Meet The Short Form Heroes – INTERVIEW – Trouble Salad

This month we are welcoming in the new year by celebrating the world of short form improv! All this month we are talking to a number of different improv troupes about their favourite games, advice and also debates that have arisen over time around the comedy form. Today we speak to Sheffield based Short Form Troupe – Trouble Salad
trouble salad



Hello tell us about your troupe and three fun facts about it:

Hi, we are currently a core group of nine people; Tom, Andy, Gregg, Dave, Chris, Nicky, Paul, Sean & Dan. We are Sheffield based and focus on short form improv, both more traditional ‘game’ type and other more ‘scene type’.

We aim to be an inclusive group and welcome anyone on a drop-in basis no matter their level of experience. Some of the group got their first ever improv experience in this group and we encourage people at all levels to come and take part with us with no pressure. It’s great to be able to learn from each other.

Two of our members are a father/son duo

One of our members is the current Women’s Senior British bronze medal holder in Target Sprint

One of our members once missed his mark skydiving and landed in between an electric fence and a startled pony.



How did you come up with the name?

Everyone put random words into a pile and pulled out combinations until we found a combination that we liked. Trouble Salad seemed to fit as improv is kind of a mixture or ‘salad’ of performance and there is always that little element of possible trouble!



Why did you choose to be a short form troupe?

It was a form we all enjoyed and something that as new people joined, they could get stuck straight in no matter what level they were at and we can learn together.



What is your Favourite short form game?

Everyone has their own favourites.

New Choice is very popular amongst the group.

Andy loves forwards/backwards

Nicky loves anything silly

We all love the more audience interaction-based things such as ‘Blind Lines’.




Best suggestion to be given?

My Toast Wouldn’t Start – we’d rejected ‘car wouldn’t start’ and ‘toast was burned’ and someone suggested this gem for Nicky & Dave to mime




Worst suggestion to be given?




There is an ongoing debate about Short form improv – a lot of people, especially improvisers are not a fan. Do you think that there is still a place for this sort of comedy and why?

Whilst ever there are performers and an audience for this form it’ll continue. It may change (and should as things evolve) but currently people are still attending and enjoying short form shows.

Short form is very accessible and enjoyable, there really is something for everyone and it is a great place for people to get started.

A lot of performers do multiple types of improv, some members of Trouble Salad also perform long form improv and get different things from each form.




Obviously audiences with non improv backgrounds can relate more to short form but do you think there is going to be a time when these perceptions will change?

Perceptions around long form improv are likely to change as this form grows and changes and more members of the public who aren’t involved in improv become aware of this. Hopefully, this will mean people are willing to try out more forms of, not just improv, but other forms of performance too.

Short form is likely to continue to remain accessible to people from none improv backgrounds as there is so little context required for much of it.




What are some of the important aspects of short form that you believe have a stronger element then long form?

We all agree that both short and long form improv have the potential for all the strong elements however for us as a group we particularly enjoy the pace and variety, the game elements and the audience participation that short form gives us.

Again, we also enjoy applying some of the short form game skills in other settings such as teaching and confidence building.




With short form it is all about the pace, what is your advice when you can see a scene is losing its energy and the audience are not responding?

Exaggerate something about the scene for example an emotion, bring someone on or have someone leave, ensure you are really emphasising the game of the scene.

For dragging guessing games, more and more ridiculous clues.

Don’t be afraid to call the scene if something isn’t working.




Other people argue that short form is hard to create strong characters in a small amount of time – what is your opinion on this?

It can be more challenging to quickly create a three-dimensional character however when thinking about other forms of performance; literature, TV etc you will notice that just the way someone enters, or a couple of lines can set up a thorough character. That is possible in short form when you practice these skills.

It is easy in short form to fall back on stereotypes which is something we work on as a group in rehearsals to be able to flesh out characters and avoid doing this unless its for a purpose in a scene.




Do you think there are ways you can make short form more challenging for the more advanced improviser?

Whilst we all attempt to continue to challenge ourselves, we will play games that help with our specific areas for development etc and we like to challenge ourselves as a group we don’t want to lose the benefits of short form improv which for our group personally is the fun aspect.

There are extreme and competition based short form groups which would be great as a challenge however this is not the area Trouble Salad feel we are best in.




What makes a bad short form scene?

Lack of enjoyment/participation from performers. Lack of energy, narrative or desire.

Going against the basic principles of improv for example, yes anding etc.

Not committing.




What makes a good one?

Performers all in sync, good communication, the enjoyment of performers coming across to the audience.



Are there any games that you don’t enjoy playing and why?

We all have our own particular dislikes mainly related to what we find the most challenging for example some of us struggle with musical games, some with puns so we do try and structure shows so performers enjoy what they are doing.




Do you think Short form works better when the audience is more involved?

Yes! This is one of the things we love about it



If people want to find out more about your group where can they find you on social media?

Trouble Salad on Facebook (not to be confused with the musician of the same name).

@TroubleSalad on Twitter

What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?

We’ve all been given so much great advice because the British improv scene is constantly growing and is a very supportive scene where people share knowledge through teaching courses, sharing great advice on social media and attending jams, but these are some of our key bits:

Don’t try to chase the laughs

Always support your scene partners

Go and watch other groups of all forms of improv; learn from others

Enjoy it!



What is the future of short form improv?

It’ll continue to grow, and different groups will develop new and different niches, for example musical short form. Sheffield currently has a thriving improv scene which encompasses all types of improv with many people doing more than one form.

Short form improv being used outside of performance spaces is likely to grow as a great way of teaching certain skills and confidence building etc.

Quick Fire Questions

Which member of your team is the most likely to:

Laugh mid scene?

Nicky or Gregg



Create a great character?

Sean or Tom



Sing an improvised song?




Pretend to eat on stage?




Become an animal in a scene?




Create the silliest line in a scene?




Dance on stage?




Commit to object work?

Paul or Dan (but only if it’s a wheelbarrow)



Make a reference to a film or tv show?

Andy but no one gets them



Talk to the audience and break the fourth wall?


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