Improv Community Heroes: Barnish and Carmichael

We love touring Sex, Lies & Improvisation and teaching workshops round the country, especially when we get to visit other improv communities. We’ve noticed that improv scenes usually require someone to do all the boring bits so that the rest of us get to have fun. Let’s celebrate those people with this blog series. 

Everybody, these are…The Improv Community Heroes!

Hero Fact File

Names: Anthony Barnish and James Carmichael

Location of Hero-ing: Manchester

Shows: We run a monthly improv show as Absolute Onions which is the 3rd Wednesday of the month at Fierce Bar in the Northern Quarter. It’s just called “Improv Comedy”, so it does exactly what it says on the tin. We are also involved in Im prov On Demand, which performs monthly at Withinprov, which takes place at Fuel in Withington, monthly.Troupe: We also have a twoprov called Barnish & Carmichael – which we will perform for anyone who wants us!

Rachel: Tell us about your improv scene.

It’s a growing scene and we’ve seen our shows and other groups develop quickly over the past 18 months. Around six years ago, there were only one or two groups but now there are lots of groups, events, workshops and shows.

Rachel: The pandemic did a good job of breaking up communities, including improv scenes. How have you got your scene up and running again?

We were starting to gain a lot of traction at the beginning of 2020 with shows in Manchester and other cities planned, so it felt like we were starting from the beginning again at the end of 2021.  We’re very lucky to have a great venue in Fierce Bar who are very supportive of us and host other comedy and improv shows, and Cane and Grain who offer us a rehearsal space.  Having the weekly ImproQuo Improv Jam happening IRL (rather than virtually) has helped us connect back with the wider improv community in Manchester.

Rachel: What top tips can you offer other improv communities?

Keep in touch and talk to people in other cities and improv communities outside of your own – for motivation, tips and guests for your own shows. We wouldn’t be in the position we are in without the help and support of people outside of Manchester.

Rachel: And what advice can you offer about running shows?

Be bold talking to pubs and other venues about shows and rehearsal space. These places have suffered from the pandemic as well and will be open to other options to drive bar sales. If one pub says no, move on to the next – you will eventually find a manager who is keen.

In terms of setting up a show in your own town don’t do Pay As You Feel shows – trust you are better than that and have more value. We charge £5 to give our show a value. It sets audience expectations. 

We’ve set ourselves up on Eventbrite (other ticketing providers are available), have posters in venues and flyers and we sometimes pay for social media advertising – all of this helps in finding an audience.  

Don’t rest on your laurels – we do this for every show – if we have had a sold out show it just proves that we need to do it all again for the next show and the next.

Rachel: What’s awesome about being an improv community hero?

Finding out you are one by being interviewed for The Phoenix Remix.

Rachel: Hey, the pleasure’s all ours! But what else is awesome?

It is nice to look at nights and shows we have made happen and be able to say “I built that!”

Rachel: And what sucks?

The admin!

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