How improv added (more) silliness and creativity to Mikey Richard’s life

On a spring evening in Post Malone, Port Mahon on Cowley Road I had a beer with some colleagues from my new coworking space, scouting the room for someone I could connect with. Well, you know how sometimes you instantly know some people are your kind of people? This was the case with Bella and her husband Mikey. I quickly decided they were my new favourite people in Oxford.

I learned that Mikey was into improv theatre, which probably explained why I felt like we needed our own sitcom show when we were talking through the night.

If you don’t know what improv is, you have been missing out; it is improvised acting where nothing is planned and anything can happen, so hilariousness ensues. I have personally only seen improv theatre on stage, but Mikey is part of an improv group that meets up every Wednesday. I decided to find out more:

How did you end up doing improv?

I first came across improv when I moved to Liverpool in 2015. I was in a new country and a new city and was looking for ways to make friends and meet people while doing something fun. Before joining my first improv meetup i’m pretty sure that 100% of my exposure to improv theatre had been from the show Who’s Line is it Anyway. I always admired the quick thinking, ridiculous characters and general silliness that the show’s cast seems to pull out of thin air.

I first stumbled across Liverpool Comedy improv run by the fabulous Emma Bird on Meetup, and without a second thought, put my name down for their next monday evening session. When the day came, I started to feel reeeeally nervous about the whole thing and ended up chickening out. This happened repeatedly for about a month of mondays, and the longer I put it off the less chance I gave myself of actually ever going through with it. I finally managed to muster up the courage and put one foot in front of the other until I found myself in the function room of a pub with Emma and the group. And the rest, as they say.. is history! Heh

5 years and countless laughs later I can honestly say that I consider improv comedy to be my favorite hobby. I’ve moved cities, moved groups and everywhere I go I’ve met weird, wonderful and downright amaing people who are now all part of my big dysfunctional improv family.

What you typically do on a normal night with your improv group?

A normal ngiht at Improv usually consists of a warm up period. These can be some simple exercises or word games to help get you out of your head, shake your nervousness and get your creativity flowing. This usually then gives way to some “short form” games in which volunteers can act out short scenes or characters with a partner. Finally the session usually progresses towards a “long or longer form” game where two or more participants work together to create a story out of several scenes one after the other.

How do you think improv helps you develop as a person, and your creativity?

I have found that Improv has helped me in a multitude of ways across my personal and professional life.

At work i’m often required to speak or present to high profile medical professionals, and not coming from a medical background myself that can be pretty darn intimidating! Over the years. I’ve found that improv is a great outlet to blow off steam before big meetings or events and helps take you mind off whats been eating at it. Generally it is also a great reminder to not take life too seriously, gain confidence in your ability to deal with all sorts of characters and situations and finally, to just say yes to most of the crazy shit that life throws at you.

What would you say to someone who is scared of trying improv?

The most important to know about the Comedy Improv experience is that you are never alone, no matter what little game, scenario or scene is being played, you always have someone next to you who will folow your lead and have your back and who’s whole exsistance revolves around helping you through the experience. This is not stand up, there is no audience! You are all in this together and EVERYONE is going to be on stage at some point or another.

Do you need any experience to try it?

Absolutely not. I hadn’t done a day of acting or comedy in my life before i walked into that pub in Liverpool. You just need to know how to say yes, and all the rest comes naturally. Seriously.. just try it!

What have you missed about it during lockdown?

I miss being in a room with other improvisers. The “Whiskey for breakfast” improv team that I’m a part of here in Oxford has been meeting up online weekly for a couple hours each session to get our weekly fix of improv goodness. But that is no substitute to being in a room together having fun without lag or bad mics!

Are you interested in trying? Here are some Facebook pages you can check out for performances and workshop once lockdown ends:

Whiskey for Breakfast
Awkward Actors
Three Things Theatre

Anita Marie Myrvang
Author: Anita Marie Myrvang

Founder of Creative Oxford, 2D/3D-illustrator and graphic designer at Frekt Design and weird brain behind the comic series About Last Night. More is more when it comes to colors, patterns, people, crazy ideas, collabs and office dogs.

One Comment

  1. Mikey Richard

    Thanks Anita 🙂 great work on the site

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