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 Hoopla House Team The Descendants and Swipe Right – Carly Brazier
Hello There! Tell us who you are and three random facts about yourself!
Hi! I am Carly Brazier, I overcame my fear of spiders this year, I’m a bit obsessed with golden retrievers, and I know where Bradley Walsh lives.
How did you get into improv?
I was a fan of stand up and thought I wanted to do that, but then came across the Hoopla beginners course and after my first lesson I knew it was exactly what I’d been looking for.
What inspired you to start improv?
I didn’t have a hobby or interest and really wanted one, so was always on the lookout for interesting things.
What troupes are you are a part of?
I am in Swipe Right, which is a long form group, and The Descendants, which is the Hoopla narrative house team.
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
I love watching groups who clearly know each other really well and have a lot of trust which allows them to have big ideas which they can be sure will always be supported. I feel this a lot when watching The RH Experience, Do Not Adjust Your Stage and Breaking and Entering.
Who are some Improvisers that you find inspiring and why?
Rhiannon Vivian because she gets weird and that appeals to me. I haven’t quite mastered the art of doing it without making myself laugh on stage yet though. Kayleigh Cassidy from Crime Scene Impro is a wonderful coach and performer, she sees the good and joy in everything and that is really infectious. There’s loads of people on the London scene who inspire me a lot.
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?
I haven’t found being in improv hard at all and can’t think of any instances where I’ve been at any sort of disadvantage because I am a woman. I’m aware that I am particularly fortunate in this respect as I know other female identifying people have had difficulties. The Ladies of Improv page on Facebook provides a great place for people to share their experiences and get advice and support.
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?
If you have an impulse, follow it. It almost never serves you wrong. And if it doesn’t go great for whatever reason, your impulses will be more fine tuned for next time.
Do you find that being a female in an improv show that the suggestions you can get are traditional and stereotypical? How do you feel when you get given these?
Both groups I’m in have unique ways of getting suggestions from the audience, meaning there’s little chance of anything coming up that’s stereotypical. There’s lots that can be done with a suggestion, including to subvert expectations. For example if a relationship offered is mother and daughter you can take that wherever you like, they could be Presidents of neighbouring countries or squirrels that live in the forest. I like what I heard once which was suggestions should serve as inspiration but not be an obligation.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
It was really fun hosting and performing at Swipe Right’s Summer Fling in August, and we’ve been getting some great feedback on Descendants shows. One scene that is a bit of a favourite was a flashback to a party car in which the main character’s parents died. Got lots of laughs from the audience but it led to some heartfelt moments too.
What have been some of the worst and why?
One night a number of people couldn’t make it to a show, so we gathered various other people together. We didn’t warm up properly and no one was clear on what format we were doing. Needless to say, it was not a great set! It was definitely a low point on stage for me but it was clear why it happened.
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
Have your own improv journey. Get out of it what you want and don’t feel pressured to learn The Harold or read certain books or go to this festival or do a workshop with that teacher that everyone is raving about if those things are not appealing to you. Just follow what’s fun for you.
What are three things you want to focus on this season with your own improv?
Hmm I don’t think I’ve ever given myself three things to work on. But if I were to choose three now I’d say committing to characters and playing them consistently throughout a show, giving my team mates more regular and specific positive feedback, and doing some activities that aren’t improv, because it is important to do that.
What is the future of improv?
Oooh….hopefully more people discovering it, both as players and audience members.