This month is a very exciting one as we are getting to know all about the brand new Improv Social media website The Improv Place. It is a website community where professional improvisers share their joy for the craft and the comedy form. Katy Schutte and Chris Mead are well know improvisers on the UK improv scene and between them they have really impressive improv CVs as well as performed all around the world. This week we talk about preparing for a show and those all important pre-show rituals…..
Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show?
KATY: We’ve had a varied rehearsal history. We’ve had different coaches including me – before I quickly got suckered into performing – Tom Salinsky, Tim Sniffen, Maria Peters, Nell Mooney and others. We brought in Erin McGathy to direct for 13 Cycles and we ran our own rehearsals where we took turns leading sections. Most recently we did a few seasons of Project2 Lates at Hoopla which were us trying out specific sub-genres of science fiction. They were great shows for our audiences, but they were also there for us to experiment in ways we might not do when we’re headlining a festival.
When you first start performing shows, what is your key advice to new troupes to finding the stage time and getting key slots?
KATY: Honestly, I’ve been lucky to be in at the beginning of the Brighton, London and a lot of new improv Festival scenes, so it wasn’t too hard for me to find space. For new groups, I’d suggest they just keep playing and if people won’t program them, that means building an indie scene in a venue outside of the established ones. If the show is good, people will (eventually) come.
CHRIS: Absolutely this. I think you do the work for yourself, you put on the kind of shows that you would love as an audience member and then other people will find you.
Do you have any pre show rituals – if so what are they?
KATY: Project2 currently play Mind Meld, Dutch/Danish Clapping and whatever else we feel we need. We often ask one another what broad thing we’d like to focus on or gift to one another.
CHRIS: We call them missions. I love going on missions. It de-stresses me.
Describe the feeling you have when you host a show and people specifically turn up to see your troupe?
KATY: Chill and grateful. When we did Geekeasy it was like ‘ah, I can relax – these are my people’.
CHRIS: I don’t believe them. I just convince myself they’re here to see Katy. HA! It’s probably true as well.
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?
KATY: Nope. We don’t use any format. Our format is – once we’ve started – whatever type of science fiction we feel like we’re in, we’ll tell that kind of story in that kind of way.
CHRIS: Confirmed. We don’t have any set format at all.
How do you wind down after a show?
KATY: We have a minute or two with our crew (including Fred if he’s scoring the show) to celebrate and call out what worked and what was fun.
CHRIS: And we absolutely never give notes immediately after a show. It’s not healthy to dwell on that right away, I don’t think. We’ll definitely check in during the week but there’s no point jumping into analytical brain before the audience has even finished applauding. At the end of the day, we do this because we love it, right?
What would you like to see happen to comedy over the next ten years?
CHRIS: We have a time machine, so we already know. It’s what you’d hope though – more diversity, more inclusion, a de-emphasis on punching down on other groups, better seating, robots, realistic holograms and tours of the solar system.