This week in the Improv Diaries i spoke about the podcast Conan Needs A Friend and the most recent episode with Dana Carvey. In that I spoke about his fantastic use of characters and how it can be beneficial to improvisers and I highly recommend you either listen to the podcast or read about it.
For this week’s Improv Corner I wanted to extend talk about that podcast as it spoke about something else that is highly relevant to improv as well – comedy compression.
When people start forming improv troupes and you start to do a lot of shows you want to do as many as possible and look at the bigger groups like Showstoppers and dream for the stars and want to know what it takes to get your group doing all these huge shows and big venues.
This podcast made a really good point that actually, big is not always better. Dana and Conan go on to talk about the fact that everyone always wants the big shows and the big audiences but actually in hindsight the compression of comedy in smaller venues with smaller venues is a hell of a lot better.
In a smaller venue you can connect more with an audience and in hindsight, these venues are usually better as you can feel the ‘laughter bouncing off the walls’ ( a quote from the Podcast). They also go on to say that the laughter feels more electric in a smaller venue.
The good thing about improv venues is that they are a nice space to perform in because they are not that big – sometimes they are too small – but a lot of the time they are a really nice venue.
I absolutely LOVE the London Comedy Store space – I always thought that the venue was huge but it is not it is actually quite small dim lit place and that is fantastic – it makes it a great place to see stand up comedy.
When talking favourite improv performance spaces there are two that stick in my mind – I really love Hoopla Impro space as it is not too big but it is big enough to be creative and do what you can with the stage space.
Another location that I really enjoy for improv was The Cumberland Arms when I lived in Newcastle. It may not be in the greatest location but it is a cosy little pub that has a wonderful atmosphere (you can walk in and there will be a group of people playing the fiddle). The upstairs room space is a very nice and small location that welcomes improvisers with big arms.
I think the idea of comedy compression is a really interesting concept and is something that is definitely work thinking about.