Welcome to a brand new feature – every fortnight I am going to sit down with a different improviser and talk about just who some of their favourite improvisers are. I have asked each of them to only mention five but hey you can’t always do that. So, to start off this feature, I am going to start with my own.
1) Suki Webster – It doesn’t matter how many times that I see Suki Webster perform, it is such a treat every time. Suki is such a fantastic character improviser and I adore watching the way that she approaches the stage and really find her so inspiring. The wonderful thing about Suki is that she is also a wonderful person away from the stage as well – she is so clever and highly intelligent and I have been coached by her a couple of times and adored it every time. I always learn something new when I see her perform and it encourages me to be a better improviser.
2) Matt Grant – I have been watching The Noise Next Door since 2013 and since then have been a huge fan of the troupe and one of my favourite players has been Matt because there are very few improvisers who can do the amount of physicality that he does in a scene. He always brings characters to life in such a unique way that it is fantastic to see everytime you see it. When he announced he was leaving the troupe a few years ago I was sad as I thought that I would never be able to see him perform improv again and yet this year I was able to as he returned to the troupe. As always, I spent the whole time just watching him perform and yet again was completely inspired.
3) Bev Fox and Ian McLauhglin – There is no way that you can separate the two because they will always be a couple that come in a pair. Bev and Ian do so much for the Newcastle Improv community and alongside that they are also such talented improvisers. They are great teachers and really are a hilarious duo – I love watching shows when they are both in it as it will as they really bounce off one another.
4) James Witt – I hardly see James and have hardly been taught by him but he is one of my favourite improvisers. He is such a talented individual and he was part of one of my all time fave improv shows Newsical and his improvised songs were always so perfect. I have been taught maybe one time with James and it was about music and the one or two hours I was in the room with him I learnt so much stuff I never knew. James really is an inspiration and I always can’t wait to see him perform when I do.
5) Ryan Styles – He is one of the main reasons that I fell in love with improv and he is such am amazing improviser I never get bored of watching re-runs of him being Ryan Styles. There is no improviser like him and there never will be.
Special shout outs
I just wanted to do shout outs to people that I couldn’t add to my list that inspire me:
+ Firstly a shout out goes to all Punderstandably – James, Jake, Yiannis, Amanda, Sonja and Becky – I adore watching them perform with their high energy and creativity. They are such a fun bunch to be around and inspire me every day to come up with more crazy things we can do. I love how as a team we are pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be and always trying new things even if they fail on stage – we still take that risk. Also they make me laugh so much every week and can’t really sum up how awesome they are.
+ Second shout out goes to some of the most talented women improvisers I have had the pleasure of doing shows with this year – Sarah Davies, Jen Kenny, Trynity Silk, Kate Bishop – each and every one of these ladies I have learnt so much from and they have all taught me something different.
Sarah is such an intellectual improviser that every show that I have done with her I adore her wit and humour and how clever it is. There was one show I was in where we were both endowed with historical figures and I hated it and found it so hard but then Sarah was a pro and just knew how to own it.
Jen – Right from the start when I was nervous about doing a festival show Jen was super supportive, she is also such a bubbly person that you can have some really interesting conversations with her off stage as well. On stage she is this huge energy that molds into characters and commits, she makes herself known and really pays attention to important information.
Trynity – The great thing about Trynity is her positive energy as an improviser – she just oozes smiles and happiness and is a bundle of joy on stage. Whatever is happening you can always guarantee her look of admiration for improv always shines through.
Kate – If there is one thing that I have learnt from Kate it is how to present a show as she really is the queen of it. I have spent the year watching her as a nervous can of worms before a show then shine in the limelight in any show she does she is so confident on stage and has really done wonders to welcome audience members in.
+ Third shout out goes to two improvisers I don’t get to see perform very often but everytime I do I have a smile on my face because their character work is on point. They always make me laugh at their strong commitments and they way they approach a scene – they are not in a troupe together but for character work Michael Kunze and Fay Downie rock.
+ The final shout out goes to some of the really talented men I have had the pleasure of performing with this year – Paul Little, Dougie Boyall and Jimmy Ginger, Boyd Branch
Dougie – He may be only in his early twenties but he is someone that is so good at improv – the best thing about Dougie is his commitment to a character – he doesn’t just give it the minimal he takes an endowment in an scene and really pushes them as far as he can. So many shows this year I have tried so hard not to burst out laughing on stage due to something that he has said.
Paul – I only really knew Paul through one Camden Fringe show in 2018 and in the past year I have had the privilege to perform with him a lot and in that time he is climbing up the ranks as one of my favourite improvisers. I find it really interesting both performing and watching Paul perform because you never know the curve ball he is going to put in a scene. A lot of the time he comes across quite calm and chilled then all of a sudden he will come out with the most random and wittiest thing it will completely crack you up. Also Paul is not afraid to use the stage and object work and that is a great thing to watch and observe as it really is fun to see what happens next.
Jimmy – Jimmy is one of my favourite improvisers because when he is such a physical one and that is something I adore to both watch and also be a part of. He utilises all the stage and really commits to the crazy, when he is given a suggestion he really goes all out. I adore doing scenes with Jimmy because this is the sort of improv I really enjoy doing, I really like trying to create characters and using as much of the stage as I can and when I am in a scene with someone who will heighten the movement around the stage I will mirror this energy.
Boyd – I only improvised with Boyd in only a few shows but he again is a very talented improviser. In a character based role he really commits to an improvised role and makes it his own, he is happy to explore the crazy when he is offered it as well as keeping it normal. I have also seen him perform with Improbotics and even thrown into serious situations he is very switched on, he is also very forward thinking and the stuff he is trying to achieve with improv and technology is fascinating.
I know that I was only meant to mention five, but be warned this is going to a regular occurence with others – so expect shout outs from all! That’s the problem with improv – you meet so many great people.
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