Ticket Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/criminal
Hello guys! Tell us about Criminal ?
HELLO! Criminal is an improvised murder mystery show featuring an ever-changing cast of the UK’s funniest improvisers
How did you come up with the name of your show that you’re taking to the fringe?
I don’t think this was exactly rocket science. It’s about finding a criminal, essentially. We called it Criminal. If I said there was much more to it than that I think I could be justifiably be accused of lying.
Tell us all about your show!
With Joel Gatehouse, my co-producer and co-host, I founded the gig in January 2015. Having seen This Is Your Trial, the improvised court case show, in 2014, I wanted to create a similarly anarchic, themed improv night in which – as with Trial – the cast rotated all the time. I am drawn to murder mysteries like Rory Stewart to Afghan opium pipes, so this seemed like a natural premise. Our first show featured Cariad Lloyd, Paul Foxcroft, Joe Morpurgo and David Reed, and went better than we could have imagined. Since then, we have run the show basically every month and hosted performers like John Finnemore, Deborah Frances-White, Josie Lawrence, Rachel Parris, and Marcus Brigstocke.
The idea is this: a murder has been committed. Oh no. Among a lineup of four comedians, three play suspects; each of them has been given a playing card, one of which says ‘guilty’. They show this card to each other and the audience. The detective, who has not seen the cards, must work out who the murderer is by the end of the night. From the audience Joel and I pick suggestions on things like the victim’s occupation and an object found at the scene of the crime. Then we let the chaos unfold.
Since 2018 the show has also become a podcast, recorded live at Kings Place. We have also performed three years running at the Underbelly Festival Southbank and been programmed at the Brighton Fringe and the Birmingham Improv Festival.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
I myself will only be at the Fringe mentally speaking; I won’t be there physically. But guaranteed bangers are Daniel Nils Roberts’ A History of the World in 1 Hour; Tim Fitzhigham and Thom Tuck in Macbeth; and Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Have you done the Fringe before? What are the key pieces of advice you have been given or would give to new groups or people performing at the fringe?
Oh we’ve done the Fringe before all right. I did a full run of a sketch narrative show in 2014, and last year Criminal went up for 7 glorious nights. Apart from not letting reviews get to you, carving out some time to play golf, and hanging out with other performers, I’d advise visiting the blind man who lives at 38 Grassmarket and licking his shoes for luck. It’s not failed me yet.
What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
In Edinburgh? The first This Is Your Trial was pretty formative; The Wrestling in 2011 was incredible, all the more so because when it finished my birthday was just beginning; The Pin’s 2018 show, Backstage, was gorgeous; I remember seeing Paul Merton’s Impro Chums in what must have been about 2003, and falling in love with everything they were doing; and watching The Pajama Men in (probably) 2014 reminded me of the heights to which sketch comedy can soar.
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
This isn’t one of mine, but one of Sally Hodgkiss’ from Criminal at last year’s Fringe. She was playing a sleazy masseuse who was rubbing Deborah Frances-White’s detective character suggestively while being interrogated. As this rubbing continued, Sally started to rub her own nipples as well. The detective, uncomfortable with this, asked, “Have you heard of the MeToo movement?”, to which Sally’s masseuse pointed at her nipples and replied, “Yeah, that’s why I’m doing me too.” It brought the house down, as they say.
What have been some of the most unique and different comedy shows you have seen this year and why?
That’s not an easy one to answer. I saw Richard Soames’ Let’s Make A Movie at the Brighton Fringe – that manages to do brilliant things with technology; then, other than that, none jump out at me for being unique. Apart from…no, nothing else, really.
What would be your top three items every performer must take to the fringe?
Two dildos and Das Kapital.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
A tiny, feral figure, dressed in a black cloak, who unnerved everyone initially but whose incongruously booming laugh was so infectious that it galvanised the entire room in a spirit of care-free mirth.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Here we are on Twitter: https://twitter.com/criminalimprov
Here we are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/criminalimprovcomedy/
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
It good show.