Funny At The Fringe – INTERVIEW – Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes

It is festival season and that means that in the next month there is so many great comedy festivals to look forward to! This month we are talking to acts performing at an array of festivals to find out more about their sets and what they have planned for their shows. Today we look an improv group that on the adventure to solve a murder mystery. Take a leap back to Victorian times and delve into the world of Sherlock Homes with this fantastic improv troupe. I spoke to Tom to find out all about this years show.

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 23.33.48Name Of Show: Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes

Time: 14:00

Date: 2-26th August (except the 13th)

Location: Just The Tonic at La Belle Angele (Venue 301)

Hello Tom! Tell us about Improvised Sherlock?

A thrilling new adventure each day through the underworld of Victorian Britain, packed with shady villains, red herrings and the brilliant deductions of London’s great detective.

How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the fringe?

The shortest way of telling you everything about the show (try explaining a pun on the Mile…)

Tell us a little bit about your style of improv?

We’re narrative improvisers acting an hour-long story. We focus on characters you care about, situations that will thrill you, and we trust that the belly laughs will come (they do! Take a look at our reviews!)

In terms of inspiration, everyone who does what we do will probably namecheck Parallelogramophonograph from Austin, Texas. They’ve transformed what you can do with an ‘improvised play’.

What will your set be about?

Mystery, crime, the extremes of human emotion; one of the great friendships ever to be captured in storytelling.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?

Douglas Walker (sometime guest performer) is the smartest standup on the circuit; Cariad and Paul are the improvisers’ improvisers.

We need to plug our other shows of course: if you like what we do you’ll like all of Bumper Blyton, Racing Minds, Impromptu Shakespeare, Murder She Didn’t Write, and Blind Eye Spy. See them all !

Have you done the Fringe before? What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?

We’re all Fringe veterans. In the mid 2000s our director once organised a variety show in a flat for an injured comedian; Abandonman compered and Josie Long headlined to a packed (living) room. That’s still hard to beat. We liked the storytelling in the Jethro Compton trilogies; last year’s “Counting Sheep” for a fix of Ukrainian immersive drama. Gecko’s “The institute”, an early Claudia O’Doherty show called ‘Simply Fancy’. Trygve Wakenshaw’s first show ‘Squidboy’. Nicholas Parsons telling ghost stories. The reason we *ARE * Fringe veterans is because the best show will always be the next one. We’re hooked.

Some acts have already tried it and done shows in the environment but do you think virtual reality has a space to be used in improv and what other modern technologies do you think could alter the way we interact and watch improv?

Here’s our amateur guess: until the tech matures, it’ll more be a question of how improv can help VR (letting real humans respond to how a user acts) rather than how VR can transform improv. But in the long term, the opportunities to spin a world around a single person are limitless.

As for other tech, we’re excited by anything that helps made-up theatre be more accessible. Speech recognition to generate titles above the stage, for instance.

What have been some of the most unique and different improv sets you have seen this year and why?

This year – we’ve been busy. In history, Parallelogramophonograph. One of us saw them in 2011 and was inspired to open a theatre.

If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?

How good of you to ask! We’re intermittently @improvsherlock on Twitter and post this and that on Being Victorians, though, we’re better face-to-face – so do come say hi after the show.

And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
hilarious, thrilling, mystery


Favourite Arthur Conan Doyle story and why?
The speckled band: chilling horror, a neat twist, and the added complication that as it’s written, the solution couldn’t be the… actual solution. It’s also Arthur Conan Doyle’s favourite.

Favourite way that Sherlock has resolved a crime and why?
Spoiler alert – we love a scandal in Bohemia – Holmes resolves a crime by recognising he’s beaten. However did Adler see through his cleric’s disguise?

Who has been your favourite Sherlock and Watson in the Television and Film adaptions and why?
Jeremy Brett / Edward Hardwicke from the 1980s. A very traditional take, but Brett totally lived the character, in darkness and light. Also, Brett was in ‘My Fair Lady’ and we enjoy the incongruous link with musical theatre…

Have you been to the Sherlock conventions that happen in the UK?
No but we’d love to do so! Literary festivals are the closest we’ve come (and we correspond with societies fairly often, so never say never. Say ‘soon’.)

What is your favourite thing about Sherlock Holmes and Why?

The greatness of Sherlock Holmes is the comfort that someone, somewhere, has all the answers – and they happen to be on the side of justice. In a world like ours, no wonder the great detective still gets post.

What is your least favourite and why?
Irene Adler is awesome but we’d like more like her – It’s a bit too common in improv to be the woman.

The books never really reveal how Sherlock escaped the fall at Reichenbach – what is your theory how he survived?
Oooh. Well, we can only speculate, but did the fall ever take place? Watson came to the edge and found a series of clues suggesting a fall – Watson, the man who spent the entire canon missing the telling details of a crime scene! As he describes his own reasoning from the evidence, “It was, alas, only too easy to do.”

Too easy!

Moreover, the famous Sydney Padget illustration of Sherlock and Moriarty going over the falls is the only one signed with the illustrator’s full name. Why? A last hurrah from a craftsman expecting a run of work to have ended? Or a coded message that this is the only drawing taken from imagination, rather than life?

We know which we like to believe…


Best thing about performing at the fringe?
Eating in snack bars next to your childhood heroes.

The most challenging thing about performing at the fringe?
Energy. The cliché is true – you’re a marathon runner and have to pace yourself.

What three items are essential for a successful Fringe?

  1. Something with pockets to stash the flyers you’re given, and to protect your own from the rain: a capacious hoodie does the job (and has a hood, as a bonus).
  2. A mental map of the city: it’s a multilevel labyrinth.
  3. A stack of guides to all the other festivals happening at the same time. Art! Books! High culture! You’re spoiled you lucky thing.

What’s the secret to successful flyering?
Telling the truth! Although we accept that’s easier if, like us, you’re flyering a show you love.

What are the best venue’s at the fringe?
We have to say Just the Tonic, of course! We’ve been there four years now, and it’s a big messy family. Summerhall is always interesting; the Stand keeps the flame alive.

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