All great festivals have to have a great host running the show – well at Hoopla Improv Festival this weekend you will be in great company! Monica Gaga is your host for the whole festival and she is ready to have some fun! I caught up her to find out everything she has in store for you this weekend!
Hello Monica! So you are hosting Hoopla fest! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am an improviser, a performer, a workshop facilitator and a host from London. I feel really blessed at the moment because of the awesome opportunities on the improv scene which have been coming my way. Obviously I have the Hoopla UK and Ireland Improv Festival coming up on the 26th and 27th of April, but I’ve also got some workshops coming up including DDG Improv: Play the BAME Game on 5th May, a Women’s Workshop at The Nursery on 26th May, and a Hoopla Improv Beginners Course starting on 4th June.
As the host what do you have in store for the audience?
Well we’ve got 18 amazing acts, so I’m just there to facilitate the fun, to get the audience ready and to make them feel at home. We have two awesome nights of improv from across the UK and Ireland so myself and the Hoopla dream team will be doing all we can to ensure all runs smoothly and we will be ready to improvise if things don’t go to plan.
So let’s find out a little bit about your troupes! Tell us about the groups you are a part of?
I play in Derek’s Mojo, a two prov with my comedy partner Jodyanne FR, and the larger groups Slice of Society, Do The Right Scene (formerly Nu Z Land) and The Hoopla Players. I’m also part of the team who run ‘Duck Duck Goose’, a free weekly improv jam in Brixton.
What acts are you looking forward to?
I’m excited about the whole festival, especially the acts that are from a bit further afield. It’s a great opportunity to see so much talent in one place. I haven’t answered your question, I know, so just come to the festival, find out, and I’ll let you make your own choice.
What have been some of your favourite improv shows you have been a part of to date and why?
I’ve been really lucky that the London scene has so many opportunities to perform, but it’s great when you get to go on the road. It’s amazing go somewhere outside of London and experience the warm improv communities that lie outside of the M25. I’ve had some fantastic times at the Byline Festival, in Edinburgh at both the Fringe Festival and the International Improv Festival, and at some standalone gigs. My most recent gig was a sold out show in Bristol with Slice of Society, which was amazing!
What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given about improv and why?
I suppose my favourite bit of advice is simple: you don’t have to be funny. Once the pressure comes off you can just be. Another great bit of advice is: if this is true, what else is true? I like that, I think it opens so many doors to your imagination and lets you run free.
How are you preparing for a weekend of hosting?
Brushing up on all the acts, enjoying some sun, picking out my outfits and getting some rest in because it’s going to be a fun, but crazy, two nights dedicated to improv!
Which hosts do you find an inspiration and why?
I love the chill of Ed Fargher, the wit of Kemah Bob, the energy of Sean McInerney and the wackiness of Maria Peters and Lauren Shearing.
What things are you looking forward to most at Hoopla Festival?
Meeting all the acts, having two nights dedicated to improv, the awesome audience, the laughs, potentially the tears (the good kind) and the energy of the room. An improv audience has an energy like nothing else – they’re just the epitome of ‘yes and’. I love it.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Check out my Facebook Monica Gaga, or on Instagram or Twitter @msmonicagaga. Watch this space for a website coming soon!
And finally in three words – why should people come and see the festival?
Variety, laughs, community.