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 have two parts of our final interview with the team. This morning we are starting with how the team rehearse for a show.
Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show?
We have a number of tried and tested formats, so for those it we just cover things in rehearsals that we think should be worked on, but for something new we do try it out in a number of ways in rehearsals before taking it to the stage. You want to be sure that the format brings the best out of everyone and you know as a group what’s working and what’s not, so there’s usually little argument with the scheduling.
When you first start performing shows, what is your key advice to new troupes to finding the stage time and getting key slots?
Do your own thing! If you’ve got a group and you’re trying to work out a situation where you can put on your own show, take the initiative and run something yourself. There are plenty of venues suitable for this sort of thing, so if you’ve put in the training and rehearsal, why not show it off to the world on your own terms?
Do you have any pre-show rituals – if so what are they?
We try to keep it simple and focus on building trust and a group mind. We also like to do a backstage selfie which is both good for social media, and a good pre-show ritual.
Describe the feeling you have when you host a show and people specifically turn up to see your troupe?
There’s nothing like it. We’re privileged to have such big audiences for our shows, and have established a real community with our classes and workshops. We put everything into every performance because we want people to go away from every show making those who missed it feel regrets.
We all know that improv is not scripted but do you have some sort of ‘skeleton script ‘ or format in place that you work towards whilst getting ready for a show? Tell us about it?
It really depends on the show. We have some formats that are very “open” and do not require any specific thing to happen, but just offer a range of restrictions and possibilities.
Other shows, like Tarantino, set the first and last location but everything in the middle is free.
For genre shows, we often have no real format, but the genre itself has an implicit set of characters, locations and plot beats.
How do you warm-up for a show?
Everyone has their own way, but usually we’re frantically getting everything ready for each show and making sure everyone is in their right place. After it’s all settled down, we then like to do a little check in right before to remind each other that we’ve got each others backs.
How do you wind down for a show?
We play at the CREA which has a great gezellig café with wonderful staff. We have a few beers and catch with players and audience and relive all the fun bits of the show.
Do you remember the first show you did with easylaughs? How were you feeling beforehand and how did the show go?
Steve: I do! It was quite an unexpected moment to be asked to play, but one that I wasn’t going to say no to in any circumstances. We did a late night show format which relied on a lot of standup style set pieces and I guess my standup background made me a good choice. I was very nervous beforehand that I’d mess it up, but ended up being asked back to host the format and now I’m a full cast member, so could be worse I suppose.
What has been some of the best advice you have ever been given about improv and comedy?
Don’t just try to be a copy of someone else. Be your own player, your own performer and work out what that means to you.
What would you like to see happen to comedy over the next ten years?
More diversity in performers! Only with that will we see real cultural change and that can only be a good thing. Oh, and society realising the needs of the arts community and recognising it financially. We’re willing to pay 4 Euros for a coffee, but expect our entertainment to be free.