Our show of the week is an Improv Troupe like no other – they are all about rock n roll and everything in between. They have a monthly residency in the Rosemary Branch Theatre. I caught up with the guys to find out more about them and their show this Sunday.
Tell us about Jack Left Town ! Who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
David: We’re four chaps who met through Monkey Toast classes and accidentally invented a format while drinking in a rock pub and pouring money into this awesome jukebox that played old 45s.
Chazz: What he said. I miss that jukebox. We played “Heartbreak Road” by Bill Withers about 9 times in a row. David, Angus and me all did the same Level 1 class, Scott started in Level 2. After that first 2 class, I knew these were the dudes I wanted to play with.
Scott: Chazz, you old charmer you.
Angus: I am Sidrax, the destroyer. After the time of the Last Great Reckoning, I was banished into the negative zone for a thousand cycles. After eons alone in the shadow dimensions, I made my escape by solving the riddle of the Isis Gate but found myself stranded anew in this realm.
What are the dates / time / location / prices of your shows?
David: We’ve got a monthly residency at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Haggerston. Next shows are the 24th September, 29th October, 26th November and a Christmas special on the 17th of December! All start at 7pm and cost a crisp tenner.
Chazz: See above.
Scott: See above ‘See above’.
Angus: Walking amongst your kith had been troublesome. My raiments of conquest proved too conspicuous and so my skill in darkness and silence has become my greatest asset. While I have no need of mortal sustenance, my physical form was weakened in the crossing and so I sleep while the sun rides high and forage for what little I can by moonlight. Often strangers will proffer me tokens of exchange. Their kindness is welcome though it be foolish and the root of their undoing.
How did you come up with the name Jack Left Town ?
David: I used to be in a band called Jack Left Town when I was 14. We never played a show. Back then we got the name from a line in Evil Dead 3: “Listen pal, you ain’t leading but two things right now: Jack and Shit. And Jack left town.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj563ViG7Qg
Chazz: As a sidenote, if one more person hears our name and says “Where’s Jack? Did he leave town?” I think I’ll commit murder.
Angus: To the people of the Titan Union, I am ‘The Great Reclaimer’. To the underfish of The N’draa Configuration, I am called Sho’talaan or ‘He who brings the final gift’. Truly, I have had so many names – as empires have risen and blown to dust about me. The fragile sand castles of your kind’s ambition would be beautiful were it not so diseased by weakness.
Tell us all about the show that you are bringing to the Rosemary Branch Theatre?
David: Our show is all about a washed up rock band reliving their glory days. We do an intro in which the band members are being interviewed for a rock documentary and we use that as inspiration for scenes about their lives and rock and roll careers.
Chazz: And everything in between. We showcased the life of the band and the world around them. Sometimes that involves hiring Dr. Seuss as an architect. Sometimes that involves a polite interrogation from the Canadian police
Angus: Though I do not fear, I know that a time draws closer when I will once again face Trinia, my sister-form. It was she who cast me into the Other Spaces and it is she who roams the skies of countless worlds safeguarding against my return. I must be cautious. This plane is little regarded by the the Forever-Kind but not invisible. Trinia draws closer each moment.
What are your favourite things about performing improv to an audience at the Rosemary Theatre and why?
David: The Rosemary Branch is amazing. It’s the perfect size for improv and has a massive stage. That means we can mess around with the lighting and split scenes in a way that a lot of stages don’t allow.
Chazz: The RB is one of the most gorgeous fringe venues in London. That alone would be great but on top of that it’s run by amazing people who get what we’re doing and have supported the night tremendously. In terms of what’s best about audience improv, I’d say more than any other form of comedy, you’re sharing a laugh. Everyone is surprised and amused all at once. It builds a nice sense of equality and community.
Scott: The fact we have an audience to perform in front of in the first place. I’m still amazed that people come to our little gig. I really am. It was just a thing us four took a punt on and it worked out. And not only that, we get to perform at this great place. Of course we’ve worked hard on our night, but we’re all very aware of how lucky we are too.
Angus: I confess to finding your world not devoid of merit. There is much beauty here, though to my eyes it is like mist. It would take no effort at all for it all to be undone. You should be thankful that I am weary of my great office of late. Many lands have perished at my moment’s caprice.
What have been the highlights of the shows you have performed previously?
David: For me it’s got to be the opening night. The first act (the brilliant Just Us League) ran on stage and everyone started laughing and it was so excited that we’d managed to get a room full of people together (some of whom were improv muggles) to see this really funny show!
Chazz: Our show in April of this year sticks out for me. It was a huge crowd (we had to put out extra chairs!) and there was something in the air. The whole room seemed electrically charged and all the acts fed off that. The vibe was just amazing. Set weren’t half bad either.
Scott: I’d second Chazz with the April show – everything seemed to go perfectly and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’d also like to add a special mention to the July show. All of us were busy with different things we were doing outside of Jack Left Town at the time, so because of that I think we didn’t have time to be nervous and afterwards we all walked off stage thinking, “…that actually wasn’t half bad”.
Angus: Though I was never a child in the way you would understand the concept, there was a time when my life-song rang in harmony with The High Music. Though I feel no sadness at my growing to become The Vast and Terrible Cleanser of the Broken that I became, I often remember when Trinia and I were as one voice and feel something one might call longing.
What other improv groups do you find inspiring and why?
David: Well the Just Us League spring to mind again. They’ve got this incredible energy that I wish could be bottled. Is it a bit naff if I say Austentacious? Every time I see them I leave the show so humbled and in awe of how much fun they’re having and how beautiful the calibre of their improvisation is.
Chazz: Cariad & Paul. Seeing Cariad & Paul improvise is like watching Michelangelo paint.
Scott: Myself and Angus saw The Glenda J Collective at The London Jam earlier this year and I remember both of us needed a good two hours afterwards to have a sit down and reflect on what we just saw. They were incredible.
Angus: I grow weary of your questions. Bring me work. Bring me my great helm. Bring me worlds to neutralise and suns to extinguish. The good-madness stirs in life-stream once more.
What is your advice for new improvisers who want to perform their own shows with their own troupes?
David: I remember an old improv teacher gave me a great piece of advice: Don’t think of doing your first show as the final goal. It’s not. Think of that first show as just the first of many. Ideally try to book in your second show before you’ve done your first!
Chazz: Practice for at least 2 months before booking your first show. You’ll be surprised what comes out in those early days. It’s how we stumbled across our playstyle.
Scott: What they’ve said. What David has said about booking more than one show is particularly salient I have to say.
Angus: Those that oppose you are wise, even if they are doomed.
What differentiates you from other Improv shows?
David: I think we’ve managed to find a weird middle ground between free-form teams who do open formats and teams who do a carefully themed long form narrative. That said – maybe we just do both badly!
Chazz: Again, David’s written the best answer. We have all the juicy story stuff of long form, but all the cartoon silliness of open formats. Sometimes we even have sad bits. It’s unpredictable even by improv standards.
Scott: For me it’s the involvement of Tom Clutterbuck: our tech, friend and fifth Beatle. What he does with sound, music and lights during the show is indispensable and, for my money, makes our set twice as good. It’s amazing how something like, let’s say, going from a green wash to a spotlight can improve a scene. With the tech set up, I like to think we’re giving the audience something a bit more theatrical; a bit of a show. (ps – I apologise for comparing us to The Beatles earlier. We are not The Beatles)
Angus: Enough! I must withdraw and prepare for the oncoming storm. I give you good and fair warning fleshling – abandon this place. Soon my sister will arrive and the space between us will become as tigers. The final conflict will ravage your world and leave a trail of untold destruction across the visible stars. Even if you were to survive, you would find a world so heartbreakingly diminished that I fear your gentle soul would be torn to nothing to look upon it. Take your loved ones and ready The Great Migration. It is time for your kind to know war as we, who do not know death, have come to know it. Be warned.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
And Finally – in three words, why should people come and see you at Rosemary Branch Theatre?
David: Sweet Air Guitar
Chazz: Rampant aggressive callbacks
Scott: We Improvise Adequately
Angus: All will perish