For this weeks show of the week are heading all the way down to Brighton again for a very special treat. Improv troupe Buffet Improv are performing alongside The Maydays on November the 2nd at the Komedia. I caught up with Russ find out all about it.

Hello Russ tell us all about who you all are Buffet Improv and a little bit about yourselves?

We’re a group of 12 improvisors that are based in London, but come from all over the place. We’ve been an official team for a year now, but have been playing together for about two.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously and love playing together on and off stage. Have you ever had a waitress approach your table and ask you to collectively stop making animal noises? We have. Mooo!

We mean it when we say that everyone in Buffet brings something different to the table. We each have our own unique backgrounds, perspectives, characters, and physicality that we bring to our shows and practices. Feel free to learn a little bit more about our individual players here.

How did Buffet Improv form?

The story we tell people:
We all came up through various Hoopla! courses and started gravitating towards one another. We enjoyed playing so much, that we started to host improv sessions at one another’s houses until Jon said “hey we should form a group!” and Buffet was born.

The real story:
Jon was walking in a field at dusk one autumn evening in 2017. While he was walking he stubbed his toe on an old wooden case partially buried in the ground. He dug up the case and opened it and discovered a rusted bugle. He brought this old-looking instrument to his lips and gave it a triumphant blow. The sound echoed across the land, birds took flight, and the ground rumbled. To Jon’s surprise, 11 silhouettes starting approaching him from this distance and coming from every angle. He was surrounded. As the group approached him, he recognised everyone from Hoopla improv classes. Strangely, everyone in the group had an item of food. It was on that evening that we collectively proclaimed that we would form an improv troupe and be known as Buffet.

Tell us a little bit about the show that is happening this week?

This week, Buffet will be opening for The Maydays in Brighton! Full details here.

Buffet, with only a single-word suggestion, will create an abundance of improvised scenes, characters and situations for you to dine on. So come hungry for some high-energy, unpredictable fun and all-you-can-eat laughter.

The Maydays will be presenting Tonight’s Top Story! Inspired by newspaper articles cut out by the audience just minutes before curtain time. This is improv without tricks, gimmicks or games, just a live comedic exploration, through scenes and songs, of the secret heart of your city. It is the world only hinted at by your local paper but finally revealed by the comedic x-ray vision of The Maydays.

You are also performing at a show with the Maydays! They are so iconic on the Improv scene – what are some of your favourite things you have seen them do on stage?

We love the Maydays and are super obsessed with everything they do! Some of us have been able to attend the infamous Mayday’s retreat and we able to see them play every evening.

If you haven’t seen it, their Happily Never After show is amazing! They combine the magic of improv with the style of Tim Burton.

We love watching the Maydays because their experience shines through. Not just their experience as improvisors, but their experience playing together as one cohesive team. They work really well together and listen to each other, no suggestion is dropped and commitment is 100%!

With the Festival season just finished – what have been some of the best acts you have seen this summer and why?

There are too many to count, but here are three.

Baby Wants Candy are great at what they do. With their Yes Band, they perform musical numbers that are an absolute delight to watch. If you haven’t heard them before, they have a podcast, so check them out.

Austentatious was another great group to watch. They combine talented improvisors and great costume/set design to deliver a spectacular Jane Austen play (based on audience suggestions of course).

Bendy House improv is a spectacular twoprov troupe that we love to watch. They are great a building seemingly real relationships between their characters giving you something to really connect with as an audience. They are also super dedicated to their craft; they did their Edinburgh run right after doing the 5-week Chicago IO intensive.

What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe?

My first bit of advice would be to read this article. Hoopla put together a comprehensive overview in forming a group that we find to be spot on.

In terms of what has worked for us, we would say the following:

  • Be consistent – we rehearse weekly and are constantly pushing ourselves to try new things. If you are committed to your group and craft, work at it consistently.
  • Be communicative – mutual understanding is important. Whether it is discussing boundaries, roles, or formats. Give everyone the opportunity to speak as the best ideas come from everywhere.
  • Be big – for us, having a larger troupe of 12 performers, means we can attend more shows. As long as we have a handful of buffeters ready to play, we can take on any performance opportunity.
  • Be curious – the best thing you can do after a show is ask for feedback from your host (and push for both positive and negative feedback alike). This will make you better as a team.
  • Be humble – we’re not shy about asking for help or coaching. We know there are plenty of people that have much more experience than us, and we want to learn from them!
  • Be present – don’t scurry away after a show. Stick around and talk audience members that liked your show, other teams, and your host. It is a great way to understand what people like and often leads to more performance opportunities.
  • Be friends – it is important that you hang out with your team outside of shows and rehearsals. If you don’t enjoy one another’s company as friends it is tough to play together as performers.

What is the best thing about a night at Buffet Improv show for the audience?

Audiences tell us that we are a troupe that is both high-energy and quite unpredictable. The best thing for audiences, when they walk away from one of our shows, is that they will feel completely energised and ready to take on the world!

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

What is YOUR favourite Buffet Improv show you have done this year and why?

Our favourite show this year was also our first. Not only was it our first show, it was also the first time we performed our brand new format called WildCard.

We had so much nervous energy because it was our first show and we had no idea how the cards were going to work, but it went really well. We had a meaningful love story, set in a gym, we had fun flashbacks and new objects injected by the turn of the cards and we had so much FUN!

It was really satisfying to see a format go from an idea to a show and see everyone work together to get it to that place. Even though we’ve put WildCard on hiatus, that was still one of our fave moments, especially as people asked us at the end if they could use the format too

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

Random, high-energy, fun!

QUICK FIRE ROUND

 If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
A peacock, because they have great stage presence.

Who is your favorite superhero and why?
Captain Improv! A miraculous superhero that can adapt to any situation and support you no matter what you suggest! We’re pretty sure Captain Improv wears a lobster costume.

If a movie was made of your life what genre would it be, who would play you?
It would be an action thriller! We would have one actor play each member of Buffet, like the guy who played all the oompa loompas in the last Willy Wonka movie.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
We’d go to Brighton to play with the Maydays 😉

What would you do with your “15 minutes” of fame?
Make some jokes. Try to raise awareness of some worthy causes.

What is one item you could NEVER live without?
Is attention an item? If so, attention. If not…ummm… a mug?

 Last time you laughed very hard out loud?
Recently, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary with, you guessed it, a Buffet! As we reminisced about the year that had past we had some serious laughs. Special shout out to our teammate Sarah, that hosted us the day after breaking her arm outside the Miller!

What is your favorite movie quote?
“Oh! All of ya! Come over here, big group hug! Group hug! Do you mind if I kiss the monkey? Ooh, hairball!”  – Genie from Aladdin