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 training ground based in Hampshire – Basingstoke Improv!
Hello there tell me all about your group!
Basingstoke Improv is a training ground for new improvisers in Hampshire. We put up five nights of improv comedy each year and take our productions to various events around the UK. We perform improv and clown, including a cappella musicals and dramatic theatre. We use guests in each event, when schedules align, so get in touch to come and play.
What are your favourite things about being in your troupe?
It’s a community of people. The friendships that blossom from improv are beautiful and supportive. It can bring all walks of life into one room and level people to their playful beings. We engage in the joy and in each other. It does not matter who you are nor where you come from, as you are there to bring everyone’s voice to the stage.
Describe each member of the improv acts by describing their characters by what animal they would be?
Basingstoke Improv are dinosaurs. We are all different and varied, but have the common element of being playful, spontaneous and laying eggs. Dinosaurs laid eggs, right!?
What has been your favourite show so far?
The first show is the deepest… it’s that moment when the cast realises they can do it, after all. Fresh-faced and really going for the show. It is always a glorious moment to watch (as I did) these first timers. It is a special moment.
How was your group founded?
Basingstoke Improv was founded by Nathan Improv, as with others of his training grounds. After running some weekly drop in taster sessions, classes were provided to create opportunities for formal development. The literal start date is ambiguous, but our prospects for this spontaneous frivolity and serious personal and professional development (as all of those can be true) began in 2016 (probably).
What is your favourite thing about performing improv?
Chris wrote an article about his experience with improv. https://www.nathanimprov.com/2019/01/guest-blog-why-improv.html
He describes it as magic. The moments of gold, the being on the cusp of discovery. The best thing about performing is being in that flow state, where you are purely enjoying the moment and finding the funny together (if performing a comedy).
What is the most important skill you have learnt and why?
Play characters and have fun, because and as Susan Messing says, “if you’re not having fun, you’re the arsehole.” We create theatre, so we may as well play out the play – whatever style that may be – and act our little socks off in the characters we find ourselves in and discover in the moment.
Describe your group for people who have not seen you live in 5 words beginning with the letter L?
Lustful, blissful, cataclysmic varied theatre.
You can only watch three other improv acts for the rest of your life – who would they be and why?
Three acts… that feels impossible. I could name a tonne more that I would happily watch.
Ranger Danger and the Danger Ranger were a super talented American duo that are hysterically funny and engaged me so much, I want them back.
Easylaughs is a phenomenal Dutch company whose poop would be watchable. They are also super talented, so must be on the list.
Impro ACT is a great Australian organisation that is helmed by the absolute nutjob Nick Byrne. Can easily watch his productions with him in it!
What makes a good improv scene?
Well acted specific characters are all that is needed. An actor may not need to be great at improvising, but an improviser must be good at acting (to some extent this depends on the style of performance). Improv is easy, it’s the form you choose to do that may be difficult. For example, one may be able to improvise a butoh set, but probably after a lot of training on the form.
What has been the best suggestion you have been given by an audience?
Late night kebab
Dream location to perform a show and why?
On a large enough stage with a loving, large enough audience. So, the Royal Albert Hall should suffice.
If people want to find out more about your group where can they go on the socials?
Finally, which improv group would you as a team love to do a collaboration with and why?
Two little dickheads to bring clown and improv into one show, which is being worked on actually. Bring out your clown!