This week we are heading to Berwick-Upon-Tweed in the North East for some improv fun with Damp Knight Comedy. The improv make their epic return with their signature brand of insane improvised comedy, paired with some filmed and live sketches, Damp Knight Comedy take some well know improv games, add their own surreal Pythonesque flavour and hit fast-forward for a night of unforgettable, high-octane comedy, entirely inspired by the audience’s suggestions. I caught up with the team to find out all about it.
Damp Knight Comedy: Giraffic Park
Date: Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March
Location: The Maltings, Henrys Travers Studio, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Ticket Link: click here for tickets
Hello tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!
Hi, We are Damp Knight Comedy which is made up of our 3 main members David (Dimples) Simpson, Oliver Payn and Ross Graham, Neil Watson joins when he can (he’s a very busy man) as well as Paul Summers who provides live musical accompaniment and Slink Jadranko who somehow manages to film our madness and edit it into semi-cohesive sketches.
OK, Fact 1 – Paul is Oliver’s uncle and he seems to be hilariously obsessed with horses.
Fact 2 – Oliver and Dimples have the same middle name and their Mum’s have the same first name.
Fact 3 – Dimples, Oliver and Ross have worked together (and still do) in many, many shows outside of Damp Knight Comedy.
How did your troupe form?
TL:DR – We were all in The Maltings Youth Theatre (at some point), Loved it, loved laughing, loved making stuff up and from that we formed our group.
We have all been members of The Maltings Youth Theatre at some point.
Neil was finishing when Ross started and then Oliver and Dimples joined once Ross started assisting in the running of it. Having worked together for so long in performances, Oliver, Dimples and Ross formed a really tight bond and through a love of improvising and devising scenes as well as loving Whose Line is it Anyway (which I think is many peoples first insight into Improv), we decided to try out some of the games we played at a Comedy Club (with Lee Ridley :D) and it went great – much to the surprise of the comedians who had prepared sets.
We recruited Neil and another old friend Mark Vevers (who also had been in The Maltings Youth Theatre) Paul played keyboards and we went into planning. Ross then booked us a performance date in 2015 and we had to put something together.
As of the start of this year, Mark is no longer with us. He’s not dead, other than to us, after moving back to New Zealand with his family.
How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?
I think it was a pretty straight forward process. It’s a strange combination of Knights of the Round Table and Batman the Dark Knight… but damp. We hopped between The Damp Knights, Damp Knight Improv/podcast/sketches wherever applicable but finally settled on Damp Knight Comedy as an overall title.
How did the show come about?
Our local theatre, The Maltings Theatre, in Berwick, try to get us in at least once a year as our shows seem to sell out.
How did you get into improv?
Similar to how our troupe formed… We each love performing and improvising is a great test and challenge to instant creativity.
During our time at the Youth Theatre we played so many games involving Improv and created scenes on the spot, it seemed like second nature to us.
We originally tried to create a sketch comedy group (with a few more people) well before we tried improv but found that lots of personal interests didn’t match. With improv, personal interests don’t play a part, our scenes are given to us and we find it easier to create something on the spot, as we don’t have time to overthink it. After knowing each other for so long, we have a sense of how we all think and trust each other’s sense of humour and judgement.
Tell us a little bit about the show that are happening this week?
The show is called Giraffic Park, each of our show titles has an animal theme in it, just because we find it amusing, it has very little relation to the show except for the “set” and if we add themes, then we ask for suggestions.
We usually try to open the show with a filmed sketch before moving to short form games. These continue in the second act after a similar opening, which is more regularly become a live “written” sketch.
What three things are you looking forward to about performing in this show?
1. Definitely the laughing, us and the audience. That is the thing that makes us the happiest.
2. The Unknown! We love the surprise of what different people want a scene about, you can never guess what they will say.
3. The surprise on peoples faces when we whap out our mad new live sketch 😀
It is the month of March! Spring is just around the corner, what is the way you keep a spring in your step with improv to make it fresh for you?
For us when we rehearse we try to give each other the most outrageous suggestions we can to keep us on our toes. We have no pre-thought personal agendas as to what we are trying to get into our shows so for us every suggestion (in rehearsal or in a show) is fresh.
Also, even when we aren’t rehearsing we are trying to mess with each other or trying to make each other laugh, keeps our spirits up and our wits sharp…it’s that, or we’re just being asses to each other!
It is a new decade – what would you like to see happen to improv in the next 10 years?
Ross: I’ll take this one, I grumble about this a lot.
I would love to see the stigma behind improv vanish. You go to do shows and the other acts or the compere assume it’s some low form of comedy that they look down on, they expect to cringe and they expect it to be crap. At one show the compere introduced us by asking the audience “Hands up who’s heard of improv? Hands up who hates improv? Well here is Damp Knight Comedy…” You have to win them over while still entertaining.
And from improvisers, I’d like to see more… I don’t know, it’s not trust… it’s not bravery (because DAMN we’re all brave)….
What I mean is, I see lots of people who hold back on suggestions or words or actions because they feel they might offend or do the wrong thing. BE FREEEE, take that suggestion that you thought might be wrong, the audience take a sharp intake of breath and you all turn it round to be glorious entertainment, embrace it, find the hilarious light in the dark. The audience are giving you a suggestion of what they want to see, give it to them, with bells on.
How do you warm up before a show?
We have a large novelty sized football that we kick around and try to keep off the ground… we don’t actually know where it came from.
Then we sit down, buzzing with anticipation and play stupid word games like word association, word disassociation, alphabetical lists but all at crazy high speeds.
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
In one game of “Party Quirks” Ross was given the character of Dimples and Dimples was then given Ross. It’s just something we had never even thought of before and it was great.
(DIMPLES) I got a Daddy Long Legs as a staple character in a gangster movie.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are on Facebook – Damp Knight Comedy,
Instagram – Damp Knight Comedy,
Twitter – @TheDampKnights,
And finally, we have podcast too – Damp Knight Comedy (Podbean, ITunes, most podcast apps)
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
QUICK FIRE ROUND
If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?
Ross – (I’d just have dinner with Oli, Dimples and Neil – It’s a great laugh) But from anyone ever – Jim Carrey, Mark Hamill, Terry Pratchett
What’s the best piece advice you’ve received?
Neil – Watch out for the Aliens. Genuinely. More over heard than directed at me. Hear a little old couple say it, they either knew something i didn’t or were extremely racist.
Do you have any pets?
Oliver – No
If you could be from any other decade (or era), which would it be?
Dimples: Roman era I think, as an excuse to finally execute my goat. Or the 1920’s but before the depression.
If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?
Ross: I would let one of the other guys choose it, then its someone else’s suggestion I went along with.
What’s on your music playlists right now?
Neil – The Darkness – Open Fire
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Oliver – Owen Wilson
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Dimples: Bernard’s Watch