The year 2020 has been a very unusual one and the fact that a lot of festivals have been postponed this summer we wanted to do things a bit different. Due to the fact we cannot use this time to interview and promote acts heading to the fringe, we thought we would use this time to celebrate all forms of comedy! So over the next month we are interviewing an array of acts with some fun questions so you can get to know them a little bit more! Today we talk to an improv act based in London that like to put on shows that allow the audience choose what route the show should take – Banana Hut Gang!
Hello there tell me all about your group!
Laura – The Banana Hut Gang is a group of good friends who met through Sedos, London’s premiere amateur theatre company. Last year we took our show ‘Choose Your Own…Improv’ to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and managed to sell out every performance. We’re planning to take the show back up to Edinburgh in 2021 when the Fringe is back. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @bananahutgang. www.bananahutgang.com
What are your favourite things about being in your troupe?
James – we gel really well and know what makes each other laugh. We also seen to turn everything into a double entendre
Describe each member of the improv acts by describing their characters by what animal they would be?
Laura – Badger
Sam – Labrador Puppy
Alex – Meerkat
Jonny – Salamander
Chris – Owl
Jess – Squirrel
James – Tortoise
Chloe – Rabbit
What has been your favourite show so far?
Chris – I really enjoyed our second show which was a Horror. When we’ve done this genre previously, we’ve gone quite dark… and scary! Ghosts, axe murderers, that sort of thing. For this horror we found ourselves playing to a much more camp side of the genre – with disco-dancing werewolves and virgin witches!
How was your group founded?
Sam – We were founded by a group of actors who were all part of the same company. As far as I can remember, the main drivers for us doing improv were 1) You didn’t have to wait to be cast in a play and 2) You didn’t have to learn any lines. Both solid reasons. Chris and Alex then started the original drop in group where we learned to play, and it just grew and grew from there. It originally happened pretty organically – we just loved improvising together. And the drop in still exists! Definitely come along.
What is your favourite thing about performing improv?
Sam – I can act like a small child and no one complains.
What is the most important skill you have learnt and why?
Chris – Listening. This is even more important online because you need to be sure and anticipate when you think someone had finished what they’re saying so that you can keep a flow going but not interrupt somene. There’s nothing worse than being an audience member watching a performance where you can’t hear what anyone is saying because they’re all talking over each other. But also – listening I think it the key to keeping things simple and creating a story-line that makes sense – which are two things we’re always striving for.
Describe your group for people who have not seen you live in 5 words beginning with the letter B?
You can only watch three other improv acts for the rest of your life – who would they be and why?
Sam – This is going to be a huge surprise to the rest of the team, but I’ll say… Austentatious. Not only do I think they are amazing, I think what they’ve done for narrative improv, and then the genre as a whole, is brilliant. Selling out West End Theatres? That’s amazing for all of us.
Laura – The new Netflix show Middleditch and Schwartz is fantastic, funny and so clever. I could watch them all day. Also brilliant to have improv on Netflix – this is an exciting time!
James – I love the Bear Pack, their storytelling and physicality is amazing
What makes a good improv scene?
James – being in the moment and going with what is right. If you’re truthful and try to make your scene partner look good, the scene will be great
What has been the best suggestion you have been given by an audience?
Sam – The genre ‘erotic biblical’.
Dream location to perform a show and why?
Chris – I would love to perform in New York at an event with some New York teams. I’m ADDICTED to the UCB cage matches you can watch on YouTube and would love to see Banana Hut Gang get a chance to perform at an event like that – even if our style is very different!
If people want to find out more about your group where can they go on the socials?
Chris – You can find links to all out stuff via our website: http://www.bananahutgang.com. Or our social profiles are all @bananahutgang (FB, Insta, Twitter, YouTube).
Finally, which improv group would you as a team love to do a collaboration with and why?
James – Austentatious (Sam made me say it) We’d love to gatecrash their regency world with our mad show