So you may have read a previous blog post about No Drama Theatre’s Improv shows (Previously called Improvlova) or perhaps you have attended one of our shows (and hopefully had a good time!). We recently rebranded the improv show to Laughalot Improv to coincide with the launch of our regular monthly show in The Duke pub in Dublin. Serious business then? So how did it come about and what the hell is a theatre group doing improv comedy for?
For those of you who have no idea what Im talking about, improv comedy is comedy improvisation. Its unrehearsed, unscripted and with many of the games peformed, influenced based on suggestions from the audience. The result, when done right, should be a performance of sharp wit with hilarious scenarios. If done wrong, tumbleweeds, boos and tuts from the audience. If done very well, be prepared for accusations of having rehearsed or prepared already! (Some of the episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” are so funny, they often look rehearsed!)
I’ve always loved improvised comedy. About 18 months ago, I thought it would be fun to organise a night of improv comedy as a fundraiser for the group. We were quite nervous on the night, a few drinks were consumsed for Dutch courage and the adrenalin was pumping. The first show was in Cassidy’s bar on Westmoreland St in Dublin. It was a massive success. I judge success based on the feedback of audience members present with no affiliation with the group. It proved to be quite inspiring! So we proceeded to organise some more shows, at random all of which were received well with a great turnout.
Earlier this year I figured that the improv show was something that could be turned from a fundraiser to a viable arm of No Drama Theatre. There was a demand among members for improv and for the chance to perform on stage. There are of course other improv comedy groups in Dublin but for new people wanting to get involved, it can prove very difficult as the improv groups are a tight knit unit.
I attended other improv shows this year to see how the competition faired. Choke Comedy Improv in Limerick and the Craic Pack group in Dublin. Both groups were excellent and each had their own slant with their improv shows. I chatted to one of the founders of Craic Pack after one show, the talented Peter O’Byrne.
Peter is no stranger to comedy. He has been performing with Craic Pack for many years since its founding and also frequents the stand up scene. When not on stage, he can also be found on the TV from time to time. Peter also runs Introductionary courses to Comedy Improv.
Knowing that it was time for us to invest seriously in our improv and up our game, I invited Peter to run some improv workshops for No Drama. They were a roaring success. He’s an excellent tutor and those of us who perform in the improv show benefited greatly from his tutorage.
Our improv shows in the Duke now have a more structured and confident edge. We ban performers taking alcohol before and during the show. We have call times and a 1 hour warm up before each show. We also have “rehearsals” the week of the show.
“Rehearsals” I hear you say? Well, its not a rehearsal as such but an improv fresher. We’ve learnt that being funny has very little to do with successful improv. It takes good teamwork and going with what you are presented with on stage. It is in fact, a mindset. Improv goes against the grain of how we were reared to live our lives. Therefore in our rehearsal class, we spend the time carrying out improv exercises that have little to do with humour and everything to do with getting in the mindset. It makes a massive difference to our performance on the night of a show.
I never tire of improv. Every show brings something different and there is always a few moments of comedy gold in each show. The buzz of hearing the audience laugh and the odd heckle is fantastic.
As the show has become more successful, we now have the additional challenge of ensuring that people dont view No Drama Theatre as a improvisation theatre group. The rebranding and handling of our improv shows and workshops is being kept seperate to our theatre workshops and shows to ensure we keep ourselves focussed. But it has to be said, its alot of fun! Hopefully you will catch one of our shows too!