This week we are heading to Reading for our Show of the Week. Mad Monkey have been together for 5 years and are going from strength to strength and this week is your chance to see their hit show MISSION:IMPROVable. I sat down with Alexander to find out more.
Hello Alexander! How did you come up with the name?
It came about through a brainstorming session. I was working with another actor, and I was trying to figure out what to call the troupe. Monkey’s I thought were always cheeky and fun, and I wanted my improv troupe to have the same feel. Alliteration always makes things roll off the tongue, so went with Mad Monkey Improv.
Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening this week?
We have got our regular show MISSION:IMPROVable. It’s a short form show with all your favourite short form games. One of our signature games is Mousetraps, where 2 improvisers perform a scene with live mousetraps all over the floor. Not only that, they are blindfolded and bare foot for extra drama!
What sort of style of improv can people expect?
Lots of games, lots of characters, lots of fun! We perform around 15-20 short form games depending on the night, with lots of chances to push our improvisers to the limits, and some audience participation along the way.
What’s the highlights of some of your previous shows that you have hosted?
We performed at a corporate event to 500 kids at the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade summer camp, which was very surreal, but great fun! We asked for a random prop from the audience and a woman gave us her prosthetic leg!
You guys are based in Reading – tell us, what is the improv scene like there?
The Improv scene in Reading is getting busier and busier with every passing month. There are now 4 regular troupes, with a show each week.
1st Friday of the month – What’s the Game Improv – short and long form.
2nd Friday of the month – The McClanes – Twoprov Troupe – short and long form.
3rd Friday of the month – The Free Radicals – Science based show – short and long form.
4th Friday of the month – Mad Monkey Improv – Short form.
5th Friday of the month – Open Jam – Improv, stand up, comedy, sketches.
If someone wanted to learn Improv in Reading, what would you advise?
YES! There is a regular drop in session on a Wednesday night run by Seamus Allen (What’s the game improv) who is amazing! London folk might recognise him from the 50 hour improvathons! Every Wednesday night, and only £8 for 2 hours. A bargain!
A lot of people at the moment are trying to transition improv into video to post on social media channels – do you think this works for improv or do you think the art form is lost in the transition?
I think it’s great to try new things, but for me Improv will always work best live with an audience right in front of you, making you sweat! Plus it makes it more fun! I think streaming shows and recording them is fine, but it’s no replacement for being there in the room when everything happens!
What have been some of the most unique and different improv sets you have seen this year and why?
I went to see a few episodes of the 50 hour improvathon in London the other month and that was amazing! The talent of the performers, especially after being awake and performing for 50 hours was incredible. Some hilarious moments as well!
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
What do you think 2018 holds for the world of improv – what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?
Well we have got our 5 year anniversary in September which we are very excited about. 5 years since it all began, so we are looking at hosting a very special show for that! The improv scene in Reading is getting busier and busier, and we want to become a hub for improv in the home counties. That’s the plan for 2018, and we are well on the way to it happening.
I think the world of improv is getting more publicity which is great, as audience members are starting to come from all walks of life, not just the improv or theatre community.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see you at Smokin’ Billys in Reading?
MOUSETRAPS! MADNESS! FUN!
QUICK FIRE ROUND
If you could buy any type of food (right now) what would you buy?
Avocado – I’m in the mood for some avocado on toast right now….I might have to buy some on the way home. I have a craving.
What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list?
Skydiving – I would shit myself before, but want to try it.
Who do you admire the most and why?
Robin Williams – From Dead Poet’s Society he taught me carpe diem – Seize the day. Take a risk and try something. Whenever I have been umming and arring about something, I just say “fuck it!” What’s the worst that could possibly happen.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Giant, Hairy, Sarcastic
When I dance, I look like…?
A drunk flamingo who forgot which leg to stand on
What is your favourite T.V. channel?
Gold – Classic British comedy all the way!
If you could get a yacht what would you call it?
Sir Yachtalot or Colin.
What TV sitcom family would you be a member of?
Last item you purchased?
A boots meal deal
If you could win any award what would it be, why?