INTERVIEW: Funny at the Fringe – The Shambles

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Welcome  to this years dose of all things Edinburgh Fringe! Last year we delved into the world of all genres of comedy performing at Fringe however this year we are going to take it back to basics. This year we are going to take a look at some of the best stand up shows happening at the Edinburgh Fringe and what ones you should spend your good money on to get a loads of laughter in your time there.

We sat down with Improv Group  The Shambles  to discuss their up and coming show at the Fringe.

Location: theSpace, Surgeon’s Hall

Date: 4th-26th August (excluding Sundays)

Time: 22:15

Price: £7, £5 for Concessions

Buy Tickets:

Hello The Shambles! Tell us a little bit about your group.

Hello! We are The Shambles, York’s premier improv troupe. We have a cast of around 20, but there are only ever 8 of us on stage in any one show. We all mainly started in comedy, either doing stand up or writing/performing sketches but it didn’t take long for the improv bug to bite us!

Tell us about your Edinburgh Fringe show.

We aim for classic short-form improvised comedy, with all the energy and hilarity that entails, so perform a variety of scenes, songs and games based on audience suggestions. We usually end the show on a slightly longer scene to create a story the audience can take away with them.

How did you guys form and how did you come up with the name The Shambles?

We were formed in 2007 by a group of student comedians at the University of York, originally taking the name “The Scabs”. Over time, new cast members joined and others left so much like The Sugarbabes, none of our current cast are founding members! Unlike the Sugarbabes, past members (Shamblumni as they are called) are very welcome to come back and perform with us whenever they wish. The name comes from a famous road in the city of York also called The Shambles. It’s apparently where they filmed Diagon Alley in Harry Potter!

You have done many Fringe Festivals before – what are some of your highlights and reasons you enjoy performing at the Fringe?

The Fringe is a fantastic place to perform; due to the volume of shows you have to perform, it always sharpens your improv skills, no matter how experienced you are. As well as this it gives us a chance to network with fellow improv troupes across the country, sharing ideas and resources, and allowing us all to grow as improvisors.

In terms of highlights:

Qumarth: We got to collaborate in an improv jam last year with The Improverts in a couple of shows. Their style complemented ours really well and it was exciting to learn new games and perform with new people, each carrying a wide array of characters with them!

Georgina: I especially enjoy meeting new people basically everyday at the Fringe and learning about what they are doing. Being able to perform with a group of people who are all committed to making the show as best as it can be is amazing!

Lewis: As someone who has now taught improv to the troupe for a year, I can appreciate what an invaluable experience improvising for an entire month is for any performer, old hand or new. I always enjoy the rehearsals and improv warm-ups we do in the Shambles house at the Fringe, and I so I’m very excited this year to see how the troupe develops!

Photo Credit: Harry Ellletson Photography & Design
Your group comes From York, what is the improv scene like in York? is it big? Where can people go for shows in the area if they want to visit?

The scene in York is pretty small, as far as we know in two other troupes: Right Here Right Now who perform in the Friargate Theatre, and Six Lips Theatre who perform in the Bay Horse pub. As well as this, there are various improv nights going on nearby in Leeds. We’ve performed a few shows in and around the city centre but our home is on the University of York campus, where we perform on a near weekly basis during the University term time.

What other comedians and improv acts do you find inspiring and why?

Qumarth: Too many to name! Off the top of my head I’d say Max & Ivan because of their characterisation skills and Watch This Improv Troupe because they can pull off a really good long form story.

Georgina: “Showstoppers” I find inspiring as their improvised songs is just incredible and improvised songs and singing are somethings that I really want to get better at, not to mention any show that has just so much energy and the audience really get involved in.

Lewis: For me the true inspiration has got to be watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? on TV when I was younger. Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie are incredible to watch, and I was very excited to actually see the latter at the Fringe last year in his show, Hyprov.

For anyone that lives in Yorkshire and wants to get into doing improv how would they go about it?

It all depends on where you live in Yorkshire to be honest. If you’re in York we run workshops every Thursday of the University term time on the University campus, you can check out our social media to see where exactly as locations vary.

Photo Credit: Harry Ellletson Photography & Design
Who are you guys looking forward to seeing at the fringe perform live and why?

Qumarth: Paul Currie is always a blast and his shows are like nothing else at the fringe so I’ll definitely be seeing him As well as that, I’ve been a big fan of Aunty Donna for years (I have a very soft spot for surreal humour) and have love every show they’ve put on. I can’t wait to see what their show has to offer this year.

Georgina: Well I’m looking forward to checking out what is on at the free Fringe as there is always some great stuff to see at any time of day. So I can’t wait to accidentally stumble on some great shows like last year. Also seeing “Kate if you wanna go Butcher” perform, because they are a Shamble Alumni and hilarious!

Lewis: There are some glorious sketch troupes at the Fringe that I have seen both years I’ve been up, and hope to see again. As Qumarth has mentioned, Aunty Donna and Max & Ivan are two stand out ones, but Daphne is amazing too, and there are loads of great uni troupes as well (including the University of York one, Present & Correct). In terms of improv, Improvabunga do the most amazing long form that I’ve seen anywhere, and it never ceases to amaze me.

Finally, in three words – why should people see you at the fringe?

Improv, no gimmicks

To find out more about The Shambles follow them on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter @Shamblesimprov. Also they have a website too. 

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