Welcome to a new fortnightly article where we speak to different improvisers about their five top improvisers and why. Of course, there are many people that do improv that are fantastic that it may actually be a bit mean to just limit it to only five people but I wanted to create this article so that you can be introduced to players you may not of heard or maybe find out how some of the best known improvisers are inspiring others. Today, I sit down with the founder of the Improv Treehouse Podcast who is also a huge part of the improv community in Nottingham – Emily Brady
Choosing only five people as improv inspirations is an impossible task! There are people ranging from mega famous movie stars to people in dingy pub theatres whose name I never knew that all inspired me to think “wow, maybe improv is something special.” But after raking my brain for a day or two, this is my top five inspirational improvisers.
Monica is an incredible host, performer, and an absolute ray of sunshine every time I’ve seen her – onstage and off. I first met her when we were both put in the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival’s ensemble team and if you ever get to perform with her, she’s just the most fun and inventive teammate you could wish for. I especially admire her hosting style and how effortlessly she controls the room. She performed with Derek’s Mojo (shout out to the lovely Jodyanne as well!) in Nottingham recently with Improv Bingo and it was an absolute joy from start to finish. She’s one of those people who is just effortlessly funny and talented and wonderful!
Where to see her: Derek’s Mojo and Hoopla!
Mara Joy Craig
The first time I saw Mara perform was on-stage with the (also wonderful) Lloydie during a Me Plus One show in Nottingham, and I was blown away by her incredible style. I can still remember that show – it was on a cruise ship, and Mara was at once so funny and so likeable and so heart-breaking that I was entranced. I was lucky enough to get to perform with her myself last year at the Fringe, and I have never felt so looked after and supported in a show. We spent twenty minutes on a date staring at a shark which was suspended from the ceiling. Mara is an absolute testament to what the UK improv community can be at its best – supportive, kind, and generous.
Where to see her: Spontaneous Potter and Spontaneous Sherlock!
I realised recently that Cariad Lloyd has had a massive impact on my improv journey in an almost conspiracy-like way. My first ever Fringe was my first year at university, and I was so nervous and self-critical that I wasn’t really sure I wanted to carry on doing improv. Then I saw not just Austentatious but also Cariad and Paul (with the amazing Paul Foxcroft) and realised that this was what improv could be: it could be heartfelt and sincere and wonderful. Also, when I was starting my Improv Treehouse podcast and wondering if anyone would waste their time appearing on it, it was Cariad who set me up to record with Austentatious which was undoubtedly the main reason for any success I’ve had. For being an inspirational performer and helping nobodies like me start stuff, I find Cariad Lloyd beyond inspirational!
Where to see her: Austentatious and also her wonderful podcast Griefcast!
Yeah this is a cheat BUT Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts are a huge inspiration to me. Their show is one of the best ones I have ever seen, they are two of the best teachers I’ve ever had – seriously their Dummy Intensive Workshop was the best £80 I’ve ever spent – and they were incredibly generous with their time when podcasting with me. But a key reason I personally find them so inspirational is because of how they sustain their relationship alongside their improv. Not only are they some of the most incredible improvisers on the planet, but they do it whilst being a couple! It makes me think maybe retaining a work/life balance in improv is possible!
Where to see them: Dummy in LA!
Jason is the organiser of the Edinburgh International Improv Festival, and I find him an absolute inspiration. The main reason is simple: Jason spotted that there was no improv festival in Edinburgh, thought “that’s weird,” and then did something about it! So often in improv you think “oh that’s a good idea” or “someone should do that,” before forgetting about it. Jason actually rolled up his sleeves, put in a load of work, and did it! The festival was amazing, and it was all a testament to his hard work. He didn’t even get to enjoy a lot of it himself because he was too busy running around sorting out the logistics! I think it was something that hugely benefitted the UK improv scene, and Jason is a huge inspiration for me extolling the virtues of hard work and doing the thing!
Where to see him: Improv Cagematch and Couch!
I also want to make some honourable mentions: Stuart Moses whose Improv London podcast is amazing and he was very supportive in the set up of my own podcast! David Escobedo whose Improv Boost and general positivity is an incredible presence in the UK improv community! And finally I want to do a shout out to the people who regularly organise stuff in the Nottingham community, who make our city so exciting, including Nick Tyler, Liam Webber, Marilyn Bird, Ben MacPherson, (MissImp) Lloydie James Lloyd, Sam Plummer (Rhymes Against Humanity), and Johanna Sharland (NICE)!
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