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. This morning I talk to an improviser that is a Hoopla Impro Teacher and part of Do The Right Scene, one half of Derek’s MoJo and many more – Monica Gaga
Hello There! Tell us who you are and three random facts about yourself!
I’m Monica Gaga, an improviser, host and facilitator.I have size eight feet, I didn’t have my natural hair out for more than 24 hours between the ages of 11 and 21(don’t worry I have a much better relationship with my hair now) I don’t like the taste of coffee.
How did you get into improv?
The youth theatre I attended when I was younger based a lot of their classes around improv. So thank you Matt Bateman and Adam Goldstein for giving me my first taste of improv.
What inspired you to start improv?
My grandmother forced me to go. I gotta love the force of nature that is my Russian Grandma.
What troupes are you are a part of?
Derek’s MoJo, Do The Right Scene, Tightrope, Slice of Society and, for this season, The Committee.
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
I love improv that makes you feel something and improv that makes you laugh. I have no preference between long- and short-form, I just want to go to a show, be transported elsewhere and invest in the characters.
Who are some Improvisers that you find inspiring and why?
Too many too mention, but here are three for starters (I’ll let you know a few more next time).
The women that bring us The Playground at Hoopla Impro each month – Lauren Shearing and Maria Peters. I didn’t know that I craved that all female space to grow until they offered it to me.
Francesca Rennèe Reid. Just go see her perform and you’ll see why. That woman is so talented she perspires star appeal.
Every new improviser that does their first class, wow you have to love and admire those guts. I know improv is amazing but I’ve experienced it, I love that they dive into the unknown.
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?
It’s hard to be a woman in most sectors of life and improv is no different. At times you have to work harder to be heard, seen and billed, but the tide is turning and people are more aware. The work is not done, but we are waking up and moving in the right direction. Women we need you, join us.
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?
You don’t need to be funny. Once you have that mindset it takes a weight off your shoulders.
I have read in articles that all women improv troupes have the capability to break down stereotypes – do you find this the case and why?
100 times yes. Seeing an all female cast smash it is infectious. It inspires others and paves the way for future players. It shows that yes, women are funny. If they pass the Bechdel Test, even better.
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 those?
If I’ve created a character that doesn’t look like me, and someone denies the reality of it, my heart drops a little. In my mind I am whoever I say I am and it saddens me that some people cannot see past aesthetics.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
Playing with people I don’t really know during jams and making something wonderful together. It feels electric and then after you feel a little closer to another human being. I’m getting all mushy now, but it’s just the way I feel.
What have been some of the worst and why?
When I’ve been too in my head and unkind to myself and my choices. Come on Mo, give yourself a break and just play.
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
‘Yes and’ is a tool for creating something wonderful, not a weapon. Improv is supposed to be fun and should always feel safe. We can be nervous, but feel safe. We can be pushed out of our comfort zone, but feel safe. Also, see as much improv as you can.
What are three things you want to focus on this season with your own improv?
Helping more people fall in love with improv, Attending more workshops, Having fun and making others look good while I do it
What is the future of improv?
Photo credit: London Podcast Festival