Live Review: Extreme Improv

extreme improv index
The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town, London, 01/08/2019.

I’ve seen a fair amount of improv over the years but lately 99% of it has been of the longform variety, where after being given a set up and perhaps a title a full length play is improvised. It’s my preferred type of the form as sometimes improv nights where the comedians play a number of different games can be a bit exhausting, and tiresome, especially if those involved aren’t always that great, and unfortunately that proved to be the case tonight.

There were nine comedians taking part tonight but unfortunately only four of them were actually funny, and even then they weren’t particularly consistent, which was a big problem considering the amount of time the ones who did make me laugh weren’t on stage. Perhaps it was down to inexperience or maybe they were just having a bit of an off night, but when over half of the comedians failed to impress you have to wonder why that might be and whether or not improv is something they should stick with.

The games were fairly bland too, this was supposedly “Extreme Improv” but there wasn’t much here that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. So there was one game where they had to start a sentence with a letter of the alphabet and then the next comic began one with the following letter, and even when they did that backwards, and then following the QWERTY keyboard layout (that being the extreme part apparently) while they mostly followed the rules they didn’t do anything that amusing with it.

There was also a game where they had to involve a body part chosen by an audience member which was depressingly average, the physical comedy side of things just about passed the muster but once again their choice of word play let them down, and the same applied with a bit where they mimicked a monologue given by one of them at the beginning. Another game saw them having to mostly say words beginning with one particular letter which was one of the better parts of the evening, but even that didn’t go anywhere that interesting, and one of the more talented comics was hamstrung by having to use the letter Z.

Now I’m aware this review is a little harsh, but that’s partially due to the final part of the evening where they had to impersonate famous fictional characters, once again chosen by the audience, and act out a particular thing, but half of the time they didn’t even know the suggested character and just couldn’t be arsed, and that’s pretty unforgivable given that it was performed in front of a paying audience. To be fair there was a couple of occasionally amusing moments, including an impersonation of Macbeth on the moon which generated a lot of laughter, but overall it felt like shockingly lazy stuff.

Across the whole of the evening there was also way too much shouting and desperation to be heard, and this was clearly an improv team who hadn’t learnt to listen to each other, who hadn’t realised that it’s often far funnier if you support your team mate rather than to always try to out do them. Maybe they’ll improve over time but right now this isn’t worthy of your time or money, as it was one of the weakest hours of comedy I’ve seen in a fair old while.

★ 1/2

Alex Finch.
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