Early July COVID-19 Update: Due to reintroduced restrictions, we've been forced to postpone ALL improv classes until further notice. We will be in touch with affected students via email. We'll be converting listed in-person sketch comedy classes to online versions, and adding additional classes where possible. There are no shows running at the theatre.

  Improv Conspiracy Blog

The latest news, opinions and more!

  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.

As part of this series, we ask for questions from the Improv Conspiracy student group on Facebook. Today, well respected Conspiracy alumni Dan Pavatich takes nothing but questions from the students, in a special edition of YGTMSP. See Dan in Bear Attack, Thursday through Saturday, 11pm at the Victoria Hotel; or in his solo show Please Stay, 8:30 Tuesday through Saturday at Highlander Bar.

Mike Brown: These are all from the student group.

Dan Pavatich: Oh great.

So Daniel asks: What’s the oldest piece of technology that you own?

Oh wow. I own a tarot deck that I've owned for maybe fifteen, twenty years. It’s certainly much older than that. I think that’s the oldest thing that I own, yeah. I would call it technology.

Do you use it in a technical fashion? It doesn’t read your e-mail, does it?

It reads my future Mike.

Which I guess is a kind of e-mail [laughs].

Yeah. Future e-mails, I guess. Yeah, [laughs]. The future is largely technical I feel, and therefore…

Technical more than technology.

Yeah, that’s true. I don’t know how technical it is. Look, I don’t know how tarot works. Alright, underneath the covers I don’t know. But what I do know is that I get a lot of technical information out of it. What I’m going to be doing, what my love life is going to be like.

How did you come into possession of the tarot deck?

I was given it by a family member who’s my aunt Agnes who has a lazy eye, ultimately became a glass eye. She’s believed to be psychic by most of my family but she’s really just a weird old woman. I don’t know if she had any powers, she didn't like technology, I know that. I caught her once hitting a VCR in my grandparents’ home. So that’s aunt Agnes, she gave it to me because you’re not meant to buy one for yourself, you’re meant to be given them. That’s the superstition from Scotland. So yeah, that’s where I got them from.

Another question from the student group. Danny asks: You’re corn from the cob. Why you not pop when boiled champ?

Is this my own question? [laughs] I think I asked this but my answer is ‘cause I have thought about this, is that you know like sometimes you gotta be you, alright? Not every caterpillar has to turn into a butterfly. Sometimes you just gotta be corn yo, if that’s your game.

Corn.

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  March 25, 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 Sophie Fernandes. Sophie performs on Harold Night team Dirt Squad, and directs and performs in the Improv Conspiracy's all-female Comedy Festival show Play Like A Girl.

Mike Brown: Hello Sophie, welcome.

Sophie Fernandes: Hello.

What's your favourite thing about improvising?

I think my favourite thing is been the fact that you get taken completely out of your head and I'm the sort of person that over-thinks everything or analyses everything and is anxious about everything, and so to be put in the position where you don't have the time for your brain to even process what's happening. It's just all instinctual which is really nice and I found that it could be quite a relaxing thing, even though...

It's incredibly stressful?

Your adrenaline is pumping. It's also relaxing in a way because you're not thinking about work or thinking about all the stuff you've gotta get done on the weekend, your sort of day-to-day life, yeah.

In your day-to-day life, are you the kind of person who will go over and over things before doing them? Because I found I was the same and that changed the more I did improv.

Yeah, I have found that I have been able to become more flexible. Particularly with work, because I work in events and that's something that you need to do is be prepared for anything to happen and not stress about it too much when it does, just go OK, this thing's happened now and I have to deal with it. And I found that both of those skills - my improv and my ability to deal with unpredictable circumstances has kind of increased at the same time. Which was, I guess it's not surprising when you look at it, oh yeah that makes sense [laughs].

It sort of seems like "where was this in my life all that time?!?"

Yeah. Because I am a huge control freak, and so you know I'm in a job where you have control to a point and then you have no control because anything can happen and it's not something that you're able to predict because it's relying on other people or the weather.

I know for me it used to be that constant thinking about "oh this is not right, oh this is so bad" and now it's like "let's throw something at the wall and try and make it work."

Yeah and just that rolling with the punches idea. I guess I've discovered that I'm a contrariety person where on the one hand I am just this huge control freak who has anxiety issues but I'm quite open and flexible to the possibility of anything happening. Which seems like a paradox [laughs], but...

They somehow work together, which is nice.

Yeah just enough! Sometimes one tips up over the other.

It's like those scales in court.

Yeah [laughs]. Those judge scales.

Ok, so. What do you do when you want to relax then? Apart from improv?

Oh I'm not very good at it, I'm not very good at relaxing [laughs], which I think is because I think I need to be busy all the time, and it's something that I've had to really work at, having real downtime where I don't, it doesn't have to be productive time, I don't have to be actually getting something done and kind of the way I look at it now which is probably wrong in it's own way, "this is productive in that I am resting". So I'll do the usual things like watch TV or listen to music, go for walks, hang out with my cat.

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  March 17, 2015

David Evans is a former Improv Conspiracy student and performer who moved to Sydney last year. Rather than come back and play with us, he wrote a fantastic article for our blog. We'll take it!

No one teaches you how to manage people. It’s not a skillset likely taught alongside your first job possibly folding jeans at the GAP, lifeguarding at the local pool or if like me, spending your summers scooping ice cream for hungry tourists. The skills that teach us how to inspire, instruct, trust, and motivate others is a talent that somehow gets lost in our current education system and absent from the majority of our professional development training. If you’re lucky, you work a job for a number of years, follow the rules set up by some senior team and wait for your time to crawl up the ladder. In the meantime you pick up the habits of your previous managers whether good or bad and typically adapt their methods on how to communicate information, lead others to success and how to support people through uncertainty during stressful times. It’s a continuous cycle and normally a broken one where the blind are left leading the blind.   

I’ve spent 12 years working in professional environments and found myself either at the mercy of really bad management or in the glow and awe of some brilliant ones. When I recently began to lead my own teams again I found myself unconsciously drawing upon my improv experiences and the lessons learned from performing Harolds again and again to help influence and strengthen my own people management skills. For anyone who’s taken improv classes or a weekend workshop you quite often hear about how the skills highlighted in those courses are applicable not only for the students who dream of one day being on SNL, but also for those who dream of being CEO. It soon became clear to me after aligning my personal management style with the principles of Improv, I became a much better manager. Within days there was a noticeable difference in the daily interactions of my team as people engaged with each other instead of hiding behind email. The overall mood in the studio seem to lighten as people slowed down and listened to each other. Productivity increased as individuals worked together to accomplish tasks instead of working independently. The changes were profound. 

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  March 16, 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 the super busy Mario Hannah. Mario performs on Harold Night team Endless Cash, directs Harold Night team Shake-A-Stick, and will be seen during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as part of Now Showing: The Improvised Movie and his sketch team Trillcumber.

Mario Hannah: You guys get comfortable, we're going all night.

Mike Brown: 24 hours. Hi Mario.

Hey Mike!

So how long have you been performing for, and how did you find yourself a member of The Improv Conspiracy?

I think this is, I just had my two year anniversary. I found Conspiracy just by googling it one day.

By googling improv?

Yeah I was looking for improv classes. I was at a point where I had been trying to do stand-up for about a year with just random open mic gigs, and it was going terribly, and I thought ahh this will help with my stand-up. I just googled classes and that was the first result that came up, and that's it.

Transitioning from stand-up to improv classes, with stand-up you're always chasing your own spots, you might not be performing for weeks due to their ad-hoc nature. How was it having weekly challenges to build on in classes?

That was one part of it - that regular routine that just kept you on star. The other thing was having an actually supportive community around you when doing something together. Stand-up can be a pretty isolated.

As soon as you've done your spot you can leave, you're done.

Yeah. I never really committed to it because you don't really have anything that you need to commit to. The other thing is that it's lonely writing in your room by yourself, with improv...

You develop together.

Whether it's training or performance you have that instant gratification which is always nice, of hearing people laugh or support you.

Growing up, what did your parents want you to be? What did you want me to be?

I don't think my parents really cared, they weren't very pushy. I always wanted to do something money-ish, like finance-y, like a stockbroker.

Or investment banker of some sort?

Yeah. When I was a kid I was obsessed with money for some reason. Mum said that I'd always ask questions like "Are we poor?"

[laughs]

I don't even know why! We were just a normal middle class family, but I just had this fear of being poor. I always had these ideas of things, some sort of money making person.

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  March 11, 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 Broni Lisle. Broni performs with Harold team Friends at the End, and will be seen during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as part of Now Showing: The Improvised Movie

Broni Lisle: Hello iPhone.

Mike Brown: Do you always introduce yourself to iPhones?

Well actually in Perth; Tim [Quabba], Ryan [Zorzut] and I were trying get Siri activated from my bed. It was hilarious.

Because when it's plugged in you can activate Siri with speech.

Yeah but from three meters away she's terrible. She'd be like "what is it?" and I'd say "Can you text Ryan and Tim," she'd be like "what do you want to say?" "Tell them-" "I'm sending tell them." It's like no I haven't finished! It was the worst, I got really mad actually.

Does technology steam you up?

[laughs] If it's that dumb. It's like, come on man.

You've gotten used to technology being so good.

Yeah! Yesterday I was listening to a podcast and the host said "Are you serious?" Siri activated herself.

[laughs]

And said "That's me!" I was like, "aw fuck you".

We'll see if we can get Siri activated during this, even if it's just me tapping on the phone.

[laughs]

What did you do today Broni?

Today I went to a friend's birthday in Croydon. That's where I grew up, around that area. There's a brewery out there, we had drinks, and he turned 26, so I gave him a hug-

And wished him a happy birthday.

Yeah and bailed to here.

For Sunday Night Improv Conspiracy.

Yeah I can't miss at least half of it. I'll miss half of it [laughs]. Then I'll probably go home, because you know when I'm not on stage, I don't want to be here. [laughs].

Oh wow that's going to read really well Broni. [laughs]

No no no! Put in my facial expressions! [laughter]

Laughter.

Happiness.

Someone smug. Smiley.

No I love watching everyone.

What's your favourite thing about improvising?

Freedom. The fleeting moments of it, 'cause I'm a songwriter as well and now since I've been doing improv so much I find it hard to commit my words to paper and/or recordings forever. Because it's like that means my opinion is there to be heard or read forever, and what if it changes? So improv for me is like, I can say anything at any time and it's like that's just that person at that time.

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