Improvised comedy is best associated with the popular TV show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which has been on air for several seasons. But what many don’t know is that for the last year-and-a-half a talented group of comedians have been performing gigs on similar lines in the city. And to make the most of April 1, Improv Comedy Mumbai is taking to stage for an April Fools’ Day special show.
The city’s first gang that functions entirely on improvisation consists of 11 eclectic comics, who were brought together by theatre professional, Adam Dow.
The group is a mix of drama teachers, college students and full-time actors, most of who were spotted in a workshop conducted by Dow a few years ago. He invited some of the students to be part of the act, and a few others joined at random.
Says Shaun Williams, one of the comedians, “Even the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? was put together from various improvisational groups. We have a set of games — some of them are similar, and some entirely different.”
For April Fools’ Day, Improv Comedy Mumbai has been working hard to ‘up their game’. “We performed at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in February, and since then, we’ve been underground. We’re eager to try out new stuff,” adds Shaun. All their performances begin with a suggestion made by an audience member. The group then takes the subject, and enacts the situation.
However, they have not had it easy. When they started out in December 2009, they didn’t have much support. “Zenzi Mills, which is now shut, was one of the only venues that agreed to host us. Even the Bombay Elektrik Project has worked very hard to promote alternate entertainment. We among many other artistes, who have emerged in the last few years, owe them a lot,” recalls Shaun, and Dow agrees. “It’s all about taking what is given to you and making something beautiful out of it,” he says, adding that he’d like to see more and more people take up this form of comedy in India.