This month is February, which some class as the month of love so I thought it was a great thing to do was sit down and chat with someone who loves comedy and performing so much that they do a lot of different things, everything from acting to improv to even a global sketch group! Today we start off our interview getting to know more about the world of Kate!
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Kate Bell and I’m an actor, improviser and teacher and I was born in the Ghetto of Lewisham, South East London. I was a child star like Hannah Montana…well I ‘studied’ at the most notorious school in fiction… spending seven years playing the part of Kelly Bradshaw in BBC TV’s ‘Grange Hill’. I like to think I was almost Carrie Bradshaw….
I am also a professional voice-over artist represented by Yakety Yak too, so if you are in the UK you will have heard my voice advertising something, somewhere I’m sure!
Over the years I’ve been taught by many improv legends including… Mike McShane, Katy Schutte, Chris Mead, Steve Roe, Jonathan ‘Funkhouse’ Monkhouse, Cariad Lloyd, Nigel Downer, Maria Peters, Susan Messing and Rachael Mason.
Anything Katy Schutte and Chris Mead do is always brilliant and inspiringKate Bell
How did you get into Improv and comedy?
As well as being an actor for most of my life, and always into comedy and writing silly sketches, I’ve been improvising since 2013. That was the year I attended Hoopla Impro and was taught on the Performance course by the legend that is Steve Roe. Soon after I became founder-member of all-female (plus one male!) improv team All Made Up.
Who are your comedy icons and inspirations?
Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Victoria Wood, French and Saunders, Julie Walters, Jamie and Natasia Demetriou, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
What style of Improv do you do?
Back in the day All Made Up did short form stuff. These days I regularly perform in longform shows. My group Trash Kingdom normally base our shows on The Living Room format. I do a lot of character stuff. That’s what I love. My fellow improv mate Kristen Drenning and I also perform as KRATE and we do Two-Prov character-based shows. And then my other group Naked Ramen is a sketch group where we write and perform our own sketches but also improv together too.
What improv groups are you a fan of and why?
Anything Katy Schutte and Chris Mead do is always brilliant and inspiring. I love watching the other Queen City Comedy Global Teams perform too online as they are always eclectic and silly and fun. IRL I remember seeing Baby Wants Candy in Edinburgh and they blew me away, as did Austentatious and Mischief Theatre’s ‘The Movie That Goes Wrong’ OG’s!
Do you remember your first show you did as an improviser? How were you feeling beforehand and how did the show go?
Yes! It was our end of course show at Hoopla.
Who would be your dream guest to appear at one of your shows and why?
Kristin Wiig! I mean I know she would just be so much fun to play with!
Do you have any pre show rituals – if so what are they?
Not really. These days, because all my shows are online, I may even be at Lidl an hour before a show picking up a bag of potatoes and a ski jacket!
I was a child star like Hannah Montana…well I ‘studied’ at the most notorious school in fiction… spending seven years playing the part of Kelly Bradshaw in BBC TV’s ‘Grange Hill’.Kate Bell
What is your favourite suggestion to be given to you at a show?
I love when a team member or someone in the audience I know pimps me out and gives me something ridiculous to do that they know I’ll love.
What has been some of the best advice you have ever been given about improv and comedy?
My favourite is ‘If you’re not having fun, you’re the asshole’ Susan Messing and I love ‘To take up space, we must believe in ourselves and the value we add to any activity simply by showing up’. Pippa Evans
Also, the most important thing in comedy is authenticity.
If people want to find out more about you where can they find you on social media?
@katebellactor @allmadeupimprov @pixiimalone @nakedramencomedy on Insta and Kate Bell, All Made Up Improv and Naked Ramen:Sketch Comedy on Facebook.
What would you like to see happen to comedy over the next ten years?
More women and more diversity in comedy. Improv being recognized more on` main stream TV and people getting recognised for ‘original’ work again and not just miming to someone else’s comedy on Tik Tok?! (Controversial!)