Meet The Short Form Heroes – INTERVIEW – The Discount Comedy Checkout

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 Leeds based Short Form Troupe – The Discount Comedy Checkout
dscount comedy

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


We are Leeds based “The Discount Comedy Checkout”

We’ve been running for 12 years

We started as a Stand Up / Improv night and gradually moved to just improv!

Only two original members are still in the group from the beginning

How did you come up with the name?

I wanted to give the idea of a mixed bag of comedy – so thought along the lines of a supermarket checkout – i wanted to pick a name where people would go “what the hell is that?”




Why did you chose to be a short form troupe?


Because I think it’s better for an audience’s enjoyment of the shows. I always go by the rule it has to be enjoyable for an audience. Not that we shun away from long form – we do long form shows too but prefer quick short form as we can cover a lot of topics in one show for the audience.




What is your Favourite short form game?


Film and theatre styles is my favourite.



Best suggestion to be given?


Any film related stuff – love movies!

Worst suggestion to be given?


Anything about the Holocaust… believe me we’ve had them! In Edinburgh we did get Madeline McCann the Musical once too.

What is the future of short form improv?


It’s going to be just fine! Audience members have never left a short form show and said – hmm I wish they had stuck to one idea all the way through



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?

I would suggest that the debate is ONLY going on between improvisers. There is a certain arrogance towards short form on the circuit from long form groups, which I find very strange from people who by the very definition of what they do are meant to be team players and say “Yes, and…” There is absolutely no reason that short form shows don’t have a place and the one reference people always know is “Whose Line Is It Anyway” – a short form show.




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?

I think it’s always important to ask who you are performing for and what they enjoy. I still think it’s only improvisers who get hung up on these types of things. If an audience is grabbed at the start it shouldn’t matter if it’s a short form or long form show really.



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


I think it’s all about the snappy scenes. Sometimes long form can drag on if a suggestion is given that a group don’t get involved in properly.



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?

End the game and don’t leave your performers hanging trying to get a big laugh. That can be worse than admitting defeat and getting your host to make a quick gag about it.



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

I think it’s all down to the performers and their ability and experience. You should be able to establish who you are, where you are etc very quickly. Also it can be great to have a bit of mystery for the audience where they have to work out what that thing is you are vaguely referencing.



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


Always. Mix the games up and throw in elements that make it difficult. However make sure it’s entertaining for your audience and they are in on the joke. I’d rather watch a slick forward ABCs than a backwards one where the performer can’t remember the next letter.




What makes a bad short form scene?


One where the performers mug to the audience, talk over other performers and shoehorn characters in.



What makes a good one?


A solid team who listen to each other, give each other breathing space and get the audience to go along for the ride!



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

I’m not a fan of walk forward games “world’s worst” etc. I think once you’ve heard most of the audiences suggestions it’s just repeating show after show. It also goes against the group nature.



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


I think it depends on the audience and where the gig is. If your host sets up the rules of the night then it should be fine to involve them more. Games with or without an audience work fine but we usually judge the room at the start with our host, see if they are a quiet crowd or very interactive.



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


Facebook Page – The Discount Comedy Checkout

Instagram @comedycheckout

Twitter @comedycheckout




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

Listen! That’s by far the most important one. It unlocks everything you are doing. I see so many performers who are in it for themselves and not the group and just railroad over every set up and idea without listening.

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