Improv Diaries – Abandoman, Silent Film Improv and Shows [Case study: Jonathan Pitts]

This week was a really busy one in the world of improv – on Saturday it started with rehearsals for this weeks show – three hours of practising games, hosting and everything else in between. After rehearsals Jake and I headed over to Underbelly on South Bank to see improvised rapper Abandoman.

abandI haven’t seen him perform in about 4 years or maybe a tad more and in that time his show has developed so much which is way more tech based, so it was great to see what he is now doing and how he is achieving comedy in a music environment. It was very fun.

On the Sunday morning I went along to The Nursery to take part in a course by Second City teacher Jonathan Pitts which focussed on silent film. I am huge silent film nut, so doing a course on how to incorporate it into an improv environment was very exciting.

The whole concept and basis of silent movie improv is that every action is ten times bigger then the normal improv. It is all about facial expressions, heightened movement and lots of action. Part of the stage was blocked off so that we used the stage like a silent film. and really utilised our space and made sure we used it all.

Jonathan directed us from the side telling us where and when we need to go bigger to do this. We did this by starting a normal scene as a solo improviser and then we reacted the scene although this time he was telling us where to go bigger with the actions, what problems are starting to happen in the scenario because if you watch them, they always have the little things go wrong.

After doing solo scenes we then went on to do scenes in pairs and then redid them again but this time to music. I really enjoyed the session as I learnt a lot about physical improv and really want to pursue this style of improv further in the future. It is flipping knackering but so worth it.

In the afternoon I went to rehearsals with City Impro to go over Guildford Fringe and to decide how we can improve the show for Camden Fringe. We played a few  of the games and we did some promo content which was good fun!


On Tuesday night we had our Punder The Sea show at Hoopla Impro at the Miller. The show this week was hosted by Jake and Yiannis as the persona of the Bob’s. It was a good show but it was not our best. Some of the games went down really well and some of them bombed – but that is the price you have to take when you are testing out content with different audiences – every audience will react differently. We all walked away a tad deflated but at the end of the day you can’t always have a great show. The hosts had a super difficult job of hosting entirely in character and that is really difficult for the most advanced improviser so I think they personally did a really good job. It was a learning curve this show but that means that the only way is up.

Case Study – Jonathan Pitts

jonathan pitts

Photo Credit: Jonathan Pitts

I think this week there was only one person that I wanted to use as a case study and that was Jonathan Pitts. It was so interesting being taught by someone from Second City as they are from one of the most prestigious improv schools in the world. We started off by listening to Jonathan telling us about the Silent Film show that they put on in 2010 in Chicago and it was really interesting to hear how they did it.

I have seen the silent film improv show SHHHH at the Edinburhg Fringe and I loved it but it was very high tech. Listening to how to put on a show that isn’t high tech was really interesting and also gave a different perspective to how it could be possible to do in a Punders environment.

Being taught by Jonathan was really interesting and I really did learn so much even though I wanted to do so much more, however I do understand it a lot more now. I have become addicted to the style and my aim now, thanks to Jonathan is to come up with a plan as to what to do next with it. I have decided I want to do a course in clowning and really get my physical abilities up and improved.

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