It is nearing the end of 2018 and what we like to do here on The Phoenix Remix is celebrate the world of improv and what a year it has been! There has been so many great acts and shows this year and it has been really hard to decide who to interview for our mini awards that we hold at the end of the year. So on the run up to new year we will have a couple of exclusive interviews with some of the best acts that we have had the privilege of seeing or listening to this year.
This year there has been some great Improv Podcasts on the scene but there is one that has had a really great year and has had some really interesting guests. So there was only one podcast that I wanted to make the Improv Podcast of The Year – Improv Treehouse. I spoke to Emily to find out all about it!
Congratulations Emily, you have won the award for best Improv Podcast of 2018 How do you feel?
You like me, you really like me!! In all seriousness, it’s so lovely, thank you! I love doing the podcast for its own sake, but getting any sort of recognition makes me feel really proud of all the hard work that’s gone into it. I can’t take all of the credit though – we’ve had some really incredible guests this year who’ve made the podcast what it is!
How did the idea of Improv Treehouse come around?
I’ve always loved podcasts and improv so it just seemed right to marry the two! I’m part of an improv community in Nottingham who were super supportive of me when I was brainstorming ideas. The kind of lightbulb moment came when my friend Ben was trying to explain what an Armando was to me – it’s the format used by Missimp team The Vox Pops. I just didn’t get it until the whole team was chatting about it, and swapping ideas, and I was like oh! I understand it, and this was a really nice way of finding out about it! So that really inspired me to adopt an interview format, and focus on the interactions of the team.
What other Improv Podcasts are you a fan of and why?
I love the Improv London podcast – Stuart is the most natural host you can imagine and every episode he has done is brilliant. I also love the Griefcast – it’s hosted by Cariad Lloyd and is a really honest look at grief. It’s made me laugh and cry in public before, I can’t recommend it enough.
Who have been some of your favourite guests this year?
I’ve really loved all of them, but I did love getting to record in America and see how things are different over there. In particular recording with the UCB Harold Team ‘Too Damn Much’ was my most ambitious episode yet – as it included six people plus me – but I think it’s just so fun to hear how they bounce off each other!
What are your plans for 2019?
I’m going to be performing at the Edinburgh International Improv Festival and podcasting from there, which is very exciting! I want to just carry on doing the improv I love and spreading the improv word as much as I can. But I’d also like to increase the diversity of guests on the podcast, I hope that’s a development I can make in the new year.
Why do you think people really enjoy Improv Treehouse?
One thing I love about the podcast is the audience questions – I always try and get as many voices in the podcast as I can. They’re always the highlight of the episode, and I think people like to have an input in the episode where they can! I think as well the episodes are really feel-good – hopefully the camaraderie of the teams shines through, there’s often a lot of love in the room!
Tell us all about how 2018 has been for you?
2018 has really taught me a lot about the inherent goodness of the improv community. I had a really tough year in a lot of ways, but the support of people – some of whom you barely know – just astounds me. I had some personal sadness at several points this year, but the absolute love and dedication of the community never ceases to astound me.
I’ve also really enjoyed expanding my improv this year – taking on more teaching, doing more shows, and managing events! In particular it was MissImp’s 20thAnniversary, immediately followed by the Nottingham Comedy Festival, which was exhausting but so worth it!
What has been some of your highlights of the podcast of this year?
So funnily enough I mentioned in my last interview back in March that I’d probably cry if I ever interviewed Josie Lawrence… this year I interviewed her twice! I got to meet so many of my heroes in The Glenda J Collective and The Comedy Store Players, which were recorded a week apart. It was such a privilege to be able to speak to so many of my heroes, and to find out what makes them tick!
What have been some of your favourite improv shows you have seen this year and why?
Ooooh that’s so difficult – I was blown away by the Glenda J Collective, There Will Be Cake and Spontaneous Potter, but I was really surprised by a show I saw at Dad’s Garage in Atlanta. It was Theatresports and I have never understood the idea of competitive improv in the Keith Johnstone way of thinking but WOW. It completely made it make sense to me – it was the most fun and polished show and it changed my improv worldview!
What improv acts do you find inspiring and why?
To be honest, part of the reason I do the podcast is because I’m inspired by all improv acts. I love that we can just get on stage and be silly, and the fact that there are so many people out there who want to do just that really inspires me. That’s why I like having all manner of guest troupes – from the established and famous to the unknown and brand new – because they all have a story that’s worth telling!
Where do you see Improv Treehouse in a years time.
Hopefully we’ll be wrapping up our third season! I’d like to maybe get more adventurous with it – possibly trying some episodes filmed with an audience. But hopefully I can just continue to try and produce something that people want to listen to – if I’m still doing that in a year, I’ll be happy!