Improv

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Impractical Jokers bring 'Cranjis McBasketball' show to UK, get presale tickets

7 Feb 2019

Professional pranksters take to the stage in Birmingham, Newcastle, Cardiff, Glasgow and more

Joseph 'Joe' Gatto, James 'Murr' Murray, Brian 'Q' Quinn, and Salvatore 'Sal' Vulcano or, as you may know them, The Tenderloins are the stars of hit reality TV programme Impractical Jokers.

Ubuntu Music Series: 'The overall concept is to put together musicians who will play pieces and freely improvise'

8 Oct 2018

Saxophonist Ntshuks Bonga discusses what to expect from the series of improvised and contemporary music

Ubuntu Music Series is the latest addition to Glasgow's flourishing improvised music scene. Taking place at the Old Hairdressers, it's the brainchild of saxophonist Ntshuks Bonga. 'Ubuntu translates to humanity, in all its meanings,' explains Bonga.

Nathan Lang: The Stuntman

6 Aug 20183 stars

A divertingly silly hour of physical japes

Part stunt show, part surrealist clowning act, Nathan Lang's frenetic hour features him as the stuntman of the title and a whole host of supporting characters. The framing narrative (although that's a pretty grandiose term for this raucous grab-bag of…

Peter Michael Marino: Show Up

6 Aug 20183 stars

Loveable solo improv that's cut with sadness

Peter Michael Marino's Show Up is a dizzying and intimate hour of improvisation and audience participation that touches on heavy subjects like social anxiety, personal journeys and failure. The premise of the show is based on a belief that if you show…

Shhh: An Improvised Silent Movie

6 Aug 20182 stars

An underplayed and occasionally unpleasant improv show

One of the joys of watching a successful improvised show is the feeling (however misplaced) of co-authorship. It's a special kind of alchemy when the audience's disparate suggestions coalesce, thanks to the professionals on stage, into a unique…

Studio 9

22 Aug 20172 stars

A limp and obvious series of sketches and characters from Cambridge duo

There will always be people who flinch at the very mention of the word 'Footlights'. For them, it conjures up images of privilege, posturing and comedy that is way too clever by half. Yet, the now mainstream likes of Mark Watson, Tim Key and Simon Bird…

The Bear Pack

21 Aug 20174 stars

A unique improv experience from a duo brimful of comedic chemistry

Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie have got it in spades. The exact shape and form that their particular type of magic will take depends totally on the night; every show is entirely improvised, but the chances are it'll be very good. They're an improv…

Ten of the best Edinburgh Fringe comedy shows that aren't stand-up

2 Aug 2017

There's a huge wealth of improv, sketch and character comedy to enjoy at this year's Fringe

Stand-up comedy shows tend to get the most attention at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but that shouldn't always be the case. Edinburgh has also played host to some of the most famous proponents of sketch, character and improv comedy, including The…

The Beau Zeaux: An Improvised Comedy

25 Aug 20153 stars

An impressive but occasionally sluggish improvised play

It's always tricky to make improv entertaining, particularly the long-form variety that has led many an amateur troupe to wander off into the terrain of in-jokes, mass confusion and utter nonsense. However this group are no rookies, with a line-up…

Austentatious: An Improvised Novel

10 Aug 20144 stars

A cannily entertaining period improv show in the style of Jane Austen

Plenty of improv, particularly long-form like this, easily becomes meandering and flabby if you take it on a journey where literally anything can happen. But they're a canny lot Austentatious: not only does performing improv in the style of Jane Austen…

What Does The Title Matter Anyway?

10 Aug 20143 stars

A sentimental journey into improv from team behind 90s TV show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Last year, a new series of the 1990s comedy fixture Whose Line is it Anyway? was commissioned. This year, either the cast have reunited to recreate the magic or several aging comedians are throwing themselves about (fragile hips be-damned) to emulate a…

Fred Frith, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell with BBC SSO - City Halls, Glasgow, Sat 22 Feb 2014

25 Feb 20144 stars

Veterans of free improvised music collaborate with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The idea of free improvised music appearing as part of a BBC SSO programme would have been unthinkable a decade ago except as a passing novelty. Such has been the landscape-changing effect of left-leaning music festivals in Scotland, from Free RadiCCAls…

Family tree: The Glasgow and Edinburgh experimental, weirdo and improv scene

24 Feb 2014

Mapping out the local music scene in Scotland, one sub-genre at a time

Glasgow improv crew, Eight Thumbs play Summerhall this month. They’re one of many Scottish acts with fingers in many musical pies, sharing their talents among various projects (7VWWVW, Isshko Taiko Drummers, Asparagus Piss Raindrop, to name a few.) But…

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra & George Lewis - Artificial Life 2007

5 Dec 20133 stars

2012 recording of piece by innovative US trombonist

This new version of George Lewis’s Artificial Life 2007 was recorded at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra’s tenth-anniversary festival in 2012. The innovative US trombonist and composer’s score is a set of instructions, presented graphically on a grid…

Land of Kush - The Big Mango

18 Sep 20133 stars

Montreal improv musicians' portrait of Cairo is a cultural patchwork

Sam Shalabi’s third album with Land of Kush is a portrait of Cairo (the titular large succulent fruit in question), specifically ‘the beautiful, surreal madness of the city… as joyous, horrific, historical events were unfolding’. His canvas is an…

The Noise Next Door: Soundhouse

5 Aug 20133 stars

Five-man improv juggernaut are good fun and infectious

The five-man improv juggernaut host, look after and perform at a haphazard variety club – the Soundhouse. The staff are obsessed with elephants or half woman, half buffalo (that’ll be your audience suggestions kicking in) while the performers…

Ames Room - City Halls, Glasgow, Sat 29 Jun 2013

16 Jul 20134 stars

The constructivist free jazz quartet deliver a thrilling set as part of Glasgow Jazz Festival 2013

An Ames Room is built to look cuboid when it is in fact trapezoidal. It's an apt metaphor for this Franco-Australian trio's relationship to free jazz. The Ames Room arrange their parts in what at first seems quite a regular fashion, with the rhythm…

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra/Barry Guy/Edwin Morgan - Schweben

18 Dec 2012

Celebration of Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's radical vision

With his brilliant Scots translations of the Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, Edwin Morgan sought to bring the spirit of the pre-war avant-garde to 1960s Scotland. Barry Guy and GIO celebrate his radical vision, using Mayakovsky’s Futurist…

Their Finest Hour - The Noise Next Door interview

26 Jul 2011

Lean and hungry improv machine 2011 Edinburgh Fringe

‘Edinburgh audiences push you a bit more and they challenge you because they’re generally more intelligent.’ Sam Pacelli, one-fifth of improv troupe The Noise Next Door, clearly hasn’t performed at one of the Fringe’s more salacious late-night venues.

Big Society: The Musical

27 Aug 20104 stars

It’s actually rather heartening, in the current climate, to watch a London-based company not only tackling the ConDem government’s agenda of cuts head-on, but also managing to set an entire musical in a working class district of Newcastle without…

The A Band

25 Aug 2010

Broken toys make music in a back garden

In the front room of a rough and not very ready shop-front, a man is reading the classic cut-ups of William Burroughs Nova Express by way of that day’s Metro into a microphone while two or three people manipulate a chaos of kids toys and old radios on…

Showstopper: The Improvised Musical

19 Aug 2010

Our Fringe reviewer explains what it’s like to be part of the show.

As a critic, I favour stealth and subtlety. Get in quickly, do not sit in the front row or anywhere else where the cast can see your notebook, and sneak out the back during the curtain call. I certainly don’t usually sit on stage, with the director…

Guest Who?

15 Aug 2010

If you’re a fan of am-dram, this could be for you. Guest Who takes the form of a ‘who’s-line-is-it-anyway’ call-and-response set-up, with cleverly constructed songs made-up on the spot by the regular team of five theatrical darlings using inspiration…

Improv Round-Up

20 Aug 2009

Seasoned pros come up short in the improv game

As a genre, improvised comedy has an innate disposition to failed jokes and constant changes of direction, so if you’re after a belly-laugh you have to be prepared to keep up and gloss over the cracks. The best improv shows on the Fringe aren’t…

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra - GIOpoetics

25 Jun 20093 stars

(Creative Sources) The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra continue their determined exploration of the complex dynamics of free improvisation using a very large ensemble. For this latest chapter, the regular GIO line-up is augmented by Portuguese…