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During 2015, Improv Conspiracy member Mike Brown is going to have a chat to every single member of the Conspiracy - about life, about improv, and everything in between. This is: You're Going To Meet Some People.
Patrick Rehill: Were you there when I tackled the guy in the jam?
Mike Brown: No…
What happened? Tell me.
Welcome to the interview Patrick. So you were saying you tackled someone in the jam?
We were just doing a scene and it wasn't working very well and someone tagged out and, I had nothing so I just went out with this idea of a rollercoaster created that kinda ruined people’s childhoods.
That’s a cool idea!
It was weird though because I got tagged out and someone came in as a Teletubby or as Barney the Dinosaur or something and I just got this impulse to run on and tackle him and sorta ruin things for the children.
Did you know this person?
No, and I was reminded of the jamafesto right after getting off stage. Namely that the insurance doesn't cover anyone being kicked in the head.
Have you spoke to that person since? They haven't quit improv, have they?
[nervous laughs] I'm not sure. He was in level one at the time. I spoke to him afterwards, “I’m so sorry, was that ok?” Getting permission afterwards, it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask for permission.
Hopefully they are ok now.
I do hope so.
You're pretty new to being on a Harold team. Tell me about your journey – what brought you into signing up for Level 1 and not only doing it but continuing so far that you're now performing with [Harold Night team] Airblade every week?
Luck to some degree, for the Harold team part. What brought me to improv originally was that I was kinda in this weird period about this time last year where sort of, I didn't quite know what I was doing with my life and yadda yadda yadda…
Yeah, what were you doing with your life?
Same thing that I'm doing now, which is studying.
So you’re at university.
Yeah. Political science and economics, but I didn't have anything fun to do on the side of that.
Political science isn't very fun? [laughs]
It’s interesting, I'll give it that. But you just want to relax. So I decided that I wanted to do comedy, so I thought about stand-up for a little bit, decided that wasn't my cup of tea, so I auditioned for the Melbourne Uni Law Review, because I wanted to do something team based and collaborative.
A lot of amazing from Melbourne have went through that as their starting point. The Working Dog guys – Rob Sitch and Santo Cilauro, and all those guys in the 80s and early 90s.
Yeah before D-Generation. So I auditioned for that, I got to a callback and they asked me to write a sketch. Basically it was supposed to be a five minute sketch and they wanted to keep the characters down, the cast down, the number of characters. I didn't know that they wanted something performable, so I wrote this sketch for like seven people, special effects, a planet blows up at the end of the sketch. It was a sketch where you’d kinda need to bring in Industrial Light and Magic…
It’s got Muppets. It’s got the cast of a North Korean Opening Ceremony…
Just a whole lot of children creepily playing guitar in the background while smiling with dead eyes at the camera. So that was an utter failure and it was amazingly fun at the same time. So I didn't get into that, and I had been riding past the Dan O'Connell [Hotel, home of the Improv Conspiracy], and I saw the sign up, so I thought screw it, I know what I want to do, I'm not going to chicken out of this, I'm going to sign up for improv classes. It took me another three months to sign up for a class because I was too scared to go to a Comedy Festival show because I didn't quite understand the whole thing.
Understand what? Improv?
Yeah. I sort of, don't know, I'm just weird and socially awkward.
What did you think it was?
I can’t remember how well I understood long form actually. I can’t remember if I thought that it was some kind of sort-formy thing where they grab audience members and make us rap or something.
[laughs] No, Improv Conspiracy is not that.
I just felt a little uncomfortable going out. It was weird, I was just sort of awkward. And I have a lot more self-confidence now than I did when I started improv. So the first thing I ever did was Level 1, walked in and I loved it ever since.
And the people you are with on Airblade, was there anyone who you were...
Oh Airblade! Well Mike Brown’s a big inspiration [laughs].
No no no, is there anyone who you were with in Level 1 who you are now playing with regularly on Airblade?
Yes! Sorry, I didn't mean that. I always do jokes and then I’m like “oh fuck” I didn't mean that, if you can call them jokes. [laughs] I was with Josh [Chodziesner] and Brit [Crellin] from Airblade in my first level one class, and I've rarely done a show without them. Every class to Airblade which was amazing, and my level one teacher is...
Andrew Strano who’s amazing, as the coach who was sort of like crazy throwback and wonderful. Just very quickly I got on a team because I like “well, I can audition”. I lean into the fear, I audition expecting probably not to get it, and I got it, and I got a fantastic team.
Next question. If you had to write up your OKCupid dating profile, how would you describe yourself.
Let’s get some keywords going. What are you into?
Non-smoker. [laughs]. I’m… it’s difficult. I’d say I am… I'm hesitant to use the word introverted because the internet has kind of jumped on that in the past few years. But I'd say I'm quite sort of, I like keeping to myself a lot. In terms of into just a lot of nerdy shit – listening to far too many podcasts, I sort of love the work that I’m studying, and then a whole lot of video games, Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek…
You're a Sci-Fi guy?
Yeah yeah, love me some sci-fi.
You’re a music guy as well from conversations we've had.
Yeah a little bit. I've played the guitar a bit throughout high school and kind of jammed with some friends. I'm kind of terrible but really enjoyed it if you don’t have any talent.
So let’s review. Non-smoker. Into music, video games, sci-fi stuff.
Although my computer broke so I have nothing to play them on now. I'm just writing now.
You're a writer, what else, what are we missing. A bit of an introvert, need you’re down time. Anything else I’m adding to this sign-up sheet right now?
Oh boy. [both laugh]. Tall dark and handsome?
I’m going to set you up with someone Patrick.
Oh shit. [both laugh]. I don't like being set up with strangers, is that…
Yeah, and I'd say I'm probably self-destructive in most social situations, in that I will just embarrass myself whenever possible.
Is there a time when you did that?
No we're not… Look, long story short I was out at a party once sort of… I can’t read signals. This girls was talking to me for like hours and hours and hours and I think clearly in retrospect flirting at least around me. And I got to that and I was so kind of weirded out by that, that someone was interested me in that I freaked out, shook her hand, and just left.
[laughs] Oh no! She didn't try to chase after you?
This isn’t going on the hypothetical dating profile isn't it?
I don't think that’s a question.
Testimonials at the bottom – he shook my hand and disappeared into the night after talking about Dune for four hours.
What’s your favourite pre-show warm-up?
I love me some, in terms of games I love me Tag Run City just ‘cuz I feel within, I have this tendency which is, I need to reign in, just to go sort of crazy and length things, and I sort of push some tag runs a bit too far recently, but I just love that.
So as a game what is it?
You start off a scene with someone who is the mayor of Tag Run City, a fictional city that’s just, and they're talking to someone, and someone will tag in and start a scene with the remaining person, and keep layering things on and layering things on.
The first time I played it within level three I think, it ended up with me and Lucy who was assisting as snake versions of John Travolta and Uma Thurman re-enacting the dance scene from Pulp Fiction. It went like, animals on a space station to scientology into a mine into that and I think the game got called there, because we were all like what are we doing.
Yeah that sounds insane!
And in terms of, I love listening to music just to get me pumped.
What do you listen to?
A pretty embarrassing playlist, and eclectic playlist. My favourites are Hero by Childish Gambino, just cause Donald Glover is amazing, amazing improviser, amazing comedian; and that song is just so ridiculously self-aggrandising hip-hop but I love it going on stage. And then just upbeat stuff – a lot of a band called Anamanaguchi, chiptune stuff, they're great. Third wave ska stuff, and also if I feel sort of in the mood for it, I read Stephen Colbert say that his favourite song about being a performer is The Best Imitation of Myself by Ben Folds Five, so I listen to that occasionally. It works on a couple of levels of sort of reinforcing how to be a good performer and role as performer, and being honest on stage.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Does statistical analysis count? I don't do much of it in my improv.
Hidden talents. Yeah I'd say I don't really have anything.
All the talents you show to the world all of the time?
Yeah either through university or improv. Like I like running, I’m not sure how good I am at it, but I think it’s something that might catch people off guard if they knew it. Physical activity but I don't think that really counts as a talent.
Ok let’s switch the question then. If there’s any hidden talent you could have, what would you want it to be?
Can I say like flight or invisibility?
I don't see why not.
This is really a question that I should have spent like… being a fourteen year old and working out which superhero, which super power I wanted to be. I think I did but must have forgotten it.
Let’s see. I'd love to be able to sing, but …
Be able to sing but not able to sing anywhere, because it’s a hidden talent? You’d get dragged out to a karaoke bar, but it’s not like.. “Patrick can sing!”
Wait so you're saying I can have a superpower but if I don't use it to help anyone because they can't see it? What if my super power was invisibility, so I couldn't be seen?
Ohhhh! Well that would be fine then.
If people noticed the sky looked a little weird, because if it’s invisibility it’s got that weird see-through shape…
Yeah like in Die Another Day, that stupid invisible car that they had.
Yeah because if the movies have taught us anything…
Or Halo, it’s that you're invisible, but you have an outline of your body. It sort of pops out of the air a little bit.
You're just kind of… is that supposed to be the cloud of air around?
Yeah I guess so. Because it’s kind of like indicating that the body is there, as opposed to no cloud if the body wasn't there.
I'd love to see one of those science videos on YouTube, I'm sure there’s something dealing with that.
Have lessons learnt via improv impacted you as a person personally? Do you think you're changing as a person due to improv?
Absolutely and absolutely for the positive. It’s given me a hobby outside of working and studying, doing that. It’s massively boosted my self-confidence. And it’s introduced me to a lot of cool people – some of whom will interview me, some of whom won’t. Yeah, I've just met so many great people through it and I think I've became a better person for it.
Any particular things you've done in a class or a show where you feel better personally for it?
[laughs]. It’s helped me be… I can think of improv breakthroughs that have helped me as a person. I think I've got two very quickly. I haven't been doing it for that long now.
How long for?
Seven months now. So the first one was having fun on stage, and that occurred to me within level three because you know, I was just terrified and then I discovered fun things like tag runs and stuff, and that led to me going – I just need to have fun on stage and that would be great. I had one very recently, it was a week ago, that you were that for. On Tuesday in training I did a really long scene, which was like phenomenal, just playing it truthfully and slowly. And my scene partner Kay [Chan] was just amazing in that, and helped carry me through in what would have been a really tough scene for me to go through beforehand. That was a real breakthrough for me, playing truthfully and really grounded.
Ok let’s move onto something more silly than. When you were younger, did you have any celebrity crushes?
Emma Watson. [both laugh]
Harry Potter films?
Yeah Harry Potter films. Yep, big fan of Harry Potter films. Big fan of feminism. So it’s just, yeah. That’s probably my biggest celebrity crush.
Oh it sounds like you haven't moved on yet.
Oh no no, no. No. Oh boy! [pause] Destroy the phone! [both laugh]
Ok. From going to Conspiracy shows and watching shows and performing with people, are their any Conspiracy improv crushes that you have?
Just [pause]. Sort of just a lot of people I respect. Let me pull up the performers page and I'll just name them all.
Are you serious?
Oh yeah, everyone in the Conspiracy is just amazing. In particular, outside of… the performers I really love watching, yeah there are a whole bunch, probably too many to list actually. Everyone’s great.
You’re not going to give us a couple?
[laughs] I like watching Tim Quabba because I like his play style. I think that his, I learnt a lot from sort of watching him. The whole of Bear Attack – I was blown away by them. [Andrew] Strano and Pano-Stritch were amazing to me. I'm blanking on them. Charlie Sturgeon, the whole of Trillcumber – Hayley [Tantau], Mario [Hannah], Simon [McCulloch], they are all amazing to watch, I love how all of them play. That’s just a handful. I could go on, but I’d probably list the whole company.
If you are a Scooby Doo villain, what would be your disguise?
Scooby Doo watcher as a kid?
Yeah yeah. I always hated it when, I also got the kind of newer ones where they’d be fighting supernatural like enemies.
What’s the point of that? It has to be the creepy old man down at the mill!
It always has to be a creepy abandoned fairground owner who is doing some dodgy deal with property development.
It was a very serious show, Scooby Doo, in retrospect.
Yeah Scooby Doo has a lot to do to teach us about the..
Economics of the world.
Yeah the appreciation of land values and what that does to teenagers in abandoned theme parks.
I'd probably go with some… what’s something terrifying but also fun to animate?
[laughs] You're thinking about the animators?
Yeah. Those people at Hanna-Barbera fifty years ago need a break! I'd go with some sort of like, space pirate kind of covers it. But I'm thinking some sort of skeleton or zombie in a space suit.
Oh that’s great! So when you prop the head, the helmet, you see a skeleton and go running.
Although it might have to be one of those things where you have to rig an elaborate series of projectors because I don’t know if someone can wear a convincing skeleton costume and not pick that it’s the creepy old man at the fairgrounds.
It’s always just like a cheap mask. Like it’s so scary when you only see that, but it’s always just a cheap mask that pulls right off the top of the head.
Yeah, it’s scary for a dude who's totally baked and a German Shepard. But once you get up close, not so much. Yeah I think that’s in the spirit of classic Scooby Doo.
We always have questions from the Improv Conspiracy Student Resource group. Nadine S asks: How do your friends and family view your relationship to improv?
I think they want me to stop talking about it.
[laughs] Because you are very excited about it?
Ohhhh yeah the worst is when I see a really great show and I try to recap it to friends who weren't there the next day. I’ll be like “Then they did this and this and this,” and I'll forget something that is the end result, so I'll have to go back and flesh out the set-up and it will be awful.
I think generally they want me to stop talking about it. The number of Cage Match teams I want to start…
Can you give us a scoop?
Well we've got a Deconstruction team that we formed in the auditions last time around when we went for drinks to drown our sorrows which should be coming up soon.
What’s the name of the team?
We've had about fifty different names which are probably, no-one can agree on it. We were going to be, my favourite is still Dante’s Peak vs The Volcano which came about because, I think it might have been Shane [Henry], Matt [Jenner] and I were just riffing, and I think the two of them had a couple of beers and I had a ton of painkillers because I just had a tooth out, and we came up with the name Dante’s Peak vs The Volcano. It’s such a stupid joke but I still love it because it’s such a fun moment.
I want to do a two man team with Josh [Chodziesner] from Airblade because I figure we have to inevitably at some point. I've been playing with him since level one so it would be a ton of fun. I'm also kind of floating the idea of a narrative team with Shane [Henry], we're working on it and we might bring it back later on. That’s definitely months away, maybe when he gets back from the States. Stay tuned!
Anything to plug?
I guess I'll plug my Twitter which I restarted yesterday. @PRehill. That was a great get [laughs]. I went through yesterday and deleted like these seventy tweets that I made two years ago because they are just inco-, I didn't want them sitting around there, they are just sort of incomprehensible stuff from a very different world where I was massively more politically engaged then I am now.
There was a whole stream of tweets where I was basically trying to shout at David Cameron about not supporting the alternative vote referendum in the UK in light of how many seats UKIP won at the council elections that year.
You had a lot going on it sounds like.
I read too much news. That’s why I had to get into improv, because being well informed can be tragic sometimes.
We also end with this one question from the last interview conducted. Laura Buskes asks: What’s your biggest regret?
I’d say my biggest regret is not coming to this kind of thing earlier. In that..
To improv and Improv Conspiracy.
Yeah, or to writing sketch or anything like that.
Yeah. Although I'm fairly sure that I wouldn't be able to do any of that without Conspiracy, wouldn’t have the willpower to take the initiative on that kind of stuff. And it’s such a stupidly neurotic thing for me to be thinking about but every time I hear from someone who started it earlier than I did, which is not very many people, it always makes me think of sort of all the fun times I could have been having doing that.
Years and years and years?
Yeah yeah. Which is such a weird thing to say. Then I kind of think how much better I would have been if I started then.
I did year twelve drama and I sucked at it because I had no sort of emotion, I was a seventeen year old and I had no emotional intelligence about me and I sort of just couldn't pull off that work. I kind of grew to a stage in my life where I could do improv. If I discovered it later in my life I could have done very difference work, better work. Yeah I think that’s kind of a neurotic thing but that’s something I've kind of been thinking about lately.
So, what question do you want to ask to the next person being interviewed?
[confident laugh] I tried to come up with something heady and weighty about life and improv and what not, but I came up with this today. If you could do any show you wanted with any person you wanted-
In the world?
In the world, who would it be?
How would you answer that question. Who are you doing your show with Pat?
I’m doing it with Patrick Stewart. I’m doing it on the set of the bridge of the Enterprise D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. And I was just listening to a podcast, have you ever heard It’s That Episode?
Yes, I’m familiar with it.
It’s decent, I don't know a whole lot of the shows but I like the ones that I do. Neil Casey, from Upright Citizens Brigade, from Death by Roo Roo who is a team that I look up to. He was talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation, they were watching I think Cause and Effect on that, so I would like, either just watch Neil Casey and Patrick Stewart to a monoscene on the bridge of the Enterprise-
Oh you wouldn't even be in it?
I would love to be in it but I probably couldn't keep up with them.
Give yourself some self-confidence!
Patrick Stewart apparently sat in with the Improvised Shakespeare Company.
Yeah he was touring with them for a while. And oddly enough, one of the things I read in an interview about this was that he felt that he couldn't keep up with the improvisers from the Improvised Shakespeare Company. He'd welcome you!
So what you are saying is that Patrick Stewart and I are kind of on the same level?
That’s exactly. He'd welcome you just like you would welcome him and make some amazing work.
[laughs] Oh boy. Yeah, I’m not sure if that comment will come off well in text. I am the same as Patrick Stewart I think!
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