In this blog, we spoke to Helen, one of the acts performing at the Improv Double Bill this Friday! We discussed their group, recent developments and the home delivery improv service.
1. Tells us a bit about your group, how and when did you form?
I think we formed in 2018. Me (Joe Coles) and Hubert McIntyre — who had been performing a lot together — were walking by the fountains in town, we’d long wanted to work with Helen Herman but weren’t sure she’s be up for it. We loved her unpredictable emotional performances and the way she acts with her whole body on stage. She does everything with crazy huge commitment and her performances are always thrilling. We saw her at the traffic lights and I asked her and she said yes. We kind of liked the idea of a gang-like initiation ritual to kick the whole thing off. So before we started we had to do a particular dare that I won’t detail. It was pretty full-on and certainly pushed my personal boundaries…we all did it, and I’m glad but I don’t think I’d do it again in a hurry! We do not condone autassassinophilia.
2. What can we expect from your performance in terms of form and style?
That’s a great question. We’d had great experiences in other teams and projects but all felt like the emphasis was sometimes too much on the format and arbitrary rules — and that approach didn’t always work for us. It tangled us up and we wanted to just strip away as much of that as possible. Now we just feel our way through — and we’re pleased with the result. It relies on trust and chemistry. Our style is sometimes quite naturalistic, sometimes very nasty and sometimes very silly.
3. You recently were a finalist in Improv Cagematch, what did you learn from that experience?
I’m not sure if I learned anything specifically. Felt more disappointed than I expected to get knocked out in the finals! The competitive element was just a nice marketing angle but it’s hard not internalise it a little bit. Guess I always relearn the dangers of ‘gags’ – if you try and be funny in a smart way, you run the risk of looking smug and then feel bad if the joke falls on its arse. Picking yourself up and carrying on after a duff joke is important. Onstage panic is best countered by increased commitment I think.
4. You have mentioned you were the pioneer of the home delivery improv service, what is that?
We go to people’s homes. Perform in their front room, sometimes to audiences as small as one — and then leave. We loved the idea of a home delivery service that could come and disrupt your evening. The fact it is in the audience’s home adds to its oddness, as does the audience/performer ratio. Contact us via facebook to arrange a HELEN Home Delivery.
5. What are you most look forward to doing on the night of the show?
I hope the Gods will be on our side and it will flow beautifully. We love the Bristol Improv Theatre and are looking forward to being there, it’s a very special place and the heart of a genuine community.
Helen will be performing at the Improv Double Bill on Friday 10th January. Tickets are £7 and can be purchased here.