INTERVIEW: Improv show of the Year – HumanMachine

This year has been a huge year for the improv community with both brand new teams and shows sprouting up here and there. There is one show that has completely renovated the concept and produced a show that welcomes not just new technologies to the stage but also is performed in two continents at the same time! This years Show of the Year is none other then Piotr and Kory of HumanMachine I sat down and spoke to them about what is in store for the new year!

Hello Piotr and Kory! You are our improv show of the year congratulations!


Piotr: One word: ROBOTS!

2017 has been a big year The human Machine how has it been for guys?

Kory: It has been a rollercoaster. We have done 30 shows to an almost 3000 total audience members. We have two scientific publications. We were recently featured in an Irish documentary on RTE One, in an article in the Sunday Times, and interviewed for an upcoming Bloomberg TV Hello World Segment.

Piotr: The robot burned down on the stage on the very day a reviewer came. Oh, and I made a mistake with time zones when booking the remote venue in Portland, and Kory had to run off the stage because of a wedding rehearsal.

What’s been some of the highlights of the show for 2017?

Kory: Opening night at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We didn’t know if it would work. Any time you are playing with tech, you are playing with fire.

Piotr: Introducing my robot to Kory, on that Edinburgh Fringe opening night. They are friends now! Can’t wait to meet Kory’s robot(s) at the Edmonton Fringe.

Your show is usually performed in two different continents but this year you got to perform together on the same stage how did that feel?

Kory: Amazing. Improv is all about the human connection. Finally getting to perform together onstage was electric. It also let us see each others pre-/post-show habits. WHO KNEW PIOTR DID SO MANY VOCAL WARM UPS?

Piotr: We actually started a remote-centric show called Long Distance Relationship (our partners are cool with that). I was therefore uncomfortably excited about meeting Kory on the stage, and he did live up to my wildest dreams.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of bringing new technologies into a show?

Kory: Do it. Start now. Try it every 6 months. The tech will get better, but you have to have a starting point.

Piotr: Contact the venue several weeks ahead and chat with the technician, or with the person who administers the space, and explain to them your tech setup, including all the tech elements (projectors, computers, robots, mixing tables, music, lights…). Visit the space and note down what is available or not. Where are the power sockets? Where is the technician booth? Where are the sound inputs? Ask a friend for help for the show or hire a tech. Schedule a tech run. Get very early into the space, set everything up and test it. Leave plenty of time to run to the shop to get missing tape or an adapter. Bring extra cables, batteries, water. Be ready for anything and have contingency plans. Once all the tech is set, breathe and get warmed-up for the show. I think we should write a book about this, or at least a blog post.

Kory: This is a really good answer, Piotr. One thing I will add is, think about your minimal possible setup? Can you do the show with only two laptops instead of three? Less is more when it comes to new tech on stage.

What are the plans for The show in 2018?

Kory: Edmonton Fringe 2018, more bigger robots, better technology on the backend.

Piotr: As well, we are putting on a show in London, called Improbotics Ltd., that will feature only humans on the stage, some of them controlled by a machine, and that will make the audience doubt who is a human, who is a robot.

What does the year of 2018 hold for the improv community what do you think will be big changes that will alter improv for 2019?

Kory: Improv has grown in 2017, the community is becoming stronger as we equalize and invite diversity into the mix. More underrepresented voices are being represented on stage.

Piotr: I think that there will be more shows that challenge our preconceptions: a improvised gender-swapped film noir directed by my friend Stephen Davidson, or shows that incorporate different art forms such as dance, song, video…

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 11.34.24


* What’s your New Years resolution for 2018?

Kory: Get better at hosting… parties.

Piotr: Never grow up.

* What act are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Kory: Colin Mochrie is cooking up something new; it is always fun to follow your friends and favorites.

Piotr: I am looking forward to seeing Kory’s and Julian Faid’s improvised TEDxRFT talk.

* Who would you like to collaborate on a show with this year and why?

Kory: Colin Mochrie, see above.

Piotr: The Nursery, they are awesome!

* In three words what do you wish 2018 does for you?

Kory: Joy, security, progress.

Piotr: As Kory said.

* Where do you see your show in a years time?

Kory: One year better. More robots than humans on stage 😉

Piotr: It will be an awesome surprise! 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s