It is Podcast Month which means that we will be bringing you all the fun shows you should be carrying around in your back pocket on a phone. Today we speak to Emily Brady who makes it her job to get to know not just one person at a time but a whole improv troupe! I sat down with Improv Treehouse to find out all about the show.
Hello! Can you tell us a little bit about the team behind The Improv Treehouse?We are a high powered team of one! I (Emily Brady, hello) book the guests for the podcast, arrange spaces, record it, edit it, and market it! It’s nice to be able to set your own schedule, but I do rely on members of my local improv community MissImp for guests and support. Liam Webber, who organises a monthly improv show in Nottingham called Smash Night often puts me in contact with guest performers so I can nab them!
What is the show all about?
Improv Treehouse is all about getting members of Improv troupes to come and chat about their group and how it works. We cover everything from rehearsals to show structures to how they all met, so it often involves a lot of reminiscing! We’ve also done episodes with just one person – my first recording was actually with Susan Harrison – where we chatted about her workshop I’d just done! It’s basically what makes improvisers tick, and finding out about the kind of improv they like to do.
How did the podcast come about?
There was a very specific moment where I got the idea – I was listening to a group of friends who are in an Armando team, called Vox Pops, talk about the Armando format and how they rehearsed it. I’d never really got the format, but hearing them talk about it was the first time I properly understood it. It was so nice hearing them talk about it that I really wanted to capture that feeling of being part of that chat. I spoke to some people in the Nottingham community about my idea and they were hugely supportive – especially Nick Tyler and Marilyn Bird who continue to lend me equipment!
How do you decide what each of the episodes are about?
It really depends on the guest I get. There are certain questions I always like to ask – such as how individuals got into improv – but I’ll often be inspired by what the guests say. It also depends on if I’ve seen the show before, as that’ll often guide what kind of questions I want to ask.
What sort of styles of improv do you explore on your show?
Anything and everything! I’ve had short-form, long-form, musical, avant-garde, and Jane Austen themed to name but a few. I really like to get as many different kinds of group in as possible – the more the better. Improv in the UK is super diverse in terms of the kinds of show available, and I like to try and get as wide a cross section as possible because there’s just so much of it!
Your show is fortnightly – is it hard to produce a podcast on such a sharp turnaround?
It can be – having to organise with groups rather than individuals can make scheduling conflicts tricky if one person can’t do it. I also have to have quite a diverse tech set up, because if there are technical issues with the recording and I’ve only got the group for an hour I won’t have time to rerecord it. Thankfully I haven’t had any massive issues yet though! I’ve probably jinxed it.
What are your aims for your podcast in 2018?
I’d really like to get more diverse groups and voices from further around the country, and maybe even the world. I’m hoping to travel to some of the big arts festivals – such as the Edinburgh Fringe, Brighton Fringe, and the Birmingham Improv Festival – and record with artists there! Selfishly, I’d also love to get a more stable location to record in Nottingham – if you listen there is sometimes some pub background noise and I’d love to have somewhere permanent and soundproof!
“Don’t be afraid to hold off releasing them until you have a backlog ready to go!” – Emily, Improv Treehouse Podcast
How do you decide who to have as a guest on each show?
I look at the improv that’s happening around me and decide what I want to see. I also follow groups closely on social media and see what’s out there, and where it might make sense to travel to. I’m passionate about increasing the visibility of women in improv, so in a mixed gender group I always insist on having at least one of the women members of the troupe in the podcast.
What make you different to other podcasts out there?
I try and make it about the conversation between troupe members as much as possible. I always say that my favourite episodes are the ones in which I barely talk! It’s all about getting a sneaky insight into the group dynamic rather than focussing on the individuals too much. I love hearing groups discuss their ethos – I think it’s something you don’t often actually chat about, so its fun to hear people articulate it to each other.
Who would be your dream guest to appear and why?
There are so many, but if I’m being honest I got into improv through watching Whose Line Is It Anyway and I think if I was to get Josie Lawrence or Colin Mochrie on I’d have to edit out my own ecstatic sobs. There’s also a few groups who have been really formative to the way I do improv – including TJ and Dave, Cariad and Paul, Baby Wants Candy and Showstopper! – who I’d love to talk to.
What other podcasts are you a fan of and why?
I love Improv4Humans, as they often do scene work in podcasts which I really admire. I particularly look forward to their musical compilation episodes where they bring in artists and perform scenes based on their songs. Improv Nerd and Improv London are also some of my favourites, and hugely inspired me to set this up. Improv London even offered me technical advice! I also love Griefcast with Cariad Lloyd – her episode with Robert Webb brought me to tears on a packed train.
Are there any plans or have there been any live versions of your show?
I’d love to do it as a special, but I like the intimate style of the podcast as it is! But I love asking audience questions as part of the “Friends of the Improv Treehouse” section, so it would be nice to actually have humans there so I can stop mispronouncing names.
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting a podcast?
Firstly, DO IT! Secondly, definitely have three or more episodes in the bag before you start uploading. I only had two, and there were times where plans changed and deadlines got very tight. Don’t be afraid to hold off releasing them until you have a backlog ready to go!
# If people want to find out more about your show where should they visit online / social media?
We’re on Facebook and Twitter @improvtreehouse, and you can find us on SoundCloud!
# in three words why should people listen to your show
Friendly chattimes galore!