All this month we are celebrating the improv troupe Comediasians. There is fifteen members of the team (and ever increasing) so we thought it was the perfect time to sit down with the troupe and find out all about them and the shows they have been performing and what they have in store for the future. This week we talk scenes, shows and rehearsals…
Tell us about some unusual suggestions that you have had?
Nikita: How long was your last relationship?
Kelsey: Town Name: Bullwinkle, Population: 2.25.
Juwel: I wrote a parody song about wanting better audience suggestions, after having received “peanut” for the third time. (Not with Comediasians, I should say)
How do you rehearse a format such as your own?
Kelsey: We’ve performed a couple of different formats for different kinds of shows. We’re really lucky in that a lot of the members of the group have a lot of training from different schools locally and internationally. With a strong foundation and common vocabulary we’ve been able to move quickly into different kinds of formats as the situation needs pretty quickly.
Juwel: We practice a lot.
What is YOUR favourite Comediasians sets you have done this year and why?
Kelsey: I will always have a fond spot in my heart for the one where I was Jay Z and Stephen was Taylor Swift…
Nikita: They were getting married! and I had the qualifications to marry them.
Juwel: Hm, I’ve not been at many of ours this year actually! Uh, our show on the Hoopla livestream in April, since Yiannis’ portrayal of Mr Domino was such stupid fun.
What is the best thing about being in Comediasians?
Kelsey: All the amazing improvisers and wider community of comedians and musicians.
Nikita: The support, we all have each others back.
Kerrica: The support. I’m duper new here but the support has been super since day 1 of joining. And I think trust is the ultimate spice for improv. It’s like sea salt. Or the sun?
Yiannis: That we can bring our true selves to the scenes and not hold back out of fear of cultural references not being understood by the other members of the group.
Juwel: Our bitchy WhatsApp group chat.
What is the most challenging?
Kelsey: Getting Twitch stream to work from Zoom during an 1.5 hr. tech rehearsal
Nikita: Keeping up with all the whatsapp messages!
Yiannis: Learning Bruce’s definition of irony
Juwel: Honestly it’s that we’re doing so much that it’s hard to keep up! One afternoon away from our WhatsApp chat and you might miss a whole show being accepted and cast in its entirety! This is a great problem to have and we’re grateful to everyone that lends us their faith and invites us to play on their stage.
You started the year with a regular show in London – tell us about that?
Bruce: that was a long term plan in the making, there’s no regular night highlighting Asian performers – of any kind!
Juwel: We intersperse the improv with stand-ups and other Asian performers. It’s a buffet.
Is there any plans for it to return?
Bruce: For sure, if we’ve learnt anything over the hot mess that is 2020 – society needs diversity.
Juwel: The first one was so fulfilling for us and the audience alike. It would be tragic not to.
What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?
Juwel: Being a group of teachers at an orphanage who were upset that our pupils didn’t like us.
Bruce: Lisa was playing someone who likes cooking rotten meat, Sean’s character cried so hard dogs came to him and died – 3rd beat was interesting….
Who would be your dream guest to appear at one of your shows and why?
Yiannis: Hasan Minhaj or Aparna Nancherla because their monologues would be incredible!
Juwel: I would LOVE to experience Kulvinder GhiPmr (of Goodness Gracious Me) as an improviser.
Bruce: Joel Kim Booster or Patti Harrison – PLEASE!!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given about improv and why?
Kelsey: “Hurry up and lose.” It’s great to have character integrity and a POV, but sometimes to build a scene together, someone needs to cede ground for the scene to fly. This has really helped me in working collaboratively with scene partners and group scenes.
Nikita: ‘You will never be ready, you just have to go up there’. Actually I think this advice is my own! I still need it sometimes…
Juwel: Things along the lines of “be average” and “your good is good enough”. If you’re a perfectionist you can get stuck with all the options you have and the desire to make the right choice, and you might make no choice at all. I got a lot better as a player when I got lazier, when I let go of the need to be excellent and just trusted that it was in my bones by now.