Improv Round-Up

This article is from 2009

Improv Round-Up

Noise Next Door

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 necessarily from the pros. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket to Paul Merton’s Impro Chums (**) and you might find you're paying for the name rather than a comedic fortress.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical
(***) is another high-octane act, but while the dancing is smooth and the musical repertoire extensive, they probably score lower on actual pizzazz and ability to dream up an unhackneyed storyline than the relatively unpolished Lights! Camera! Improvise! (***), who manage to cobble together an extremely credible film in their 50 minutes.

Of course, and as every impro compere will remind you, each day and each show is different, and on this directive, it's possible that I just caught the Oxford Imps (*)on an off-day. It was, unfortunately, a horrendous one which resulted in them blowing the whistle and running off stage before any sense of closure had been reached. At times like that you start to long for a taut structure like that of The Noise Next Door (****), whose extremely well thought-out central concept (to create a brand new world every night) leaves them plenty of space for controlled ingenuity and a genuinely enjoyable performance.

The most receptive improv audiences are almost without exception those of the further reaches of the evening. If you have a bent for geeky, gawky humour then several members of Shambles (***) are really, genuinely funny. One of their viewers ended up with chest bare, posing as Jordan for holiday snaps. But then, it's only as fun as you, the audience, make it.

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Oxford Imps

After six years of sell-out shows, Oxford's improv comedy troupe hits Edinburgh again! With only audience suggestions, the Imps create a 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' style comic show on the spot. Family friendly.

Paul Merton's Impro Chums

Paul and his Impro Chums are wonders of nature, taking audience suggestions and creating cascades of laughter. Most of the time. 'Every year [they] bring the house down... a testimony to their brilliance and consistency' (Mirror).

Noise Next Door: OtherWorld

A new future, a new horizon… Welcome to OtherWorld! Audience suggestions are transformed into fantastically funny improvised scenes and songs, creating a brand new world every night. You make the rules. You write history. And you watch the map of your unpredictable civilisation as it unfolds before your very eyes. The…

Lights! Camera! Improvise!

You make up three movie titles. We improvise three trailers. You pick which one you want to watch and we create the whole thing before your very eyes. Watch as we generate awesome stories, epic scenes and a thrilling, live movie score, all 100% made up on the spot! Your ideas will be instantly woven into a brilliant…

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

New musical improvised nightly. Audience suggestions collide with the inspired comic imaginings of an all-singing, all-dancing cast. Sell-out 2008. 'Must be seen to be believed' (Time Out - Critics' Choice). 'Just sublime' (Scotsman).


The Shambles are an improvised comedy troupe of outlandish wisecrackers and pratfallers, producing made-to-measure hilarity for any audience. This irreverent and eclectic mix of performers won't just tickle your funny bone, but snap it in two. Let the Shambles smother you in improvised sketches, all based on your…

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