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 Kate and I are going to be talking about Improv, performing and workshops.
Tell us all about your Improv Company All Made Up?
This was definitely another one of the positives that came out of the pandemic. I got made redundant from my theatre job and so I jumped at the chance to finally concentrate fully on one of my passions. I believe improv can help us all in every aspect of our daily lives.
So, wanted to introduce beginners to this world of fun and help them discover that they are enough. They’re brilliant, you’re brilliant…we’re all brilliant! And we can do SO much more than we think we can! I also wanted to develop workshops for Improvisers and actors too using my set of skills. And so, All Made Up Improv was born!
Tell us about the workshops you have coming up?
I have a regular drop-in which is ‘Back to Basics Improv Drills’, currently on a Monday at 6pm GMT, just working out the date for the next one as I have other brand new classes I am in the process of scheduling too including Drama Classes for Improvisers and Acting When You’re Resting for Actors! We have more of our very popular accent workshop collabs planned with Accent and Voice Coach Chloe English too!
Another brand-new taster class coming up is ‘Fam-Prov’ where parents and guardians get to try improvising with their kids! Should be a fun one! Details of that are here!
Often if someone starts the group they are seen as the leader, the coach, the organiser and that’s not necessarily what you initially envisaged.Kate Bell
Why is it fun to teach improv?
I love to teach absolute beginners because it never stops amazing me how people come in a bit nervous or unsure of what to expect, really thinking they aren’t going to be very good at the thing they don’t really know what they’ve signed up for…and they are brilliant and so imaginative and bold and just fun. I love that. All I ask is that people commit and go for it and everyone does and it makes my heart full!
Do you have to do online training as well? How is that different to doing it in person?
All Made Up Improv has been 100% online to this point because it started in the pandemic. I love this way of working because I have been able to teach people from all over the world, and that would not have been possible pre-Zoom and the online improv boom!
I will definitely be aiming to do a hybrid of online and IRL in some capacity this year.
If people want to get involved with your workshops how can they sign up?
Keep your eyes on my social pages and on my website for updates and new classes.
What is the most important lesson to teach in improv?
Listen. Say yes. It’s not about you. Make your scene partner look great. Be authentic.
You are also part of an improv team called Trash Kingdom tell us all about that!
In July 2020, Queen City Comedy held auditions open to improvisers around the world. I auditioned and got on one of the teams! Our team is all-women and full of talented and amazing humans and we all just love each other a LOT! We are coached by the amazing Jenn Bianchi too. In Trash Kingdom alone we are representing England, USA, Philippines, Bulgaria/Belgium and India! Up until recently there were 6 Global Teams with 3 Coaches and 60 Team Members representing over 13 countries. They have just expanded again with some brand-new teams! These teams perform exclusively online with shows being broadcast live on the Queen City Comedy Facebook Page.
I believe improv can help us all in every aspect of our daily lives.Kate Bell
Do you have any shows or festivals coming up this year?
We do! You can see us live on the Queen City Comedy Facebook page on Sat 19th Feb and regularly about every 6 weeks after that.
We have a set of shows coming up for Highwire Season 6 too starting Sun 20th Feb and you can follow their FB and Insta for updates and subscribe to their You Tube Channel! https://www.youtube.com/highwireimprov
Where can people find out more information about your team?
On the Queen City Comedy FB page and on my socials.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given about improv and why?
Simply commit. Specificity kills ambiguity. Conflict is for drama; tension is for comedy. All from Rachael Mason and Susan Messing’s ‘Unf*ck your Improv’ course!
All Made Up Improv has been 100% online to this point because it started in the pandemic. I love this way of working because I have been able to teach people from all over the world, and that would not have been possible pre-Zoom and the online improv boom!Kate Bell
What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?
Too many ridiculous ones to think of!
What have been the worst?
Nothing springs to mind…I know there are plenty of clangers! I try and have the ‘it’s out there in the ether, and it’s done now’ mentality…. which was much easier when everything is online and recorded now! Ha!
Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show?
I will warm-up with whoever I am performing with online and we will chat, do a check-in of how we all at then play our favourite warm-ups and just have some silly chat! With my teams we normally always do stuff that involves a warm-up doing lots of quickfire characters.
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?
With Trash Kingdom we do the Living Room format so this is our structure. This involves us having a chat about a certain topic and then we do scenes based on inspiration from those chats. Because we all get on so well and love a chat, this is an easy warm-up for us! We often find that stuff we were chatting about in our warm-up ends up making an appearance in a scene or 2 in the show too!
With my duo KRATE, myself and Kristen decide on a frame for our show and what kind of characters we’d like to play and certain topics or points we want to hit and that’s it. Most recently we have been doing a show called ‘Your Local Community’ and it’s all based in a crazy town and a Facebook Live and two ridiculous self-titled ‘Local celebrity influencers’. It’s a great and very silly. We’ve ended up calling on some Trash Kingdom and Naked Ramen crew too to join in the fun!
How do you wind down for a show?
Yeah, this is difficult online! You still have a bit of a buzz after a show and we normally try and have a bit of a giddy online Zoom de-brief after the show but often it’s like 4am for Andi in the Philippines or 2am for Athira in India of if it’s daytime somewhere, someone’s rushing off to work or some other show or class or activity! So, it’s a bit of a shame in that respect that we can’t all go to the bar together after the show!
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe?
From my experience I would say do it! If it doesn’t work out, you gave it a go! It can be a fantastic adventure as mine was back in the day of my group All Made Up.
My biggest piece of advice is be realistic though, people have lots going on and different priorities. Improv groups normally have a shelf-life too because of this. When you are putting a group together yourself, I would say have a good think about the dynamic of the group of people you are thinking of putting together, will that work?
When you get everyone together make sure everyone knows their role. Often if someone starts the group they are seen as the leader, the coach, the organiser and that’s not necessarily what you initially envisaged. Katy Schutte said something recently that I thought was really good and that is, leading up to each show give everyone a specific role so one person does social media marketing, one person runs the rehearsals, one person deals/finds the venue etc and rotate that every time so everyone has to do their bit and it doesn’t just fall on one person and there’s no awkward grey area within the group about this which can cause tensions.
And most importantly have fun. If it’s not fun, what’s the point!