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This is a post in our "Five Questions" series of interviews with Improv Conspiracy members. During the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival we'll be posting a new interview on every day that we have a show! You can find out more about our show "Our Friend Harold" and buy tickets by clicking here!
What was the first improv show you saw that made you think "wow, I'd like to do that!"?
My introduction to improv mostly came through repeats of the UK version of ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ I don’t think there were any specific scenes or moments that necessarily struck a chord, it was more just a contagious feeling of joy and silliness that the players were exuding that made me want to get involved.
What aspects of the Harold do you find the most rewarding? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of the Harold, and I guess other long-forms of improv, would have to be the sense of camaraderie that you get from performing with your team. The inherent fears of failing onstage is offset by the knowledge that you have five people waiting just offstage to either lift the scene or die alongside you at any given moment. It provides a safety net that builds your confidence and enables you to create bigger / more daring scenes that you might otherwise have avoided. And of course there’s nothing like the sense of shared achievement after a great show. A bit like the feeling after winning a big game or something else sporty, I’d imagine.
The most challenging aspect of the Harold involves having to unlearn bad habits from everyday life; those little defence mechanisms that we all have that help us stave off embarrassment. You really have to relearn how to just embrace an idea as it’s presented to you; learn how to say ‘yes’ and jump into the void again. I guess in a lot of ways it’s giving yourself permission to play and have fun which is a strange notion particularly as we get older and want to be taken seriously. The inherent structure of the Harold really helps this process along though as you always have your team there for support, which does make this transition in thinking somewhat easier.
What would you like your team to be capable of by the end of Comedy Festival? A year from now?
Hmm good question… I’m really quite glad you brought it up. I guess for the most part I’d like to see us further develop our own style and become more aware of our inherent strengths and weaknesses as a team. We could then focus on turning these weaknesses into strengths, whilst simply ignoring our initial strengths. These strengths would, having been left idly by the wayside, slowly deteriorate to the point of becoming weaknesses and the entire process would have to start again. All of this would of course be done with the end goal of delivering a more fluid, seemingly seamless, Harold that both we and the audience would enjoy.
Which Conspiracy members do you have improv crushes on, and why? What do they do that inspires you?
In no particular order other than alphabetical:
Andrew Strano possesses an almost manic enthusiasm that never fails to revive / elevate a scene.
Marcus Willis has a knack for seamless walk-ons and offstage offers.
Ryan Patterson, the calmest performer I know. Seriously. It borders on therapeutic.
Tim Quabba and his ridiculous physicality.
And Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd simply because he always looks like he’s having such fun.
How has your improv training helped your non-improv life?
It’s made me slightly more aware of the absurdity of our daily lives and I’d probably even say it’s given me permission to just relax and have a bit more fun. It turns out we really don’t have to take everything so seriously all the time. Oh, and it’s really cleared up my glaucoma.
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