All this month we are talking to Rhinoceros Improv about the world of comedy and shows. The team have been around for 3.5 years and this year they have got lots of shows planned including their Rhinoceros’ Big Friday monthly event at the North London Tavern, Kilburn. It happens every last Friday of the month and features improv, character comedy, sketch and clowning.
Today I speak to Philippa Peacock, the founder of the team to find out all about Rhinoceros Improv and what they have in store for the rest of the year!
Hello Rhinoceros Improv! Can you tell us a little bit about your improv team?
Rhinoceros is a long form improv group who formed about 3.5 years ago. There are 7 players, Philippa Peacock, Holly Meechan, Heather Johnson, Andy Miller, Alice Weleminsky-Smith, Anna Clover and David Hoskin. We’re a collection of writers, performers, actors, directors, producers and drug users (strictly Ibuprofen). The Rhinos make up scenes on the back of a suggestion from the audience and lean towards ‘finding the game’ and ‘following the fun’.
We run a monthly comedy night, Rhinoceros’ Big Friday, every last Friday of the month at the North London Tavern, Kilburn. The night features improv, character comedy, sketch & clowning; basically most comedy except stand up, an important goal. Nothing against stand up, but there’s lots of it around and fewer places for comedians who want to perform the other afore-mentioned comedy genres. Variety is the spice of Rhinoceros, as the saying goes.
It felt very scary to put a shout out on social media asking people to ‘audition’ for my group.Philippa Peacock
How did you form?
I decided to put a group together and over the course of a several months, I hand-picked improvisers who I thought would bring their own special individual energy and improv skill in order to make the group the vibrant bunch we are. The group has since evolved further with the current line up being together for about three years
How did you come up with the name of your troupe?
I was pondering what to call the group for a long time. One day I was sitting in an idyllic cottage in the middle of Wales staring out of the window munching on my morning tea and toast. I spotted a stone leaning on a small mound and the stone looked like a… a… ‘Rhinoceros’ – I turned to my husband and said – “oh my god, look at that big stone, it looks just like a Rhinoceros!” and he said, “I think you mean Hippopotamus”, I said “semantics” and he took my toast. And so it was that I settled on Rhinoceros.
What style of Improv do you do?
We perform long form improv, focusing on game and characters. It might loosely be called an Armando, with scenes, call backs and group games and we also incorporate premise and organic scenes. Our shows are about 20-25 minutes long.
What will make you different to other improv shows out there?
We all wear dirty knickers when we play. Audiences have commented on how much we enjoy each other’s company on stage, which makes our sets really joyful. I think it’s the dirty knickers that bonded us.
What other improv groups are you a fan of and why?
I love ‘Sorry’ ‘Showstoppers’ ‘Glenda J Collective’ – These three groups are very different in their genre, but what makes me love them is that they are ingenious, inventive and proper funny.
I spotted a stone leaning on a small mound and the stone looked like a… a… ‘Rhinoceros’ – I turned to my husband and said – “oh my god, look at that big stone, it looks just like a Rhinoceros!” and he said, “I think you mean Hippopotamus”, I said “semantics” and he took my toast. And so it was that I settled on Rhinoceros.Philippa Peacock
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe?
I toyed with the idea for far too long. It felt very scary to put a shout out on social media asking people to ‘audition’ for my group. My head was saying “who the hell does she think she is?” but my other head was saying “build it and they will come” So I now have an improv group and a baseball pitch.
What about extra advice for those wanting to focus on an improv style or format they are creating?
Keep trying things out. You never know where it will lead you. We’ve recently changed our opening and it’s working out really well, but it took some time to hone it. Also ask your coach for advice or to work on a particular focus. Or look out for specialist masterclasses, there are so many resources online, not least on the FA, Nursery, Hoopla, Monkey Toast websites.
If people want to find out more about you where can they find you on social media?
What are your aims for your troupe for the rest of the year?
To perform at more festivals. To perform more. To perform. To.