At the beginning of each year we like to look at improv acts, nights and troupes that are goingto make an impact on the new year. So in the next week we speak to a few teams that are going into 202 to make a bang. Today we talk to a troupe that organise have only been a twoprov for a short amount of time but are already starting to make a name for themselves – Improvoke! I caught up with the twoprov to find out what they have in store for 2020.
Hello girls tell us all about your improv troupe?
Hello! We’re Jen and Hannah (or Hannah and Jen) and our show is called Improvoke – the nation’s foremost mashup of improv and karaoke…! At any point during a scene, one (or both) of us can shout “IMPROVOKE!” which prompts someone to press shuffle on a playlist of 547 karaoke backing tracks, & whatever starts playing we make up a song in that style, as those characters, on the spot. It’s like musical improv roulette, and is both terrifying and awesome…
How did your troupe come about?
We’ve been talking about different twoprov ideas for a while as we really enjoy playing together in Same Faces shows and doing longform together in Tiny Stories. We both love musical improv, but it can be really hard to get a musician! Jen came up with the Improvoke idea a few years ago “as it mashes up two of my favourite things, and once I’d discussed it with Hannah, she was so excited by the idea that we just had to give it a go.”
How did you get into improv?
Jen: I started with Tom Young’s workshops over 6 years ago now. I then started playing with The Same Faces doing shortform on a regular basis. From there I went on to do an organic longform course at the Nursery with the fantastic Jules Munns and then took even more courses with coaches such as Will Luera and Colleen Doyle.
Hannah: I dabbled in improv many years ago but rediscovered it again a bit over 18 months ago when I did Tom’s beginners course in Leicester – which is where I met Jen! Since then the addiction has become real and this year I’ve co-founded Tiny Stories and Splat Improv in Loughborough, as well as Improvoke!
What are your plans improv wise for 2020?
ALL the improv! We really want to take Improvoke on the road, and to hopefully head up north so that Jen’s family and friends can see her perform. We’ve also got our regular Same Faces gigs, and we’re really excited for more Tiny Stories shows, and of course the Leicester Comedy Festival in Feb which will be super busy!
What other improv acts are you looking forward to seeing to this year?
Jen: I really love Stealing the Show, so will always try and catch their shows. I’m a massive fan of Between Us as well and have enjoyed seeing how their show has developed over the last year. Denise’s 50th are really excellent to watch as are Mind Meld and I can’t wait to see what Long Boi and The Noise come up with this year. There are probably loads more as well
Hannah: So many!! There are loads of great groups under the MissImp banner in Notts that are always a treat to watch; I love Stealing the Show; I really want to see some musical groups like Track 96; and there is so much great improv happening in Sheffield right now, we’re really spoilt for choice!
What styles do you hope to see more of in improv this year?
Jen: I am really interested in seeing some new formats. I love the posts that David Escobedo has made outlining some new formats such as “The Likeable” so I’m really hoping to see lots more troupes form, particularly in the Midlands, playing with new formats and shows. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the Midlands at the moment, especially among the brilliant female improvisers we have up here. I also want to see more diversity within troupes and people taking risks!
Hannah: Everything that Jen said! Plus I really want to see some awesome musical improv, and we both really love organic improv so it’d be great to see more of that.
Do you have any new years resolutions? If so what are they?
Jen : Just to keep finding joy in everything I do and hopefully bring it to others as well.
Hannah: I started a new tradition last year where instead of resolutions I make a list of 3 things I’m grateful for from the past year, and 3 things I’m hopeful for. This year I’m looking forward to plenty of workshops to hone my improv!
Are you on social media? If so how can people find out more about your troupe?
Yes we are! You can find us at:
And find Jen as @jenstrikecomedy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Three words why people should come and see you this year?
Twoprov + Karaoke = Joy
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Jen : Fugu – Japanese blowfish – I survived but didn’t know the toxins can stay in you and kill you the next day !
Hannah: Crocodile! It’s horrible!
If you could trade lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?
Jen: Ooh gawd that is hard …
Hannah: That person who owns like 30 St Bernards and they run around the forests in Canada together…
If you could paint anything what would you paint?
Jen: Mount Fuji – so I could go back to Japan
Hannah: The Moon
What is the most delightful word you can think of?
Jen : Genki ( its Japanese for having energy or pep )
Jen : Summer Babe by Pavement
Hannah: Spotify tells me it’s Under Pressure, and it’s hard to disagree
Who is your comedy hero and why?
Jen : Josie Lawrence in Improv – she paved the way.
Hannah: I love Rachel Parris because she’s hilarious, intelligent & from Leicester (represent)!
What is your favourite movie quote?
Jen :Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.
The Cat Returns 2002
Hannah: “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake”
Who is your favourite cartoon character and why?
Jen : Princess from Battle of the Planets , because I always wanted to be her when I was a kid ( actually dressed up as her for my friend’s 40th Bbrthday party )
Hannah: Noggin the Nog, because Oliver Postgate’s voice + weird myths = exactly my jam
Photo Credit : Richard Minkley