Improv

Ones To Watch 2023 – INTERVIEW – Sal Fadhley

It is that time of the year where we celebrate the acts that you need to keep an eye on in 2023. It is an exciting time of the year as it means we can talk to acts to find out what they have in store for audiences and what you can look forward to in the new year. Today we are doing something a bit different – in 2023 we have teamed up with improviser Sal Fadley to provide you with more improv content. He is recording shows in London so that more people gain an understanding what the scene is like in the capital. I spoke to him to find out more and if you want to start watching any of these shows then you can by visiting this new page on the website.

Hello tell us all about yourself?

I’m an improviser and improv fan from London. I live in unfashionable North London with two cats and lots of cameras. 

How did your idea for filming shows come about?

I’ve always loved cameras, and in the last few years became a fan of improv. 

When I first took courses, I enjoyed watching YouTube videos made by UCB in New York. These videos were excellent and featured many famous comedians, often before they had become famous. They opened my mind to the kinds of things that could be done on an improv stage.

I was surprised that there was almost no video of British improv, other than Whose Line. I think Whose Line is amazing, but it’s kinda old now and really not all that indicative of the kinds of things you might see on a modern improv stage.

Later on, when I started performing, it always seemed sad to me that so many excellent performances are lost forever. Some improvisers say that is the virtue of our art form. I think it’s a point of pride amongst improvisers that there’s no point in recording a show because they can do another show tomorrow that’s even funnier. 

But that misses the point. Whenever I’m asked about what I do, most British comedy fans have no idea the improv scene even exists. If I say that I do comedy as a hobby, most people will say, “tell me a joke”. When you explain what you do is made up on the spot, they say, “oh, like, Whose Line is it Anyway”? By the time I’ve explained that Whose Line is an excellent example of just one type of improvised comedy, I’ve probably lost them!

I think it would make our scene so much more accessible if people who have never seen an improv show could see videos of what is available in London.

Why do you think it is important to film shows?

I just don’t want these moments to be lost. Improv is essentially a live art form, but that doesn’t mean it has to be forgotten. 

If our scene is going to grow, we need to be able to reach a wider audience. That means bringing new people into shows and getting teams booked for festivals that might not usually go for improvisers. 

Good quality, professionally made video can help with that. 

How did you get into improv?

Like most performers, I took a class. I had been invited along to FA’s level one by a friend from university that I hadn’t seen in years. He said, “I’m doing a comedy training class, I think you will like it”. I was convinced he was wrong about that, but I signed up just to spend some time with this friend. 

It was a lot of fun, and I kept doing it. That was five years ago!

What are your plans improv-wise for 2023?

I want to record more shows. I want to work with artists and groups who want to experiment with how we can incorporate video into the performance. 

I’m also running my own monthly shows at The Glitch, a small venue about 5 minutes. walk from Waterloo Station. Hopefully, we can start a 2nd monthly night around April. 

I’ve noticed that bar owners like improv audiences; They tend to stick around and buy more rounds than the stand-up crowd. Improv is good business! 

Are you on social media? If so how can people find out more about your troupe?

You can contact me on @salimfadhley on Instagram.

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