All this month, we are putting Charlie Vero-Martin in the spotlight. Charlie is a comedian. an improviser, and is even in the troupe Glitch where she improvises with puppets. Today we talk all about how Charlie started the improv journey and key advice.
Hello There! Tell us who you are and three random facts about yourself!
1. I have had covid this summer
2. Orangutans are my favourite animal.
3. I lived in Venice for a year and fell asleep on a boat.
How did you get into improv?
Same as most: I started watching reruns of Whose Line instead of revising for my exams. I’m from Edinburgh so started seeing the early improv groups at the Fringe in 2007/8 and then auditioned for my uni’s improv group in my first year and never looked back.
Once we asked for a relationship and got “ghost and hauntee”, which I thought was hilarious.Charlie Vero-Martin
What inspired you to start improv?
I liked the freedom of it. You could be whoever you wanted to be regardless of age, build, gender etc. which as a young Scottish woman (not a lot of those parts) was very tempting. And there’s nothing more fun that feeling like part of a gang.
What troupes are you a part of?
Glitch – The Improvised Puppet Show and I often guest with Hat Trick, Playground Swingers and other mixed line-ups. I’ve also been with the Nursery’s Boxed In, a two-prov called Mike & Charlie and St Andrews University’s Blind Mirth. I do a lot of improv as some of my solo characters such as Napoleon.
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
I like to mix it up occasionally. I’m drawn to the slightly silly and strong characters but also finding real emotional connections. The best improv involves a bit of everything.
What are some of your earliest memories of your early improv performances?
Fun. The very early on shows felt like magic. Constantly surprised at yourself and others. Sadly when you start going longer and you analyse things too much you can feel stuck in a rut. But that goes in cycles.
Who are some Improvisers that you find inspiring and why?
I love Lauren Shearing and Maria Peters from Breaking & Entering. Their shows are so clever and rich but you never feel like they’re “trying” for that. I always laugh at their shows and love watching them play. I recently did an online course with them and loved how they talked about scenes in terms of “weight and heat”.
What three things are you looking forward to about performing in an improv show?
PEOPLE! I’ve missed playing with old friends and experiencing playing with new ones for the first time.
No laughter delays. I tried doing a couple of zoom gigs and online courses and while I think they’re great for accessibility, I am looking forward to performing without a digital time lag.
The after party. This sort of comes under “People” but the social aspect of improv is so important to me. Early in lockdown I did an online show with Boxed In and it was lovely but as soon as it ended I was suddenly so aware of how alone I felt. Surrounded by cardboard…
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?
1. Don’t celebrate or beat yourself up about a show past the next day. Digest how you feel after the show – celebrate or despair – and then move on to the next.
2. “The Four Stages of Competence Model” helped me understand the cycle I mentioned earlier and how not get down by it.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
There are so many. There’s nothing better than surprising your audience or even better, really satisfying them in a surprising way. When all the elements come together. And it’s so exciting to discover it in the moment with your scene partner.
What have been some of the worst and why?
I blame parents! I can think of two shows that have gone really dark and weird, one with my parents in the audience and another with my scene partner’s. I think we start getting into our heads a bit.
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
Have fun. And if it stops feeling fun, figure out why and voice it. Is someone in the group making you uncomfortable? Do you need a bit of a break or feel like trying something else? Having other hobbies and skills will always enrich your improv.
I liked the freedom of it. You could be whoever you wanted to be regardless of age, build, gender etc. which as a young Scottish woman (not a lot of those parts) was very tempting. And there’s nothing more fun that feeling like part of a gang.Charlie Vero-Martin
What are three things you want to focus on this season with your own improv?
I’ve been working a bit more on game recently and I’d like to keep practicing with that lens.
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
Once we asked for a relationship and got “ghost and hauntee”, which I thought was hilarious. As Napoleon I ask for real life agony aunt questions and had everything from “how to get my cat to stop scratching visitors” to “am I ready for children?”
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Twitter and Instagram @CharlieVMartin
My website for all stuff comedy and acting is www.charlieveromartin.com but if you are interested in my improv for business workshops or blog about improv and mental health look here:
Want to see Charlie Vero-Martin live? You can here are dates for upcoming shows:
13 October – Rose & Crown, Kentish Town – Free – WIP
29 October – 31 October – Museum of Comedy
2 Nov – Aces & Eights (TBC)
7 Nov – Aces & Eights
9 Nov – Hoopla Impro – Charlie’s Comedy Cabaret
15 Nov – Hoopla Impro – Factually Inaccurate