The summer of comedy may be wrapping up but there are still some fantastic shows going on this week, including our choice of the week, improv troupe Sweet Nelson. I sat down with Lizz Kemery to talk about the show.
Location: The Bill Murray
Time: 18:45 – 19:45
Price: £5 to prebook or free at the door
Hello Lizz! Tell us about Sweet Nelson! Who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
We are a motley crew (Some actors, some oxford whiz kids and an American) joining fortes to do improvised comedy:
Alexander Jeremy: Founder of Sweet Nelson, comedian and actor.
Elizabeth Kemery: American comedian
Luke Manning: sketch comic (In Cahoots) and an actor
Paul Raymond: sketch comic (In Cahoots) and an actor
Lucy Prudence: Oxford Imps
How did you come up with the name Sweet Nelson?
AJ and Freddie, another member who is currently away traveling, heard Graham Dickson (The Free Association) say it in a show in a scene and thought it was really funny.
Tell us all about the show that you are bringing to the Bill Murray?
The style of improv comedy that we are attempting is unique to the Greater London Area as we would like to create improv that is comprised of more organic scenes. (Why? Because organic is healthier, trendier and we can charge more for it) Sorry. Organic scenes have no apparent structure. They are inspired by the word and then it’s just go time.
I love organic improv comedy because it’s open-ended nature allows us to create a clear picture of the new world, build strong relationships and let the funny happen naturally which, to me, makes the laughs better because they were earned. You end up with a much more relatable scene for the audience to laugh at.
What are your favourite things about performing improv to an audience at the and why?
My favorite thing about performing improv is the feeling of creating something entirely unique to that moment, together, with the audience. We have no idea what we are about to perform, we take the suggestion and little by little we create something the audience can feel like they were not only there to watch be created and enjoy but also something they were a part of and it’s bespoke! Improv comedy is like having an inside joke with an audience of strangers.
What have been the highlights of the shows you have performed previously?
The highlights have been when I’ve been on the back line watching two of my troupe members on stage together, comfortable in the room’s silence (a side effect of organic scenes as it can take some patience to ground the scene first) and exchanging an unspoken confidence in one another. That trust is why I love improv and a good example of how it translates in to so many life lessons.
What other improv groups do you find inspiring and why?
I used to spend every other Wednesday at Westside Comedy Theatre in Santa Monica, California watching the troupe, Bear Supply. They inspire me for a couple of different reasons.
Firstly, and maybe most importantly, because they have so much fun on stage. A good part of improv, you’ll find when you start training, is that people take it pretty seriously which means you can lose site of the fact that you’re a bunch of adults playing expert make believe. Secondly, they commit to each other more than any other troupe I’ve seen. This is improv magic. When you commit to the new truths in improv scenes so many other things fall in to place i.e. point of views, scene painting, reactions…etc. This doesn’t mean, “yes anding” everything until you’re both cranky unicorns doing a seance to communicate with your lord, a moldy peach, it means having each other’s back.
Another person I find really inspiring is David Barton Harris. He’s not a whole troupe but he probably could be! He’s both hilarious and impressive. It’s definitely obvious that he makes hilarious choices and characters but what might not be as obvious is that he is also and incredible team player. It’s not always about being the funniest person on stage, you have to have a great deal of finesse to figure out your teammates’ game and provide them with corresponding information they can react to to heighten the hilarity of the game.
What is your advice for new improvisers who want to perform their own shows with their own troupes?
For people who want to, just do it, life’s too short. Whenever I’m nervous, I think about this quote (I forget who said it) “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t done.” or something like that.
For people already doing it wanting some advice? Work together. Slow down, really listen to everything your partners are saying in a scene. You don’t have to provide loads of information to have a lot to go off of. A small noise or a tiny smirk can drive the entire scene.
What differentiates you from other Improv shows?
From what I’ve seen so far in London, Sweet Nelson stands out because of the format we use. Most of the troupe’s I’ve seen in London do premise-based scenes that have a very specific format. This is also a fun format to watch but, again, I think organic scenes are really fun to watch because we can invest more in each scene which allows the audience to be more invested.
When everyone is more invested the laughs go from “that was funny” to laughs of relief, release, shock, cringe, excitement, pity…etc.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Facebook @ Sweet Nelson
Instagram @ sweetnelsonimpro
Twitter @ sweetNimpro
And Finally – in three words, why should people come and see you at The Bill Murray?
Make Love Not