Alex and I have created a new show: Sex, Lies & Improvisation, an improvised comedy about lying together. We’re touring it this autumn but we can’t do that without a network of awesome improvisers who run great events in their improv communities. I want to celebrate those people with this blog series.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are…The Improv Community Heroes!
Hero Fact File
Name: Eji Osigwe
Location of Hero-ing: Manchester
Community events: ImproQuo’s free weekly jam plus courses and shows
Rachel: How did you get into improvisation?
Eji: I’d been doing stand-up for a number of years and began to fall out of love with it. My commute time outsized my stage time and the resulting income covered neither. I wasn’t ready to stop being funny so I did a search online. I ended up landing on the ComedySportz website, did a few courses with them, joined their “B” team for a bit and then moved on to start ImproQuo.
Rachel: Alex and I have crossed the Pennines a few times for the ImproQuo jam. We loved how welcoming you all are.
Eji: A welcoming front is important for improv to thrive. Once a community becomes cliquey it hinders collaboration both with those within it and those outside of it.
Rachel: Speaking of collaboration, we can’t wait to perform Sex, Lies & Improvisation on Friday 22nd November in Manchester in a double bill with Improv On Demand. They’re one of the troupes that have grown out of the ImproQuo courses. What drives you to do good things for the improv community?
Eji: One thing that made me start ImproQuo was the lack of opportunities outside of stand-up. I wanted to start something that would generate its own resources that we could use to create whatever we wanted without dipping into our rent money. The more that we do to grow the community and give it a reputable name, the more opportunities will come our way.
Rachel: What are the best things about your improv community?
Eji: We’re small and scrappy, enthusiastic and mostly do improv for the sake of improv.
Rachel: Which other improv communities do you love?
Eji: I’m definitely a fan of the British Improv Project and its ethos of bringing people together to forward the craft.
Rachel: What do you love about improvisation?
Eji: It’s an easy way in to learning about devising and performing comedy. Being funny on the fly does require you to understand comedy and why it works. Our day-to-day understanding is more than enough to get us started but there’s tonnes more to discover beyond that.
Short-form in particular is an efficient vehicle for highlighting important comedic devices. Short-form isn’t unlike sketch comedy, in that it’s brisk, focused and relies on working the gimmick.
It’s conducive to encountering the kind of inspiration that escapes you when you’re staring down a pen and paper.
Also improv’s fun.
Rachel: What’s challenging about being an improv community hero?
Eji: Handling spats, disputes and transgressions. They’re crazy rare in our still-young scene but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be handled with care.
Rachel: How can we engage more people in improv?
Eji: One proven way is to put out good quality content that appeals to a decent chunk of the general population. Live shows and video content and podcasts and things. There are other ways, such as good old-fashioned marketing, but they aren’t as sexy.