This month I chatted to over 30 female improvisers from all over the UK to celebrate the talent that we have – we also discuss some of the important debates surrounding this topic as well. Today I talk to an improviser that is part of Comedysportz Manchester, Murder Inc Improv and Mischief Managed Improv – Maggie Nolan
Hello Maggie Tell us three random facts about yourself!
Hi! My name is Maggie Nolan I used to travel to school in a limousine with the reg plate: COV 1. I can’t look at veins. I have never seen The Usual Suspects as I once watched the last 5 minutes by accident so its ruined.
How did you get into improv?
I was an actress and sketch comedian and my friend Kate McCabe nagged me to.
What inspired you to start improv?
I had a baby and knew it didn’t involve learning lines.
What troupes are you are a part of?
Murder Inc Improv, Manchester
Mischief Managed Improv, Chester
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
I love short form because you get huge endorphins and I love being silly for children and their families.
I love long form because I enjoy creating a world with my friends.
Who are some Improvisers that you find inspiring and why?
Vanessa Anton – she has a great way with people and can teach and perform anywhere in the world. I wish I could be that accessible.
Jill Bernard – She is funny. Really funny. She’s a great teacher and also really wants to help others do well.
I have read many articles around the debate that it is harder to be a woman in improv – what are your thoughts on this and why?
In the UK I really don’t find this to be the case, 2 of the 3 teams I am in are owned and run by women. As a women I would much rather be an improviser than a stand-up… that world appears terrifying to me!
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?
David Escobedo said:
You are learning how to connect
learning how to trust
learning how to listen
learning how to be vulnerable
ALL IN THE SAME HOUR
This speaks to me a lot.
Do you find that being a female in an improv show that the suggestions you can get are traditional and stereotypical?
I perform either for audiences of families, so suggestions are always clean or we don’t accept them. So that’s never been a problem.
I actually just love playing an innocent with people that want to throw you off my being dirty… if they say Dildo do a scene where dill is an ingredient in your recipe, if they say Trump be a jazz trumpeter and if they say wife, I will make every man in the scene my wife…
How do you feel when you get given these?
I am pretty fine with anything. I have been in their seat, waiting to try and be the funniest person in the audience with a suggestion that will bring the house down. All suggesters want to do is have a moment in the limelight and make us giggle. It’s up to me to deal with that suggestion to the height of my intelligence.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
Big, spontaneous ensemble scenes with Mischief Managed where we create huge monsters.
Being pimped into ridiculous flashback scenes by my team in Murder Inc.
Just being absolutely stupid with Csz to a room of children and their families.
What have been some of the worst and why?
I think the worst is when you perform to a room of people who didn’t choose to watch improv. Like a bar where people have just gone in for a drink and a chat.
I like the support and the cameradery of the improv world and performing to an unwilling audience is hell!
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
Keep it clean, believe in the reality, face the audience.
What are three things you want to focus on this season with your own improv?
Take more classes.
Meet new improvisers.
What is the future of improv?
We need more TV shows. We need to unite and create some viable formats that can get Improv onto Netflix, Amazon… wherever and make it for everyone. I don’t want improv to be a sub-culture forever. It’s too fun!