Funny At The Fringe – INTERVIEW – The Cambridge Impronauts: A Series of Improvable Events

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 they have been going for a whopping 14 years! I spoke James the Producer and Director to find out about their show this year.

2018CAMBRID_GBName Of Show: The Cambridge Impronauts: A Series of Improvable Events 

Time: 12:00

Date: August 1st – 27th

Location:  Gilded Balloon Teviot – Billiard Room (Venue 14)

Hello James! Tell us about the Cambridge Impronauts?

The Cambridge Impronauts are Cambridge University’s most beloved Improv Troupe. We have been going for 14 years and are considered one of the “must see” performances each term. We perform all over the city, all the time, for both student and local audiences but we don’t stop there. We have also performed around wider Cambridgeshire, down in London, at the Edinburgh fringe festival and this year we have even run an international charity tour “from Cambridge to California” in which we’ve been bringing laughter to audiences world wide! We put on both long form and short form shows in a range of genres from fantasy to musical to thriller to romcom to shakespeare! We are made up of over 20 members from the Cambridge area including many students from a range of degree backgrounds. We include engineers, biologists, historians, language students – everything you could image – but we all come together to practice our passion: Improv.

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

We are taking inspiration from a famous series of books that has recently made its way onto Netflix as a hit series. We figured we could have a lot of fun playing around with the same concept and adding our own comedy twists.

Tell us a little bit about your style of improv?

We are a famously friendly troupe. We all know each other very well and are great friends as well as improvising buddies. This bond between performers allows us to have a great sense of trust when on the stage. You know that when you put an idea out there, people will support you and run with it. This is the greatest safety net you could wish for as an improvisor – you know everyone has got your back. This allows us to make some very slick performances which is what we are known best for. There are no slip ups. There is no blocking of ideas. Everyone performs their best and it often leaves people refusing to believe that it isn’t just a well rehearsed, finely tuned, scripted show.


What will your set be about?

Our show’s content and the general mood of the performance are best conveyed in our show’s blurb:

If you are reading this then I implore you to stop now and read no further. For if you are in a chipper mood, or even just mildly content, I fear there would be nothing more dampening to your happy life than to see this show. Our story follows a group of innocent children who have just lost their parents in a terrible accident. I wish I could tell you that these orphans were relocated to a new home with a loving guardian where they lived happily ever after, but I am afraid I cannot. For if you have ever lived in the real world, as I have, you would find it a most improvable place – A phrase which here means a place where Improvisers make up very funny drama on the spot from audience suggestions. Their scenes will tell the tale of poor orphans, quirky guardians, secret organisations, hidden conspiracies and dastardly villains. Oh no, do not go and see this show… for it is sure to be A Series of Improvable Events.


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

Hivemind are performing at the Fringe again this year. They are a spinout group from the Impronauts based in London with whom we get on very well. We can’t wait to see their show at the fringe this year after watching the TWO shows they brought up last summer! Also, the other uni improv troupes are always fun to watch and hang out with. Its great to see what other student based groups are doing all across the UK. The Oxford Imps offer us some friendly “Oxbridge” competition on the Improv scene. The collaborations we do with them at the Fringe are always a highlight for both troupes, however much the “Oxford Vs Cambridge” rivalry exists!


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

Although the Impronauts have done the fringe many times, lots of our new members this year are coming to the fringe for their debut Edinburgh performance! They are accompanied by some veterans who have attended the fringe for many years so there will be an excellent dynamic between the fresh new talent and the seasoned oldies like myself!

My favourite show would have to be SNAP. They are a bunch of incredibly talented magicians who honestly took my breath away. I was in complete awe after their performance last year and will certainly be seeing them again!


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?

VR is not something that we have experience with but i do think there is a lot to say about technology’s place in the Improv world. With the abundance of smart mobile devices in our audience these days, I would be keen to see how a live voting system could work where the audience gets to vote on plot points as the show goes along. It would allow us to keep up the audience interaction and help them shape the show without us having to break the flow in order to ask them where they want the plot to go next.

I would also say that it is nice that Improv currently doesn’t have to involve looking at screens and technology. We spend perhaps a little too much time locked with our eyes to screens these days in our own little worlds. I think Improv allows us to escape all that and come together as a community of people who all want to have a good time and create something together that makes everybody happy. It’s nice that Improv doesn’t HAVE to include loads of technology while the rest of the world runs away with all the latest gizmo’s and gadgets.


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

Mischief Movie Night was an excellent performance by the same troupe that do the highly coveted “Play that goes wrong”. They were literally running up and down the audience, through the isles and up into the royal circle! It was such an immersive piece and incredibly funny. I’ve never seen improv done so well in such a large theatre where often the intimacy is lost. They did a great job.


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

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram just search for @Impronauts


And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?

Very Funny Drama”  – You’ll get it if you’re a fan of the genre 😉



Best thing about performing at the fringe?

The people you meet on the royal mile. Stop and talk to people about their show! Everyone is so friendly and fascinating to converse with.


The most challenging thing about performing at the fringe?

When people aren’t at Cambridge University they disperse back to their home towns all over the UK so organising a team of improvisors to get up to Edinburgh all via phone calls, messages and Skype sessions has been a logistical nightmare! haha!


What three items are essential for a successful Fringe?

Umbrella, sun cream, an unwavering smile!


What’s the secret to successful flyering?

Make it a conversation, not a sales pitch.


What are the best venue’s at the fringe?

Gotta love that Gilded Balloon Teviot! What a stunning building!

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