Irish Times writers Laurence Mackin and Patrick Freyne wanted to learn about the secret behind Improv Comedy. Maybe they should also have brought along star actor Liam Neeson!
To find out more for the Irish Times podcast ‘Off Topic’ they asked improv teacher and performer Neil Curran, comedian Alison Spittle and actor Danny Kehoe what is required.
Alison talks about her performing a riff on “jellyfish complaints” which she is currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She describes it as “the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life. With improv, the relationship between the audience and the performer is very important. They have to trust you. Once you get your first laugh there is a contract of trust there and you can go whatever way you like, and they trust there will be a laugh at the end.”
The first thing Danny teaches is do not try to be funny. “I liken it to the person at the party. We’ve all been at a party where there’s someone trying to be funny. And what happens is you avoid that person like the plague, don’t you? Because they’re just trying to be funny, you’re not really there, you’re not listening. It’s just waiting till they stop talking, till it’s my turn to say something.”
Curran agrees. “It’s meant to be an egoless art form. We’re there to serve the team and the show as opposed to serve ourselves. As an improviser you spot someone who’s going for the gag straight away.”
Did you know that Liam Neeson wants to do ‘improv’? Here he is trying to impress other funny men!