Improv Diaries – Just the Two of Us and “Pimping”….[Case Study – Neil Mullarkey ]

This week I was working another overnight at my job on the Sunday, so I decided to go to the Comedy Store to see the Players do their thing again. This week the line up was all the regulars with Suki Webster appearing – which was a lovely surprise as she wasn’t on the list i saw and was great to see someone who i have been coached by at The Comedy Store.

The show was great fun – there was a lot of parts that made me laugh a lot, the story story DIE game ended up being about a whisk which was ironic because everytime that we have done a game in improv about a whisk it has turned really dodgy and into an innuendo and sexual and funnily enough the exact same thing happened to them as well.

Another thing that I loved about this weeks show was the amount of ‘pimping’ that was done in the show to other improvisers. If you haven’t heard of this terminology before, it basically means one person in the scene deliberately makes the other improviser do something that they don’t want to do with high humour to the audience. The funniest scene I saw this week was Paul Merton translating everything that Lee Simpson said in Gibberish and really pimping him up to the point where he was forced to sing and dance to an Abba song and you could really see that it was something that he didn’t want to do. It was one of the funniest short scenes that I have seen in a show and is something that will definately stick with me throughout the years.

This week at improv rehearsal all the guys had either work committments or were ill so it was team female Punders to the rescue. We have a huge show in May so the main aim for rehearsals is to make sure we focus on areas of basics that we need to improve on. This week, Carolines main focus was all about Characters and physical styling on stage.

One of the most biggest traits that a lot of improvisers do on stage is forget to enter a character state and end up just talking on stage and not bringing the physicality to the stage – the great thing about watching the Comedy Store Players is that it pushes me to remember the most important thing. We decided that what ever game that we did we would nominate to thte other person what part of their body physically lead their body – this training I learnt from The Suggetsibles and it really does work as it automatically creates a character and by doing this we were able to naturally build real strong characters on the stage and in every game we played.

Another thing that we focussed on this week was characters – this can be a really hard thing to pull off and I completely understand why The Comedy Store Players as a rule do not do them. Well, unfortunately for us, one of our games is all about character so it is something that we have to train on. For this particular week I came up with a game to try and get elements of characters down – both of you do as scene as the same character and see how it develops over the scene. So for example, we did one about the Queen owning a bank and the other Queen wanting to take out money. We both played the Queen differently which was good as we started to realise there are many different ways to play the same character. This became evident when we did a scene about Sherlock Holmes and we had a lot of different possibilites.

We have started to play the gibberish expert as one of our games, so seeing someone like Lee Simpson do it really inspires me to go really big with suggestions as he does this and it really makes a difference. The one thing I love about Punders and I think it was something that Mike brought to the group, he will have an arguement in gibberish with the lecturer and this is something we all try and channel now and again as it is unexpected.

Sometimes, when there is only two of you at rehearsal it is very difficult to work out if something is working or whether it is funny because you don’t have the support mechanism of your other team members that it makes it hard to focus (i don’t know how Two-provs do it) but this week it worked well. We took time to develop and focus on areas we don’t usually have and we also planend ahead as to what to do next time we have the whole gang there. It was a good lesson as we ended up doing a lot in a short period of time.

Case Study – Neil Mullarkey

Photo from Neil Mullarkey Twitter

If there is one Comedy Store Player I haven’t given enough praise to then it is this guy, Neil Mullarkey. Everytime I have seen the Players, I feel that I learn something completely new and completely unexpected. From a character perspective he is a great example of a fantastic improviser – everytime he approaches a scene he produces a brand new character with a different accent and a new quirk, and everytime the characters are exciting to see develop.

One of my favourite things about Neil is he doesn’t jsut use physicality, accents and words to createa a character, he also uses his eyes. He can create so much expression from the simplist eye movement or the slightest eyebrow nudge and it is absolute genious. There are not many improvisers who remember to do these simple things, so when you watch someone who does it so well you really notice the difference and the level in which the comedy can be heightened to.

I find that from watching Neil and the gang at work is really inspiring because as a short form improviser, its very rare these days to see it performed on the stage and when you have excellent troupes such as this one it makes you feel better that you are producing a show that is also short form and with energy and not focussing on long form.

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