When you start an improv troupe you never really know how long you are going to be together – well over in Reading, Mad Monkey Improv have reached the atonishing age of six years old! This week help them celebrate in style and come along to their show at Brewdog this Friday. I caught up with Alex to find out all about it.
Mad Monkey Improv: 6 Year Anniversary Show
Date: Friday 4th October
Location: Brewdog in Reading
Price: Pay What You Want
Hello Alex! Tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!
We are Mad Monkey Improv. Core members of the troupe are currently Alexander McWilliam, Ollie Kyte, Sam Rogers, John Duke, and Seamus Allen.
One is a vegan, one once tried to high five a blind child, and one is a blackbelt in Taekwondo
How did your troupe form?
I had always loved improv and there was nothing happening in Berkshire, so I approached a local arts venue (South Hill Park) and proposed a trial night. We held some auditions to look for local performers who were interested in playing. Indeed Ollie was part of that first troupe along with a few other improvisers we’ve worked with over the years.
How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?
I was working on a project with another acting friend, and they brainstormed loads of names together, but Mad Monkey Improv was the one that stood out straight from the start.
How did the show come about?
I’ve always loved short form improv (who’s line is it anyway? – I grew up watching that show!) And really wanted to put one that style of show. I hadn’t really experienced any long form improv at that point either, so short form seemed like the best start. After watching countless episodes and reading online I found the games that we could play in our first show. Since then we have developed some of our own short form games to go alongside some of the classics!
How did you get into improv?
I’m a trained actor, I had done some improv at college but not that much. I then went to see Seamus Allen (one of the best improv teachers around) and he agreed to help me and coach me with my troupe. I started taking his regular classes in Reading + some additional ones.
Tell us a little bit about the show that are happening this week?
So on Friday 4th October we will be celebrating 6 years of Mad Monkey Improv! (How the time flies!) We will be bringing back as many improvisers as possible from all the years of Mad Monkey Improv for an ultimate show filled with all your favourite short form improv games.
It is a new season of improv what are you most looking forward to seeing?
I’m looking forward to seeing more improv in London. So if anyone has any recommendations I am looking to broaden my horizons and check out some new shows!
How do you warm up before a show?
We play a few group exercises to get our focus for the evening’s performance, then we will play a few rounds of Freeze before saying to each other ‘You’re a genius and I have your back!’
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
This is a hard one. We’ve had so many. My favourite one, and one that will stick with my for a very long time is when I asked an audience member for a prop that we could use in the scene a woman gave us her prosthetic leg! I was not expecting that. Hands down it has to be the best one we’ve ever had.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are on:
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Mousetraps, Barefoot, Blindfolded
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What makes your smile?
Seeing people become more confident in themselves and their abilities
What is your biggest strength as an improviser?
Dream venue to perform at and why?
Royal Albert Hall. I performed there as a kid and would love to perform there again as an adult.
Are you a dog or cat person?
Dog all the way!
What is the most delightful suggestion for a scene you can think of?
An obscure (but detailed) relationship or situation for 2 people that was way more detailed than you asked for. Love how enthusiastic audience members can get with some of their suggestions.
If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?
Two people having each other’s back. There are going to be times when you are not sure what to do, so having someone there who’s got your back means you’re not alone and you can work it out together.
Who is your improv hero and why?
Ryan Stiles. He’s another tall improviser! And I love his physical comedy and character work.
What is the last thing you liked on social media?
A photo of my friend’s newborn baby.
Something on your bucket list
To see the Northern Lights and Skydive!