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 at an improv troupe that is performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their Doctor Who Themed show. I caught up with Any Suggestions Doctor to find out all about it.
Hello! Tell us about the Any Suggestions Improv?
We’re an improv group based (mostly) in York who love making up big, adventurous stories, as well as the odd spot of high energy short form shows. We are best known for our Doctor Who themed show.
How did you come up with the name of your show that you’re taking to the fringe?
We wanted to do a Doctor Who themed improv show, because anything can happen in all of time and space so it gives us endless scope for making up stories! We didn’t want to alienate any potential audience who weren’t clued up on every Doctor Who episode- by making our show a little separate from the TV phenomenon we can have fun parodying tropes and coming up with our own fun sci-fi theories, which everyone can get involved in.
Tell us a little bit about your style of improv?
We do a long form show that creates a brand new episode of Doctor Who based on audience suggestions. We get the setting (anywhere in space and time) and the title of the episode from the audience, and then have them select who they want to be the Doctor out of our cast. From there we create a brand new adventure, using an version of the “Harold” format to make a sci-fi story that (all being well) has action, adventure, romance and even occasionally a stellar twist. We’re primarily a comedy show, but we’re always pushing to make the show an adventure too.
What will your set be about?
All of space and time of course! The biggest benefit to doing a show about Doctor Who is that it is limitless. We’ve been to places as exotic as The Medusa Cascade, The Second Hindenburg Blimp (spoiler: there were Daleks involved) and Arthurian Britain, and to places as fabulously mundane as Slough and Milton Keynes. We can go anywhere in the universe, which means there’s always a mystery to solve and trouble to put an end to.
Why did you choose to do a Doctor Who themed show?
It all came out of two realisations – the first being that we all love Doctor Who so much that we wish we could write our own episodes. Couple that with our years of performing improv together and realised that we could make a completely unique show that would be both incredibly fun and potentially quite popular. From there we developed the format and are now returning to the Fringe for our third year!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
Quite a few of the troupe are looking forward to seeing each other’s shows, including Lewis Dunn’s slot in AAA Stand Up in Underbelly as his notoriously arrogant businessman character Stanley Brooks, and Matthew Stallworthy’s incredible drag queen persona Crudi Dench will be hosting Lip Sync Lollapalooza, the most amazing lip sync club night in the world. Outside of the troupe we’ll be checking out Alice Fraser: Ethos (a wonderfully smart comic who mixes high level philosophy with ludicrously silly jokes) The Shambles (our old alma mater and a brilliant place to see hysterical young improv talent), Elf Lyons (silliness at its best) and of course Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (like watching somebody summon genius as if it was as easy as breathing).
Have you done the fringe before? What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
This is our third year doing Any Suggestions Doctor, but the troupe have been coming up to the Fringe as performers for 7 years (and as punters for over a decade). There are too many incredible shows to list them all, but off the top of my head Deathship 666 was hysterical, Doctor Brown was eye opening, Sad Faces were untouchable and Thom Tuck never failed to impress.
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?
Never say never but I think it’d be hard to take something that needs as much prep and technical setup and adapt it to a form of theatre that absolutely relies on spontaneity and the unexpected. I think projection could be used quite well for on the fly sets, and we do of course incorporate a live radiophonic workshop that has some insanely cool tech working with it (our musician Alex Rushfirth is so talented he can create not only scores for the music on the fly, but adapt them into full orchestra’s with complete control over the tempo and composition).
What have been some of the most unique and different improv sets you have seen this year and why?
I recall last year a set that did improv with a robot companion that was certainly ambitious. Outside of that we’re always working with other troupes to try and invent new games and formats. One style was saw last year was Pint and a Half doing two person improv that absolutely blew our minds. Ludicrously impressive.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are on Facebook as Any Suggestions Doctor and on Twitter as @ASDImprov. We also have a website: https://www.anysuggestionsimprov.co.uk
And finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Doctor Who Improv
ED FRINGE QUICK FIRE ROUND
Best thing about performing at the fringe?
Doing a new show every day that’s always a hysterically funny.
The most challenging thing about performing at the fringe?
Living in a tiny flat with hundreds of people.
What three items are essential for a successful Fringe?
Thousands of Flyers, Good Shoes, a Bed.
What’s the secret to successful flyering?
Confidence and resilience. Never take a rejection personally (and be grateful that the nasty folk don’t come to your show!)
What are the best venue’s at the fringe?
Sweet Venues of course! (We are forever grateful to our generous benefactors.)