This month we are celebrating the improv Scene in Manchester and today we talk to the improv team Murder Inc. I sat down with Kate McCabe to find out all about them and what mystery they are solving next….
Hello There! Tell us who you are and three random facts about yourself!
Hi, I’m Kate McCabe. I’m from Erie, Pennsylvania which I like because I think it sounds spooky. I have two pairs of nunchakus. I have had a swim in the Amazon river.
How did you get into improv?
I had my first taste of improv when I was at acting school in NYC. I’ve pursued it ever since.
What inspired you to start improv?
I’ve always wanted to pursue comedy. I didn’t know it could be so joyously fun in the creation. So, I kept chasing it.
Tell us all about your improv troupe?
I work with two! ComedySportz Manchester and Murder Inc. I will talk about Murder Inc. today as I believe one of my CSz colleagues is answering CSz questions.
What makes you different to the other improv teams on the scene in the North West?
Murder Inc is different to other offerings in our format, for sure. We run a very bespoke murder mystery comedy. We also do a LOT of audience engagement. They get to choose our backdrop or setting every month on our social media. For example…murder on a pirate ship? Or at IKEA? Or at The Oscars?
What sort of improv do you do?
Murder Inc specializes in long form comedic murder mysteries.
Tell us a bit about all of your regular shows that you normally hold?
We have two monthly shows in Manchester. We also have one in Leeds and are soon debuting a monthly in Sheffield. The wonderful audiences that we get really inform the show. Not only do they vote on the backdrop for the month but on the night they suggest who our characters are. On top of that, there’s a chance they could win a prize if their detective team wins. And finally, there’s a break where we give them free snacks. That doesn’t hurt.
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
I love it all. I’m less au fait with straight up (intentionally) dramatic improv. But I think ANY improv has the potential to be impactful…whether it’s ‘comedy’ or ‘drama’. And it can go anywhere! A comedy can be serious and vice versa.
How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?
Jade Fearnley, our founder came up with it. Named after the famous Capone gang.
What would you like to see happen to improv in the next 10 years?
I’d like to see people value the form as much as they do any other performance art. I think we make inroads every year. Our culture is learning more and more about it thanks to things like the Edinburgh Fest and YouTube…not to mention shows like Middleditch & Schwartz and the famous actors like Tina Fey and Will Ferrell who often talk about how positive their experiences with improv has been.
How do you warm up before a show?
Energy stuff…hive mind exercises…short and basic scenes…cheering each other on.
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
Once I got Robert Cecil as a character suggestion in a show and because my British history isn’t great, I just played him as the biggest flounciest man I could imagine and it was really fun. We also get some location suggestions on the night and it’s a treat when we get something where we can play with the physicality. We’ve had ‘on the lighting rig’ before and ‘up a tree’. Fun.
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why? Care more about your scene partner than you do yourself?
It’s valuable because it gives you something very important to put your energy towards and focus on and you better the show for doing that.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
I have loved the team rushing to become an impromptu jazz band to support a player who’d been endowed as the world’s best jazz ‘scat’ artist. I’ve also loved making Darryl Fishwick, with his deep sexy baritone, play someone with a really squeaky voice…because I’m childish that way.
What have been some of the worst and why?
Any time a joke flops and I explain myself to the audience. Because I’ve failed twice. Once in my judgement to joke bomb the scene and second in my pathetic need to explain my judgement.
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
Be patient with yourself, open to learning, and playful.
What is the best thing about the Manchester Improv scene?
It’s increasing in opportunity and in quality every year.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?
David Sedaris as I love his turn of phrase and his live readings are excellent (not that I’d make him read). Sally Wainwright because I think she’s so damn clever but also so grounded. Nigella Lawson because I fancy her and you KNOW she’d either bring the nicest bottle of wine or a KILLER dessert.
What’s the best piece advice you’ve received?
Take an improv class.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have the best cat in the world, Kitty Sanchez.
If you could be from any other decade (or era), which would it be?
I quite like the idea of a post WW2 version of myself. Full of relief, positivity, and yet not so far back in the past that I’d HAVE to wear a corset.
If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?
A giant back-spanning tableau of one of Britain’s best improv teams, Austentatious.
What’s on your music playlists right now?
I always have a giant shuffle on the go but three artists I’m listening to loads are: Tame Impala, St. Vincent, and Ludwig Goransson’s Madalorian theme.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Nothing to do with resemblance, but I love the plucky charm of Emma Stone. I’m sure she’d be willing to give herself a lesbian haircut for a role.
# If you had one superpower, what would it be? Teleportation would be pretty damn cool. More efficient than flying.