedied.
Liz Peters is not me, though I am envious of her:
My name is Liz Peters and I am in The Maydays. I trained as an actor at Mountview and have enjoyed working in lots of performance jobs in the UK and abroad on stage and screen. A few years ago I decided to focus more on comedy as it has always been my favourite. I knuckled down and wrote a sitcom, which was an epic feat at the time, so I took some improv classes to help get over writer’s block. What a discovery! It literally changed my life, my approach to working and the way I spend my time. Now, as well as The Maydays, I write and perform in shows like Newsrevue and create sketches and songs about things I find funny – which are invariably rude or quite dark.
What's the best improv call-out you've ever heard?
I was teaching a class and asked for an emotion as stimulus for a scene. Someone joyfully called out ‘swimming!’ and we were in bits. That led to their troupe name being ‘Swimming Is An Emotion’ so it proves the old improv mantra that there are no mistakes, only gifts. (Turns out he thought I’d asked for ‘a motion’ if you’re trying to join up the mental dots)
Which improv course are you doing, and what made you choose that one?
I’m doing the five week course at iO. I suppose the main reason is that if I’m going to go that far and spend all that dosh I may as well do it in a big way. I get to live in Chicago for longer. Maybe there should be a better reason than that but there you go.
When/how did you start planning your trip?
We worked with Jason Chin from iO in February and he invited us to perform in Whirled News Tonight which is a massive honour. I’ve always heard how amazing Chicago was for improv and I started to realise that what I had considered to a financially impossible pipe dream was actually a viable career investment.
What are you most excited about?
I am very excited to have the chance to immerse myself fully in improv for a good few weeks. I’m looking forward to working with lots of different tutors and improvisers and absorbing little bits from all of them. And, of course, watching the shows. The improv scene in England is so small, I’m looking forward to seeing all the different things that the troupes are doing out there and having my mind blown.
I definitely want to get to see ‘TJ and Dave’ but on the whole I’m very open-minded and I’m up for everything. I’m imagining it’ll be like being in an improv sweetshop so I don’t want to make too many plans – just see what looks tasty!
What are you going to do in chicago when you're not improvising?
Seeing as many shows as I can primarily. I’ve heard that the Mexican food is pretty special in Chicago and I’ll probably try and get to a cubs game. I might try and find an open mic night or something and do some non-improv stuff. I also fantasise about taking a road trip and finding a hidden cabin by a lake one weekend, cos America is tiny and everything is really close together isn’t it?!
How do you think the trip will change you?
Hopefully I’ll come back as a better improviser! Even planning the trip has shifted my attitude up a gear towards making this my full time job. So I want to arm myself with the tools to do that.
Do you think you'll go back another time?
Ask me afterwards. It might be a dump and everyone could be lying!
If you could name a new impro group anything you like, what would it be?
It would have to be something that organically came from the group. A random line in a scene or something personal and specific to them. Let’s be honest, if it was me it would probably be rude.
Liz plays in The Maydays and has her own website.
Follow all the improvisers at #ChicaGoUK