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  Improv Conspiracy Blog

The latest news, opinions and more!

All posts tagged: ygtmsp
  May 13, 2015

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.

Today, Mike chats with his iO Theatre Summer intensive classmate Damien Vosk. Damien currently plays on Harold Night team Shake-A-Stick, performs stand-up around Melbourne, and will be teaching introductory improv class Level 1: Basic Scenework from Saturday, June 6, which is on sale now.

Mike Brown: Hey Damo.

Damien Vosk: Hello Mike.

How did you find The Improv Conspiracy, how'd you get involved?

I got involved in a roundabout way, where I went on a gap year in the middle of my degree. I did Arts/Law at Monash, and I was pretty uninspired by the law aspect, generally I just tried to subvert the law at every opportunity.

How can I get away with this?

Yeah, law wasn't the best choice for me, I was hating it basically. So I went overseas to see what I wanted to do, and I did a couple of acting courses in New York that really inspired me. A couple of people in my class dragged me along to an improv group their school had. I had a lot of fun in there, I was just sort of awestruck by it – how are these people doing this, it is amazing, there’s gotta be some sort of trick to it, it just blew my mind.

From there I went through and researched my favourite actors and it was like – I'm clearly not going to be a lawyer. I went through all my favourite actors and I found that one thing they all had in common was that they all did improv. So I did a few drop-in classes with the improv group at that university, but I knew nothing of iO or Second City or UCB or whatever.

What kind of improv were they doing? Was it short form?

They were doing a mix – they were doing some short form and some long form. It was in New York so they had both influences. So I came back to Melbourne and enrolled in Impro Melbourne. I did that for a while, that was entertaining me for a little bit. But it’s sort of short form, I see people get away with a lot, and it’s not as challenging. So when Improv Conspiracy started up, I thought I wanted more stage time, so I jumped over there. Aside from run our own indie group, which we did as well.

Tell us about your indie group.

It was Impro Chimps, and it started off with a couple of guys who rocked up to The Clyde, which is a bar in Carlton at the end of each month and we’d do free shows. Then the guy who organised it moved to Sydney, and it was April [Seymore], me, Dan [Pavatich]Tim [Quabba]Marcus [Willis], and a couple of others who aren't involved with Conspiracy. We started getting some really good crowds, it was a lot of fun, did half short from, half long form.

Then you joined the Conspiracy fairly early on, right?

Yeah. Just ended up on a Harold team and went on.

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  May 5, 2015

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.

Today Mike interviews Nadine Sparks. Nadine has played on a variety of Harold teams, and is currently with Shake-A-Stick. She recently ran her own one woman show Rehab as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Mike Brown: Hey Nadine!

Nadine Sparks: Hello!

So I am always curious, how long have you been performing for, and how did you find you find yourself a member of the Improv Conspiracy?

I have been performing since I was four. 


And I started performing classical ballet.

Do you still do that?

No. I haven't done ballet in years, and I didn't like it that much. I thought it was a bit dull.  However there was a bit called "free dance", and you could just dance to the music, and I just loved that. 

Just moving your body around and things like that?

Yeah, but the rest of it was really dull. I kept it up until I was about 15. I discovered drama when I was in high school. I went to St. Martin's Drama Academy, and even at that school drama wasn't a big deal, you know? I did plays and stuff like that, and then when I started doing improv and I loved it. Mainly shortform games and Theatresports, but I loved it. Then went to uni and did physical theatre, and a whole lot of different things. I did youth arts for a while, and then I started teaching and stopped performing, and that was a really big mistake. I thought I would get my creative needs means met through teaching.

Through telling other people how to do things rather than doing things yourself?

Yeah [laughs]. It was a bit depressing, you know? So I started doing stand-up, because I really liked making my own stuff up too. So I guess with all of this, most things I've done I've made it up, or I've been in a crew where we have made it up together. Long-form improv is my paradise of performance land - we make it all up, it's characters, and it's just so fun.

So you've been in the Conspiracy for what, two years now?

The whole of last year. I started training with them two years ago, right after [Melbourne International Comedy] Festival two years ago. Started training, trained with them for about six months, and then I got on a team.

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  April 1, 2015

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.

Today is a special edition with sketch trio Trillcumber. Trillcumber are made up of three members who all met at the Improv Conspiracy – Mario HannahHayley Tantau, and Simon McCulloch. Their show Is This Intimacy? is on through Saturday at Fitzroy bar The Catfish at 8pm.

Mike Brown: We all good?

[Mario checks the Zoom audio recorder that he has set up]

Mario Hannah: I've only got 25 hours left, so keep travelling.

Hayley Tantau: I can't talk about my drug addiction.

Will you give me the recording of this?

Mario Hannah: That’s the idea. [laughs]

Ok, I thought you were just doing this to show off?

Mario Hannah: Nah. I just want to, I'm just wondering, cause you know, a Zoom is a good investment, so if I can help you… I like to help.

I appreciate it.

Hayley Tantau: [laughs] Just let Mario help you! Just let someone in!

Simon McCulloch: A Zoom’s a good investment so if I can help you. It’s like you’re offering me one.

Are you giving me the Zoom?

Mario Hannah: I'm a Zoom salesman.

[all laugh]

This company is just a front for you to sell Zooms.

Mario Hannah: It’s all an elaborate plot to sell a single Zoom.

Hayley Tantau: This sketch group was all… oh nooooo!

Simon McCulloch: It’s all an umbrella corp.

Hayley Tantau: This is why every time we meet for coffee you try to sell me Zooms!


Mario Hannah: Shall we start? [laughs]

So I'm always curious about origin stories – how did the three of you come together to start Trillcumber?

Mario Hannah: I think it was just a Facebook conversation.

So the three of you were friends?

Hayley Tantau: Any time we were at a party, it would always be like us three in the corner talking about, I don't know, doing bits and stuff.

Simon McCulloch: Like creeps in the corner.

Hayley Tantau: Yeah, total creeps, and then eventually we just started messaging on Facebook which just made for more bits. And now we’re doing a Comedy Fest show, that’s that.

Mario Hannah: So we did improv together.

Simon McCulloch: Still do.

Mario Hannah: Yeah we still do. But we were all in separate teams, and we bonded over a Improv Conspiracy Christmas party one time, we were coming up with spin-off ideas for Neighbours one time.

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  April 1, 2015

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.

Today is a special Play Like A Girl edition. Mike speaks to cast members Nadine SparksEllyse O’HalloranLaura BuskesCat CommanderAmruta Nargundkar, and Kay Chan. Play Like A Girl has three editions left – Thursday April 2 [ed- SOLD OUT], Saturday April 4, and Tuesday April 7 [ed- SOLD OUT]. See it 6:30pm at the Croft Institute in the City.

Mike Brown: Play Like A Girl is the Conspiracy’s first gender specific improv show. What has it been like performing together with a group of women compared to playing as part of  your Harold team or playing as part of the Remix, where the genders are mixed? Are there differences?

Laura Buskes: Definitely. There are definitely differences. Merrilee [McCoy, Melbourne based improviser and producer] really nailed it when she was talking about something like this that she’s done before. She said often in improv troupes you as a girl often rely on men to play certain characters or do certain moves in a show. So it’s quite refreshing to have onus back on to you that you are responsible for everything.

Kay Chan: I don’t know, it hasn’t been too different for me. Because you can always choose to play a man or a women, and even on my Harold team [Airblade] I can endow anyone as a man or a woman. The only difference is that there’s heaps of chatter, which is a good and fun thing, whenever we rehearse people want to talk talk talk [laughs].

Nadine Sparks: The reason we wanted to do it is Nightingale, which is an all-female Harold team made up of any females [in the Conspiracy], we were working really well together, and Ellyse and I, and Sophie[Fernandes] and Lucy [Horan]who were in Eye Curtains which was another female troupe, and that was working really well, so we just thought it would be really nice. I mean I’ve been on a Harold team where I’ve been the only female for about two months, you know what I mean? So it’s just nice to, you play differently with women, and I think it’s a nice energy and it’s really nice to find out how different people play.

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  March 31, 2015

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.

Today, a special edition made up of two Improv Conspiracy alumni. Between the two of them, Andrew Strano and Charlie Sturgeon have been a major part of the Conspiracy's young life - they have played in Harold Night teams, The Remix cast, coached improv teams, taught improv workshops, and most importantly - have never been afraid to experiment with what improv can be. Together, they currently make up the completely silent improv duo Quiet Achievers, who can be seen at the Tuxedo Cat, 6pm until Saturday. See them tonight as part of the Melbourne International Cage Match Festival, 10pm at the Dan O'Connell Hotel.

Mike Brown: I'm here with Andrew and Charlie, the Quiet Achievers. Guys, welcome.

[both wave]

You've both been a big part of the Conspiracy - how did you come to decide to team up and strip all talking out of your show?

[Andrew pulls out a A3 notebook from his bag and flicks to a page that says 'silent improv'. He runs his index finger back and forth under the word silent.]


Do one of you have a cold or something?

[Charlie shakes his head. He opens his mouth wide and extends his right arm out, as if singing a show tune. No noise is heard.]

Alright moving on, what do you do when you want to relax?

[Charlie mimes reading a book]

Hey we're in the middle of an interview here.

[Charlie makes a motion with his hands to apologise.] 

Can I be honest? It's really hard to transcribe an interview when neither of you talk.

[Andrew and Charlie look at each other, shrug. Andrew reaches for the notebook and starts pointing to the word silent]

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