It is Classic Andy Month on The Phoenix Remix and we are not just giving you group interviews we are also giving you a proper introduction to each member of the troupe! Today we talk to member Jennifer Jordan to find out all about her world of improv.
Hello Jennifer! How long have you been improvising?
Almost 4 years
How did you get into improv?
I was living in Vancouver and whilst busking on Granville Island I had noticed a building with the sign ‘Vancouver TheatreSports League’ and I thought…’huh, I wonder what that is…’ And went to see a show. Like any good improv theatre they were advertising drop-ins and classes so I thought I’d give it a go. I’d done some improv at this point already from my Acting degree and in various rehearsals / auditions but it had always terrified me and I thought I was terrible at it, which is partly why I decided to give it a go. Face the fear and try to gain a new skill as an actor. Of course, it didn’t take long before I got hooked.
What is your favourite style of improv and why?
That’s tricky. I definitely love watching narrative stuff because it’s so satisfying when you watch a group pull a story together and make sense of it all in the last 5-10 minutes. Murder mysteries like Criminal are especially fun for that. I also really love watching musical improv because it’s just an extra level of fun and feel good factor haha. In terms of performing, I’m really enjoying trying to improvise ‘plays’ with both Somewhat Theatre and Actor’s Nightmare.
I love having the space to just be with one other person on stage and feel no pressure to be funny but allow true emotional moments and really let a scene breathe. I love that feeling. I also absolutely adore The Concept with all my heart. Probably because in creating a ‘concept album’ there is a similar freedom of not having to rhyme or be funny but just to be honest and bold, letting the music whisk you to surprising places. I also love harmonising in the moment.
Who are your top five improvisers and why?
Are you kidding?!?!! What a horrendously difficult question. Ok, in no particular order:
+ Susan Messing. She just gives zero f***s and is unapologetically bold in everything she does. She misses nothing, takes every opportunity, and is not afraid to go dark or political in her shows, whilst also being unbelievably funny. Her character work is fantastic, and she breaks the audience / performer barrier in every show. She’s not afraid to get down & dirty and that is so inspiring.
+ Craig Uhler (iO). There’s a tshirt you can buy from iO Chicago which says ‘If I was having any more fun I’d be Craig Uhler’ – and there’s a good reason that tshirt exists. He is like a child playing make believe and the joy he is having just oozes out of him and infect everyone nearby. Love that guy
+ Ken Lawon (VTSL) is probably the happiest improviser on earth, and the kindest. Again, joy and playfulness just bounces out of his happy and ridiculous face. So much love for Ken.
+ Shantira Jackson (iO). I don’t think I can represent how incredible Shantira is in words. Just another amazing, fearless performer who uses comedy so skilfully to call out injustices and prejudices in our society. Nothing is off the table, and everything is hilarious.
Ok this is a cheeky one because she’s now a friend of mine and closely related to Classic Andy being James’ fiancée, but I just adore Rhiannon Vivian. She is a genuine inspiration for me in how to embrace how your own brain works and really enjoy your own uniqueness. She joyfully takes on the weird and the left field, looks so calm and centred on stage and is ridiculously endearing. I loved her before I got to know her, and now I love her even more.
What is your favourite warmup game ?
I think it’s Dutch/Danish clapping. It just immediately brings a massive smile to my face , connects me with my partner, and gets my energy up.
What is your favourite short form game?
Moving bodies and cross-dubbing
What are three top tips anyone has ever taught you in improv?
1) Embrace your inner puppy
2) Don’t focus on not being in your head, focus on being somewhere else (body, heart etc)
3) Never blame a scene on your partner. Whatever happens, it happens together and you share the responsibility completely equally. Your partner is a genius, and so are you.
In no more than 5 words, what advice would you give them?
Just listen and have fun
What are your favourite acts you’ve come across this year and why?
+Dragprov Revue. They have a fantastic dynamic together, I LOVE drag, and their improv is so connected and playful – as are their songs. The whole setup for the show is just brilliant too and perfectly executed.
+Sonder/Unmade Theatre. Their show Neverfolk last year blew me away with it’s glorious theatricality and integrity. The opening ten minutes where they collectively tell a folk tale with various found objects being puppeteered to visualise what was being described was just like nothing I’d seen before in improv and I’ll never forget it. Equally this year their approach to a realistic, emotionally grounded show was refreshing to see on the the scene. Very excited to see what they continue to produce.
How would you describe your own personal style of improv?
Cheeky, characterful, a bit odd.
Describe each Classic Andy member in one word
James H: Heartfelt
James W: Excitable