Duck Duck Goose Improv is one of South Londons Longest Running weekly jams that happens every Monday in Brixton. On the 12th of June this week, the Duck Duck Goose Team are heading over to The Nursery in Finsbury Avenue Square to showcase their wide range of groups and formats. They will be joined by a variety of groups as well including The Parentheticals, Gorilla Panic, 20% Less Glow in The Dark and much more. I sat down with one of the founders of Duck Duck Goose, Victoria, to find out more about this weeks show.
Hello Victoria! Tell us all about Duck Duck Goose!
DDG is a free weekly jam in Brixton, South London, held in a great pub called the Effra Social, where anyone can get up and improvise. Team DDG are myself, Steff Prince, Brendan Way, Dan Luxton, Maddy Hunter, Ali Kent and Monica Gaga. We all host and run the show’s weekly admin in turn and we’re all in various improv teams. We’ll invite a person to join Team DDG if they come to the show regularly and feel like a good fit: they don’t have to be an experienced player, all that matters is that they’re into our night. DDG is very much a ‘path of least resistance’ operation.
How did you come up with the name of your show?
When my old Harold team buddy and DDG co-founder Waleed Akhtar and I were naming the show back in 2014, I cycled a f*ck-ton of names in his patient face until he finally said, “Yeah! That one!” meaning, “Stop or I’ll kill you.” Other of the million suggestions included ‘Hotdog’, ‘The Yes-And Gang’, ‘Rocking Horse Improv’, ‘Clean Sweep’, ‘Lights Up’, ‘Improvnado’ and ‘Improvicane’. I know this because I’m an assiduous note-taker*. These options now read like a very successful experiment in quantity over quality. By the way, I don’t claim that ‘Duck Duck Goose’ is the least awful. It was merely the least awful that day.
Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening this week ?
We’re excited this week because we’re putting on a little takeover at The Nursery Theatre for the second year running, which we call, in a dazzling bird-facing word-play on ‘No Guts No Glory’, ‘No Guts No Guano’. It features all the Team DDG teams plus our classic jam, and it’s really fun to be in a different venue in a different part of town on a different night to a Monday. This one’s Tuesday 12 June and you can check out all the details at www.thenurserytheatre.com
What sort of style of improv can people expect?
At No Guts No Guano, we will showcase each of Team DDG’s improv troupes. These include house team DuckDuckTales, which runs a Choose Your Own Adventure-style narrative format, and The Parentheticals, who run a narrative quest. There’s two-provs Derek’s Mojo (scenes inspired by short-form games) and Gorilla Panic (connected scenes); Glow In The Dark and Ramshackle (both montage-based teams built from DDG’s own jammer community) and 20% Less, an all-woman team who run a Pretty Flower. There’ll be a jam, too, which will be scenes by audience members off the back of a single suggestion.
At our usual Monday night jam at the Effra Social, the jams are always long-form, ie. scenes-based. Sometimes we’ll have a short-form team guesting and sometimes short-form games creep into a scene. But it’s traditionally a long-form show. This week, as usual, we have three awesome acts: Joe and Ali (I know Joe from a great two-prov course run by The Nursery Theatre’s Jules Munns in 2016); Dark Matters (a unique storytelling team who use shadow puppets) and Charm and Strange (a troupe founded and coached by BIG NOW’s Lizzy Mace and Sophie Pumphrey). There’s nothing unusual about our having such a diverse and talented line-up for a DDG show, though. The London improv scene is incredibly febrile and talent-packed right now. We have a range of awesome guests and formats every week.
Organising a weekly show must be a lot of hard work?
We have two rules: 1. We never approach acts. 2. If you ask to play, we will book you. We have run this ‘system’ for over four years now (DDG’s primary motto of: ‘Fun; Friendly; Free’, is closely followed, as I said earlier, by ‘Taking The Path of Least Resistance Since 2014’). As systems go, it works exceptionally well. We book six months in advance with no drama. The marketing admin is run weekly, in turn, in alphabetical name order. Simples.
What’s the highlights of some of your previous shows?
There’ve been thousands of clever and funny scenes and lines at DDG, it’s impossible to say. I love it when a jammer does something supportive yet surprising. Oh – and I’ll never forget Mike Hutcherson climbing out onto a broken second-floor window ledge during a particularly boisterous Mike and Charlie set at our old venue. As the insurance-policy-free host of the show, I found it truly exhilarating to watch.
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?
Do you mean when improv shows broadcast their sets live online, like you’d get a theatre show screened in a cinema? If so, I think it’s fine. If it doesn’t completely translate, then the technology will catch up or adapt to create a compromise. And if you’re not in a big town or a city with access to venues or a thriving improv scene or your health precludes you from being physically in the space, this is a way for you to see how the form works so that you can start up some improv fun of your own. So yeah, why not?
What have been the most unique improv sets you have seen this year?
Right now I’m loving the utterly unique drag-prov genius that is The Bareback Kings (a superbly funny all-woman team in male drag, playing an adapted Living Room format). They are all super-‘woke’ and off the chain and they play with gender like no other team I’ve witnessed. I also love the brilliant BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) team Nu Z LandThey are all hilarious performers and equally woke, and they bring a much-needed BAME-centric perspective to a predominantly white improv landscape. Both teams are important in terms of diversity and are thrilling to watch.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Facebook/duckduckg (please like ‘Bryan Gosling’ on FB, too). Twitter: @duckduckg. Our website is www.ddgimprov.com . Receive our mailer by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are some of the shows that you guys have coming up for the rest of the year?
We run our jam every Monday 8pm-10.15pm at the Effra Social, Brixton, apart from our August and Christmas annual breaks. Check the website for details and upcoming guests.
In three words, why should people come and see the show?
Please see above.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Answers provided by DDG’s Facebook avatar: Bryan Gosling.
If you could buy any type of food (right now) what would you buy?
What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list?
Our actual Effra Social bucket. We use it every week to draw jammer names.
Who do you admire the most and why?
Mother Goose. She really understands narrative.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Fun. Friendly. Free.
When I dance, I look like…
A funky chicken
If you could get a yacht what would you call it?
What TV sitcom family would you be a member of?
Tina Fey’s 30 Quack.
Last item(s) you purchased?
Two chairs, lights and some silence.
If you could win any award what would it be?
That one for when you have to dive for a brick in your pyjamas. I’m a confident swimmer.
To sign up to the DDG mailer and read about shows go to www.ddgimprov.com and Facebook/duckduckg . Please friend Bryan Gosling and join the group Duck Duck Goose Improv. On Twitter, @duckduckg.