Everyone has to do their first improv show as a new troupe at some point and this week we speak to a brand spanking new twoprov team that are performing their first ever set! Fay and Matthew met each other on an improv course in London and this week they are performing a set at the House of Idiots in Brixton on the 23rd January at 8pm.
Hello Battenburg tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
Well, we all are Fay and Matthew, and I’m Matthew. Hello. Our name Battenberg reflects our inimitable style, i.e. pink and yellow squares of sponge cake with marzipan round the outside. If I was to get really philosophical or massively stereotypical I would say pink represents our gay or girly sides and yellow, well it’s more gender neutral isn’t it. Hopefully we confound the symmetrical pink and yellow boxes we’ve created for ourselves.
How did the troupe come about?
Matthew – Fay and I met doing an improv course at the Nursery training centre. It was love at first sight and we’ve since got married, “aaaaww”, though only in an improv sense as she’s more into ladies and I’m more into gentlemen. We would like to confound convention as much as possible – I call Fay my improv husband (I’m still getting used to that one…I was formerly wearing the trousers) while Fay now calls me her improv wife!!
Fay: Its mainly matrimonial bliss, apart from when my ‘wife’ worries I’m cheating on him with other improvisers…
This week is your First show!! How are you feeling?
Matthew: It’s a little nerve wracking. The thing that took me quite a while to get my head around is that in improv everything is made up, and that can be scary. The thing we have to fall back on (and I think I speak for us both) is how much we enjoy playing and performing together.
Fay: Oh my god Matthew! I can’t believe we’re still having the conversation about whether improv is actually made up or not!!!!!!!!! Matthew is such a wonderful improviser and a joy to perform with. He can do the most brilliant scene and then turn round to me and go ‘yes but is it all made up?’ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, yes it is unless you’ve pre written our scenes and hypnotized me so I don’t remember rehearsing them…I mean it’s possible…
Tell us a little bit about the show that are happening this week?
Fay: So this is our first ever show as a duo. Super excited but also nervous. We absolutely love performing together so that’s going to be an absolute joy. Took us a while to settle on a form, we tried loads of things. It got really complicated at one point, ‘so we’ll start with a monologue and then we’ll do a game, then some scenes inspired by that calling back to earlier scenes, then another monologue…’. But then Jules Munns blew our collective improv brain by saying ‘Do you need a form?’…and we were like, ‘er…no?’. So now we don’t have one! Well we kinda do. Essentially we take a suggestion from the audience, do a scene inspired by that and then, at some point, one of us will edit and cut to a new scene inspired by the one before. And on and on ad infinitum / until the audience get bored and start throwing things. We call back to earlier scenes and characters too. Katy Schutte called us ‘delightfully madcap’, which would have been a good name, certainly better than the inappropriate ones we came up with in the pub (which is where we do our best work).
Its a new year do you guys have any resolutions as a troupe?
Matthew: We were going for world domination, but if that doesn’t work out we’ll be happy if some people find us funny and clap at the end. Our resolution is mostly just to get out there and do our thing.
Fay: yeh we’re looking for gigs so please do hit us up guys
What improv styles do you want to see more of this year and why?
Matthew: I know Fay’s mentioned slow improv in a previous interview, and I would concur. I have to say, some of my favourite stuff has been when improvisers are really enjoying themselves on stage and it is just infectious. I loved the Short & Girlie show when I saw them as part of Zeal festival, and to contradict my earlier point about slow-burn, they were very quick, sharp and generally on-point funny.
What festivals are you guys planning on heading to this year?
Fay: We don’t have plans so far but this is definitely something we’d love to do regularly once we get going. Personally I’d love to do some international festivals – always like a cheeky travel.
what advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe themselves?
Matthew: We’re fairly early days so we might have to get back to you on that one…but just go for it, and make sure you’ve got someone (or people) you love spending time with and having fun with as that’s really important.
Fay (melts in puddle): Awwww that’s so sweet! And that’s why you’re my improv wife! Will be buying you flowers from the garage on the way home…But seriously, its really important to really bond with someone, which requires trust. You need to know and trust each other loads off stage so that you can do the same onstage.
What is the best thing about a night at Battenberg for the audience?
Matthew: How full of fun they will feel because, no matter who they are and what they do, let them eat battenberg!
Fay: And there may actually BE cake…
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Sparkling quick wit
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
It was today actually. I inadvertantly ate a joke JellyBelly bean. It was posing as Peach? flavoured but actually tasted of Barf?
If you could trade lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?
I know it sounds pervy, but Matt Bomer, yes Bomer, as he’s so hot so I’d just spend the whole day looking at myself in the mirror (fully clothed of course(-;).
If you could paint anything what would you paint?
Matthew: Fay and I performing together at an incredibly prestigious international comedy festival (fully clothed of course).
Fay: Awwww improv wife! Ok, you’re getting half price chocolates from the garage too!
What is the most delightful word you can think of?
No reference to Matt Bomer – unctuous
‘I should be so lucky’ by French and Saunders as operatic divas.
Who is your comedy hero and why?
I love Steve Martin because he can be wonderfully silly and at the same time quite vulnerable.
What is your favorite movie quote?
You. You cooked her nines. (Steve Martin in The Man with Two Brains)
Who is your favorite cartoon character and why?
It’s probably Asterix the Gaul, just because I loved reading the comics as a kid – he’s a little dude who always gets one over on the big guys.