This month we are looking at Improv acts you must see before the year is out. This week we sat down with Talking Dog to talk all things Improv
Tell us about why you are called Talking Dog and how did you form?
In our inaugural performance, one of the characters was none other than a dog… who talked?!.
Despite many months of brainstorming other names, Talking Dog was the one that stuck and
our eponymous character is now our mascot too*.
Prior to performing as a group, we all took classes with C3?. We didn’t seem to hate each other
and so decided to form a group to take on bigger challenges, and get some more stage time.
*Until HMV notices.
How long have you been together?
We joined forces in April 2016 and had our first public gig on the auspicious day of the
Eurovision Finals on 14th May.
“We’ll be looking to grow on the success of 2016: performing whenever and wherever we can.”
What style of improv do you do and tell us about your show?
We follow the longform style of improv as championed by the likes of UCB. At the moment, we
try to perform a full Harold. However, when faced with a 15 minute slot as opposed to a good
half-hour, we’ve been known to compromise this hallowed form.
What are some of the best things about performing improv live and why?
Building something together as a team and people laughing because you’re funny.
Introduce us to all of the members of your troupe
Mariana is a reformed scientist who fell in love with doing comedy. She was drawn into it through C3? and has trained with them and UCBtheatre teachers since. She writes and performs every chance she gets as she doesn’t live without comedy. She’s a photographer, a capoeirista and swing dancer and you can see the influence that has in her comedy on her next show.
Karn was an innocent country boy from Somerset before being lured to the bright lights of London. Corrupted by city ways and loose living, Karn was naturally drawn to improv as a means of restoring some small pleasure back into his humdrum life; he has been following this improv path ever since.
Stefen is a recovering American seeking sanctuary in this strange town. Also known as ‘the Asian one’, Stefen started doing improv as a 2016 New Year’s resolution bet with himself, which he both won and lost. His comedic influences for Talking Dog are Scooby-Doo, Dogbert and Brian Griffin.
At 22, Ciaran is the baby – or puppy, so to speak – of Talking Dog. Whilst he hails from the Wirral (near Liverpool), he has no discernible Scouse accent, a point he is far too proud of. Ciaran started improv in university as a light relief whilst studying law and, although his legal career faltered almost immediately, he has not stopped improvising since. Ciaran’s favourite song by Katy Perry is ‘Hot N Cold’.
Robert came from Hungary about two years ago fulfilling an old dream to live in London. He was living this dream, go to work, then home, then work, then home again as long as he could, when he did found a third place to be, improv, a bit more than a year ago. Since then, that has become an essential part of his life. He also likes music which preferably contains at least one guitar, and a big fan of scotch. His comedy got shaped by a very serious TV show addiction.
Louise is an aspiring funny woman. So far she has the woman bit down. Her passions include stand up, Harry Potter, improv, Kettle Crisps, Harry Potter, travel and vagina-based jokes. She started doing improv as a way to improve her confidence performing and exercise her comedic muscles, but it soon became mostly about forcing her teammates into Harry Potter-themed scenes none of them understand. Really it’s all about Harry Potter for Louise.
FX grew up to an ideal life on the French riviera, bathed in sun and happiness until he was 18. Then he decided to fuck it all up moving to Paris then London. Now poorer and miserable, with a natural glow that faded for a greyish skin tone he found solace joining this bunch of people making up crazy shit. He is vulgar when he speaks in English, but feels it’s OK because it’s coated in a thick french accent that sticks more than tar on a white shirt.
Julien is the enigmatic figure of the group, sporting the world’s sexiest beard, and rivalling only FX for his display of Gallic campness. It is the greatest irony of our time that while Julien works for one of the world’s largest social media company, his communication skills are that of a long-deceased parrot. Luckily, his teammates are happy to passive-aggressively write his profile for him to show how much they care.
What do you have in store for 2017?
We’ll be looking to grow on the success of 2016: performing whenever and wherever we can. We already perform regularly at the at The Horse and Stables on a Sunday night with C3?, and have shows booked with Hoopla, The Parentheticals, Duck Duck Goose and Lady G. We’re also looking at festivals and bigger shows, so bear us in mind!
Why do you think the improv scene has got bigger in recent years?
Because it’s so attractive as an art form. And.. like most things, Improv has benefitted from the internet, and what was previously a bit of an obscure pastime in the UK is now really accessible to almost everyone who can read up on it, find out about classes and watch old performances from some of the all-time greats.
Who are your comedy influences and why?
As one of the UK’s most diverse improvisational groups – with no less than two French people – we have a wealth of influences. On a random poll of the group the following were mentioned: Monty Python, Amy Poehler, Armando Iannucci, Stewart Lee, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Will Smith (Karn – was this you?), Woody Allen, Tina Fey, Rowan Atkinson (NOT Bean), Steven Moffat, Hugh Laurie, PG Wodehouse and the SNL.
For anyone who wants to get into learning improv this year what do you suggest they do?
Without risking trademark infringement, we’d definitely say ‘just do it’. There are a wealth of beginner classes all around London. Whilst we all started with C3? and their drop-in classes, you’ll find anyone in the world of improv incredibly welcoming and accommodating. Don’t be scared and come and join the fun.
Any ways people can follow you online.
You can follow us online on the 3 major social networks:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/talkingdogimprov/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/talkingdogimprov/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/talking__dog