This month we are travelling all the way (well metaphorically) to Amsterdam to learn all about the improv scene there! All months we will be chatting to easylaughs that offer comedy shows, improv and stand up classes and improv workshops, in English. Today we find out more about the improv scene in Amsterdam
Tell us about some unusual suggestions that you have had?
Nicole: We once did a Film Noir where the suggestion for the main male character was “Gynocologist” which, for a format set in the 1940’s, was pretty fun. We had a teenager give us “The Play” as the title suggestion for…. the play. I recently got “the best beatboxer ever” as a quality trait and was like “this is why I shouldn’t be an improviser”
What is the improv scene like in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam has a very lively improv scene. Boom Chicago started here more than 25 years ago but even then there were some smaller expat groups doing improv in English and the Netherlands in general has a lot of local groups doing improvisation (in Dutch). The scene is thriving at the moment, even with the effects of COVID, and it’s fantastic to see so many talented performers finding their own paths.
What are some of the best places to see a show?
You’ve got us at CREA and sometimes Cinetol of course. There’s the stalwart of Boom Chicago. Mezrab put on some occasional nights with a variety of local talent. Tag Out Theatre explore a wide and inclusive range of improv, always pushing new boundaries. Flock Theatre are new in town, and are ones to watch. Then there are all of the smaller groups putting on less regular shows, but are easy enough to find through Facebook etc and that’s not to mention the amount of Dutch performances there are too!
If you wanted to do lessons in improv where would be places you would recommend?
Easylaughs for short-form and stand up comedy. Boom Chicago for The Harold. Mulholland Academy for acting classes.
Do you do shows in English and Dutch?
Just in English. Every so often we do a scene in Dutch, but mostly just to show how terrible our expat Dutch is.
What language do you prefer doing a show in and why?
English, because not all of us are bilingual!
Do you ever do shows where both languages are involved?
Most of our audience is ex-pats so we play in English, but do a scene once in a while in another language, just for fun.
How do you rehearse a format such as your own?
Different formats have different needs. We normally run through a format a few times and find the part that help us and the parts that make it harder. Then remove the bits that make it harder.
We will often find something unexpected in rehearsal and try to find a way to incorporate it into the format.
For shows we have done many times, we will find ways to change or loosen up the format, in order to keep it exciting for us.
What is YOUR favourite easylaughs sets you have ever done and why?
Easylaughs has been going for many years, so there are a lot of good moments. Our Tarantino show has produced a lot of good moments, both here and at festivals. Great moments include a hitman quoting Australian bush poet, Banjo Patterson and a rant about hotels that make you pay for towels. There’s also our Christmas shows where we’ve done a parody of Charles Dickens and some really fun reindeer short form games.
What is the best thing about being in easylaughs?
Playing is a large crew of excellent talented up and coming players and players with literally decades of experience. Also having the privilege of playing every week.
What is the most challenging?
Because we play every week, that means we rehearse every week too. Plus everyone has to pitch in with the more mundane aspects of organising it all.
What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?
Nicole: In a Tarantino I came on as a filthy mouthed drugged up loser and had a lot of fun with that. I’ve also played a delinquent single mother on the lam. I’ve improvised (once) a sonnet in iambic pentameter.
What have been the worst?
Nicole: Did I mention the best beatboxer character? One time I had to be a pop radio station and all I could think of was to sing “All the Single Ladies” over and over again.
Who would be your dream guest to appear at one of your shows and why?
For me it’d be Paul F Tompkins. The sheer joy he puts into everything he does combined with his outstanding character work sees him work so well with so many other performers.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given about improv and why?
“Hey, have you ever thought of trying out improv?” because it made me think “Hey, I should try out improv!”.
With everything that has happened this year will it return in any shape or form?
We have already started back up, while abiding by covid distancing rules.
What are your aims for your troupe for the rest of the year?
Like the rest of the world easylaughs has been through a lot of changes this last year, so we are excited to get back into it and welcome our new players, Steven, Marith and Jenny.
We’ll be doing the short form shows we love, crowd favourites Tarantino and The Play and a new character based show we are working on, that is so fresh it doesn’t even have a name yet.