Improv Diaries

The Improv Diaries – Punders Head To The West End, John Culshaw and Raw Chicken…. [Case Study: Jimmy Carr]

This week was a fun one in the world of Punders – we made our debut on the West End! Well, we played a set as part of show hosteed by Sprout Ideas at the Actors Theatre just off Covent Garden. We were given a twenty minute set and were the first on so it was our job to warm up the audience. The good thing about this show was that a lot of the audience were new to improv meaning that we could show them what we were made of. The bad thing about this show was there was a lot of the audience that was new to improv – this meant that suggestions were a bit more on the cruder side and also we were given suggestions that were quite random.

When you are performing to an audience that is new to improv it can mean they are shy at shouting out suggestions. By having limited suggestions means you just have to deal with what is shouted out.  So for example for the suggestion of a relationship, someone shouted out Single – myself and Mike made it work and played with the suggestion trying to bring it to a new place or angle. Another thing we kept getting was crude suggestions and each time we did we tried to play with them and give them a new twist every time.

For our first show away from the predominant improv scene it went well and we got a lot of positive feedback which is always great to hear. It was nice to try it in a new space we were unfamiliar with, to test the waters and see just how well everything worked out. The weirdest thing that definietly made it feel that we were in a new land was that we kept bumping into John Culshaw in the break as he was there for another show that was on.

This week at rehearsal was all about refocusing on what we need to train / improve on going forward to make sure that we are in tip top shape for our show in May. We have decided that we are going to use part of the lesson to focus on key skills and the basics of short form to make sure that we are strong at everything and then the second part trying out new games. There are some games that are becoming really fun to do and trying them in rehearsals is actually really good fun.

This week was a fun rehearsal because apart from having fun, it felt like we actually achieved something as well. It felt like we were pushing forward and developing in core skills that are going to help us in the long run.

Case Study – Jimmy Carr

If there is one thing that I have learnt from Jimmy Carr then that is whatever the audience throw at you – you fight back with something bold and so to the line that they never expected it coming. We got a lot of suggestions at this show that were sexual or had an innuendo so in true Jimmy Carr style I did exactly that.

We play a game called Mirrors where one person is the puppet of the leader and you can only move when they do and have to justify every move that you are given. I was the puppet and we were given the profession of Stripper. Caroline, who was playing the straight man in the scene lead it by saying that we are getting ready to go out and head to the poles – this was already a really good way to start the scene because it meant we had a lot to play with instead of just focusing on the actual obvious.

The audience clearly wanted the innuendos and the dark comedy to fall into a sexual reference so everytime that I was given something to justify I was constantly thinking to myself ‘ how can I heighten this? How can i get it to a point where even the audience are going to regret what they asked for? When I say that I don’t mean they hate us but they get to the right sort of humour disgusted that Jimmy Carr does. I ended up getting there with raw chicken as underwear and a line about being finger lickin’ good for the customers – i know, i try haha!

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