Whilst many of the improv troupes from London are up at the Edinburgh Fringe performing, there are still a handful of them that are performing in London at the Improv Pub, The Miller. This week our Improv show of the week is ClusterFox – we sat down with the group to talk about their upcoming show.
When: 9th August, 8pm
Where: The Miller Pub, London Bridge
Hello guys! Tell us about Clusterfox! Who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
CF: We’re a 4-person London based long form improv group, performing all over town regularly. In every show, we create a cluster of realities, characters and situations, starting with a single word suggested by the audience. If you want to get technical, we perform a modified 4-Track format, which we think sounds extremely improv-sexy.
How did you come up with the name Clusterfox?
CF: The name credit goes to our member Jimmy, which just came out of his mind! Improv!! Some have said that there’s a salacious double meaning, but we don’t like to encourage such gossip. We had a group discussion to suggest possible names, and voted for the winner. The other contender was “Libertalia”, which is the name for the pirate heaven/utopia, which we used instead as a suggestion for Katy Schutte & Tony Harris’s “Destination Podcast”, and they used it!
Tell us all about the show that you are bringing to the Miller?
CF: It’s going to a brilliant and varied evening with lots of our favourite acts. We’ve got montages, narrative, horror, a 1-man show, puppets and lots more. We think it’s going to be a great lineup, so come down and join us!
What are your favourite things about performing improv to an audience at the and why?
Lilla: I love that my head is only in the moment. Also, the feeling of building something together with my scene partner just blows my mind. And when the audience laughs I know they are part of this too.
Mark : I love the immediacy of whether something works or not, An audience will tell you, and there’s nothing better than a great reaction. I like being totally committed to a character, and the audience going with that character all the way in a scene. It can be scary, but that’s why I love it.
Tom: I love it when the audience likes something silly. Often in improv you find yourself trying to be very clever with your moves, offers and responses to craft a technically perfect performance. But sometimes a stupid noise or a fart joke can be the best laugh of the night – I love it when the group catharsis takes over and the performers and audience are totally engaged with each other and enjoying the wild ride of our show
Jimmy: My favourite thing has to be the connection you build with the audience as you go through the performance. It’s amazing when it feels like a group of friends just having a laugh, less pressure.
What have been the highlights of the shows you have performed previously?
M : We did a show with only 2 of us recently, which was a great challenge, and was great. But my highlight so far has been the Shoreditch Improv Festival. We did our best set so far, the team was fully cohesive, and it worked great, That was a really great night.
L: Group-games were the highlights for me as the most unexpected can and will happen during this type of scene. I feel our group-games really break the Matrix of improv comedy.
T : A highlight for me was the last moment of one of our first shows – I was playing a very bitter rabbit who couldn’t move his arms above his head like John McCain because he’d been in pet shop ‘captivity’ for years. We came to the end of our allotted time, and the lighting technician had the genius idea to go for a slow fade instead of a blackout to end our show while I was staring into space, contemplating the owner I would never have. It felt darkly funny, and very poignant. I love when you can have a bit of pathos in a show (if the audience thinks you have earned it!)
J : I once did a very good Nigerian accent during a show, I feel very proud of that moment.
What other improv groups do you find inspiring and why?
M : I really like Countdown to Doom, because horror is rare in improv, and they do is so well. My favourite group in London is probably Beings, with Andrew Gentilli and Susan Harrison. It’s just a perfect 2-prov of energetic and charming improv. I always come away inspired from their shows.
T: The Noise Next Door are my improv heroes. They started the improv ‘club’ at my University, which is how I got exposed to the medium in the first place. Their shows are always so slick, energetic and fun – required watching for anyone involved in improv as far as I’m concerned.
L: I became very nerdy about improv so I enjoy the Free Association’s Harold and Jacuzzi nights a lot, as I actively engage with the scenes thinking about what premise I would pull from the opening and what choices I would make in the scenes.
J: I grew up with “Whose Line is it Anyway?” so basically, all the cast members on that are my idols. I just love the chemistry between them, and they’re consistently good.
What do you find the most challenging thing about improv?
M : For me, the most challenging part of improv is being consistent with game. I sometimes overcomplicate things in my mind, and need to get back to simplicity. We’ve also started doing more group games, which are tricky.
T – The most challenging thing for me is keeping a straight face on stage. I get the giggles so easily, when my scene partner comes out with a crackling line I’m liable to laugh even more than the audience.
L: Same thing that I find the most beautiful and inspiring: being able to let something go. Many times in the scene something doesn’t go in a way you expected. These moments should be cherished, yet sometimes your ego can get in the way, making you struggle to give up your initial idea.
J – Personally, I sometimes mishear my scene partner, and then change the context of the scene, which can sometimes be chaotic. So the challenging thing is recovering from those moments.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
CF : We’re on Twitter (@weareclusterfox), Facebook (search “Clusterfox”) and our website is www.clusterfox.com. We post all sorts of fun stuff up there like gig & rehearsal photos and other fun stuff, so come and follow us! We might be using Instagram soon too!
And Finally – in three words, why should people come and see you at the Miller?
T: Free, Improv, Comedy (Can’t say fairer than that, can you?)
M: Crazy, Sexy, Cool.
J: You will laugh.
L: Endorphin is healthy.
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