If you are lucky enough to find yourself in London on a Sunday and are in need to watch an Improv show, then you should head down to the Nursery Theatre just off Moorgate / Liverpool Street area. Every Sunday a few improv troupes get to be part of a show called Carousel – this is where acts have a spot for 4 weeks to focus on their show and sort of use it as a climbing frame to see what works well with their show and helps them to develop it. This weeks show of the week is currently taking part in the Carousel event and if you have a chance to see them, then you should! I sat down with Ian from Nerd Salad to find out all about their shows to come.
Hello Ian, Tell us about Nerd Salad Improv you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
Hello, I’m Ian from Nerd Salad, and I’m the only one with literacy skills who doesn’t curse like a sailor. We originally were 6, went down to 5 before our first rehearsal, reduced to as little as 3, and now there is roughly 9 who rehearse and perform regularly. I dare you to try and get all of us in the same room at the same time. At the moment there’s me, Bernard, Azhul, Martin, Kate, Sarim, Miriam, Helen & Nadine with Claire & Kieran (who are on a break), and probably two more whom I’ve forgotten.
We formed around 18 months ago off the back of meeting at Hoopla courses, performing with each other at end of course showcases and generally just seeing people around shows. Again, trying to find an actual date/month of when we formed is tricky. We’d have to go back through a lot of WhatsApp messages…
How did you come up with the name of you troupe?
You mean to those who haven’t heard me bang on about it on a podcast? Well it all comes from a still from an episode of The Simpsons, where they list Acceptable Stereotypes (a Nerd), and things to mime (tossing a Salad). It’s also the name of the second album by 80’s pop trio Johnny Hates Jazz (it’s not, but I feel I’ve gotten to the point where I’m allowed to start rumours about the group).
Tell us a little bit about the show you are performing on this week March 4th at Carousel?
Our show will be a variation on the Pretty Flower – if you don’t know what that is, then don’t worry. We try and let the form not take over the show – if you get too bogged down in format, you start to forget how to make things fun. All we’ll need to start is a location, so if people want to start thinking of where they would like to see some very serious comedy, then that would be great.
For those who do not know – what is Carousel at The Nursery?
I’m not sure whose idea it was, but The Carousel is a great idea for a night. You get a run of 4 shows in a row, of around 20-25 minutes. There are four teams each week – in your first week you open the show. The second week you move up to second, and the ‘headliner’ leaves, replaced by a new act who open the show. As you go round, you move up until you ‘headline’ and then you exit the carousel. Each week is similar, but different, and as you all get the same amount of time, I think it’s great.
I’ve seen who is on at the same weeks as us, and there are some really fantastic acts – Gibberish Allsorts, The Verbs, Charm & Strange…I’m particularly looking forward to Improbotics, and The Right Kind of Trouble – I’ve heard really good things about the latter, so I can’t wait to see them.
why do you think it’s good to do a Carousel?
There are loads of reasons to do a Carousel (and yes, we shall be applying again…):
1: You get 4 shows in a row, with no pressure on doing the same format. It gives groups time to practise a format, and adapt it without having to wait a long time for your next show.
2: Being allowed 20-25 minutes is invaluable to groups like ours – as forms develop, they sometimes tend to take a narrative-type structure. Having more time gives groups more time to flesh out and develop a story.
3: You get to meet and watch 3 other groups a week – improvisers are fun people to hang out with, and it’s great to be able to perform in front of your peers. Classes are fun, but this way groups formed at different schools get to meet each other, make connections and hopefully perform together in the future.
What sort of style of improv does Nerd Salad do? Do you always do the same format?
We used to use a short-form game (SlideShow) as a jumping point into long form scenes. Now, we just go straight into more long-form scenes.
At the moment we try and keep to the same format, but we currently have a couple of ideas/forms floating around. We tend to have one eye on the next show, and build towards that. After The Carousel run, we may go back to one of our other formats and try and drill down in those. Whilst playing with traditional formats is great, it’s also fun to develop your own, as a team. I have a million improv ideas floating around in my head, but whether they get translated into Nerd Salad shows remains to be seen…
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Aw bless them. They can hit us up on the Twitter @NerdSalad (we follow back!), on the Facebook @NerdSaladImprov and through our website www.nerd-salad.com, which is home to the rarely-viewed and currently on indefinite hiatus Nerd Salad blog. As some point, when we hire an intern, we will be on Instagram and Snapchat.
What do you think 2018 holds for the world of improv – what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?
I’d like to see improv appear in more events guides – open mic stand-up shows seem to get a free pass, but seeing a listing for an improv show in Time Out is like finding a unicorn. So I’d like to see improv have the same respect over here as it does in America. The performers are definitely just as talented. And I’d love to see more opportunities for groups – I know it’s easier said than done, as some nights find it hard to fill a bill, and some nights get over-subscribed. But then that’s on the groups who need to make the effort to perform whenever and wherever they can, and turn up when they’re booked. Not everyone can get to headline on a Friday night…
And Finally – in three words, why should people come and see you at The Nursery?
Spite or curiosity
QUICK FIRE ROUND
This question cannot be answered in a quickfire section – please see Chapter 17 of my autobiography. But if you need an answer, let’s say 30 Rock. Tracy Jordan is a magnificent character.
I want to be Seth Meyers, please and thank you.
Favourite short form game to play in improv?
New Choice. I’ve definitely had the most fun with that, both in practice and on stage. Or Slideshow, because it made for some great early Nerd Salad shows.
The last thing you liked on social media?
Ian – A tweet about a little girl outside the Museum of Science whispering to a life-size T-Rex model ‘Wake up dinosaur. Come on, wake up. You can do it’. I believe in that girl.
NS – A Nursery tweet promoting their livestream on a Friday/Saturday.
What would your autobiography be called?
From Welling to the White House – My Improbable Journey to U.S. President
What is your favourite joke?
Less a joke, more a quote:
“I thought I’d begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.”
Improv group you would love to collaborate with?
I would love to just be on the same bill as Do Not Adjust Your Stage or The RH Experience. They are amazingly talented groups.