I’m taking Between Us to Edinburgh Fringe for the first time this year, so I wanted to hear from other seasoned improvisers about their Edinburgh experiences. I caught up with James Carmichael from Improv On Demand, a cast of Manchester-based ImproQuo.
Rachel: Alex and I have enjoyed building transpennine love with ImproQuo. Tell us about Improv On Demand.
James: It’s short-form improv games, but all the games are based on well-known TV shows, so Sesame Street is The Alphabet Game, Blue Peter is Blind Lines.
Rachel: That’s a great idea! Tell us how one of the games works.
James: We do a game based on The Apprentice, where the performers are given silly previous professions and try to get Alan Sugar to hire them. In one show last year, I was a former magician and I performed tricks throughout to make us win Alan’s task. We had £100 million, but for my final trick, I made it all vanish. The look on everyone’s faces was so good! It was like it was happening for real. The audience couldn’t stop laughing.
Rachel: You’re doing a full run this year after doing a week last year. How will you keep the show fresh every day?
James: We have 20 games, of which we only play 8 or 9 per show. Plus we have a cast of 15, but again rotate so there’s only 7 in each show and we make sure people are playing different games. I’ve done a day-by-day roster. Organised, but a bit sad!
Rachel: I love a spreadsheet! Have you got any goals this year?
James: Take lessons from our first full run. Sure, we’ll make mistakes, so our goal is to keep learning and remember to enjoy ourselves. And I’m aiming to see more improv, because that’s part of how you improve.
Rachel: Is there anything you’re not looking forward to?
James: Leaving and going back to reality! There needs to be more counselling for performers when they finish a run. Seriously, people’s mental health is genuinely affected when it ends.
Rachel: I totally agree! What do you particularly love about Edinburgh?
James: Flyering! No one says that, but we love it. Nowhere else are people up for banter with people giving out bits of paper. We treated it like a warm-up, coming up with new ways to get people to take a flyer. If people can’t get to our show, they should still pass the venue to watch our flyering. It really is that good!
Rachel: And where can we see the awesome flyering? (And awesome show?)
James: Improv On Demand is at Brewdog every day at 14:35 as part of PBH Free Fringe.