Show Of The Week – INTERVIEW – The Same Faces Presents: Uncle Armando

For this weeks Show Of The Week we are heading to Leicester for a show by the renowned improv troupe The Same Faces. They are well known for their Short Form Comedy but they also dabble in the long form genre and this week they are performing their Armando show at Upstairs at the Western. I sat down with the troupes Director Tom Young to find out all about it.

The Same Faces Presents: Uncle Armando

tom

 

Date: Saturday 14th September

Location: Upstairs At The Western, Leicester

Price: £8 and £6 for concessions

Time: 7:30pm

Ticket Link: http://www.upstairsatthewestern.com/shows/uncle-armando-september-2/


 

Hello  tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!

I’m Tom Young, the person writing these answers on behalf of The Same Faces. The show we’re here to discuss is called “Uncle Armando”, and the other regulars are Dave Gotheridge, Ki Shah, Mark Vigil, Hannah Platts and Pippa Hastings.

Ooh boy, three *unknown* facts?! Errr… Well, this month kicks off a new 10 month season of Uncle Armando, and we’re excited that the show’s regular players are going to be gender balanced for the first time. Secondly, one day, I want to turn Uncle Armando into a TV show. And finally, the logo for the show is a parody of the Uncle Ben’s rice logo, which virtually no-one has noticed, except for our merchandise company, who won’t let us sell it on t-shirts for fear of getting sued.

How did your troupe form?

The Same Faces had been performing our flagship short-form show for about three and half years, when we suddenly lost our regular venue. In the panic of finding somewhere new, I started talking to a pub theatre called Upstairs at the Western, who had just got new owners and were looking for locally produced shows. Then, our original venue reopened, so we didn’t need to move, but UATW were already interested in working with us, so we pitched them a brand new show. That became Uncle Armando, and we’ve been doing it since March 2017. It’s been really good for us, as it’s given regular performance opportunities to many of our strongest members, who had been held back by the limitations of our rotation system for our short-form show.

How did you come up with the name of your show? Was it difficult?

Ha! Not difficult at all. We’re doing a slightly adapted version of an Armando (which we call a “Mandy”), but we knew that to a casual audience member, the term “Armando” doesn’t mean anything. So we decided to make it a character – our collective Uncle – so that the casual viewer would think it was just a daft name, but an improv connoisseur would know what to expect.

How did the show come about?

We’d been working on Armandos and Game of the Scene, on and off in our workshops for about 11 months, so we were well drilled by the time the show started.


How did you get into improv?

Personally, I’ve been obsessed with improv ever since I discovered Whose Line whilst in America in 2004. I then started improvising when I went to university in 2008, and now over a decade later, I’m still going.
I became fascinated with the Armando format after watching Asssscat on YouTube – it’s very difficult to film improv well, but the UCB team did it, and without the fake game show format of Whose Line.

Tell us a little bit about the show that’s happening this week?

So, for those unfamiliar with the Armando, here it is: A word is taken from the audience. A monologist tells a story – preferably true – based upon whatever that word makes them think of. From this monologue, the players produce scenes that are based upon the ideas within it. When done well, it results in an improvised sketch show, that’s usually very funny.
We also have a guest stand up comedian to headline, and serve as our monologist, which adds a fun dynamic; this month it’s Rob Kemp, creator of festival cult hit, The Elvis Dead.

 

 

 

 

It is a new season of improv what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I’ve been loosely involved in programming shows for a mini-improv festival in Leicester in October, so I’m certainly looking forward to seeing those 10 acts come to us!

 

 

 

It is the month of September – what were some of the best shows that you saw at festivals over summer and why?

We had a lovely time at the Camden Fringe, playing against City Impro in their Death Match show. They were victorious this time, but we beat them on our previous visit, so I say that’s 1-1 in the series, and we look forward to the decider.

How do you warm up before a show?

Usually a lot of silly games to get wake up our brains. Zip Zap Boing, Bunny Bunny, Hot Spot, Mind Meld, Three Line Scene… Whatever gets us feeling alive and in tune with each other.

 

 


What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?

This is slightly difficult to answer for an Armando show, as the improvisers are always one step removed from the audience suggestion. Certainly we’ve had some great monologues over the years – the idea of the Welsh Civil War sticks in the mind – you can actually watch the resultant scene from that on our Facebook page. As an audience suggestion, “Crumble” was fun, as it resulted in a mild breakdown for our monologist, Chris Norton Walker, as he tried to remember who invented the Apple Crumble. It was not “Mrs Crumble”, apparently.

 

 

 

If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?

We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, all on @thesamefaces or [NameOfSocialMedia].com/TheSameFaces

 

 

And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?

It’s really good.

QUICK FIRE ROUND

 

What makes you smile?

Silly things that subvert expectation.

What is your biggest strength as an improviser?

Finding a button line to end a scene with.

Dream venue to perform at and why?

Literally anywhere, so long as they keep wanting us. Also, Kilworth House’s open-air theatre in North Kilworth, Leicestershire – my family and I used to go and see a show there every summer during my teens and early twenties, and I’d love to perform there. And I do love playing at Hoopla too, so it’s always nice to be asked back.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Honestly, neither. I find it hard to invest in any creature that lacks the potential to tell me a joke.

What is the most delightful suggestion for a scene you can think of?

Oh, that’s impossible to answer, as it’s all about interpretation. One of the ones I’m proudest of was shouting “she thinks her arms are legs, and her legs are arms” in a game of Taxi Quirks (or whatever it’s called) – it went exactly as daftly as I expected.

If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?

I wouldn’t, but if anything, it’d have to be something built around the phrase “It’s not a cult”, though the irony of being branded with that seems a touch overwhelming…

I did also think about having the braille dots for “Yes And”, as it seemed like a nice, subtle and unique way of doing it. But ultimately, I’m happy with my skin remaining a blank canvas.

Who is your improv hero and why?

I’ve got loads, but I think I’ll have to say Colin Mochrie. He’s just so consistently brilliant, and by all accounts lovely.

What is the last thing you liked on social media?

A video from our recent group photo shoot, which depicts the efforts required to give Dave Gotheridge a sexy windswept look. There was a fan, a countdown, and another improviser literally throwing his hair in the air.

Something on your bucket list?

Own a theatre.

Make a TV show.

Find ways to be happy that aren’t goal oriented.

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