The Impro Chums are the same as ever – Suki Webster, Richard Vranch, Lee Simpson, Mike McShane and, of course, Paul Merton. It’s good to see the familiar format too.
I’d even suggest it helps to know about reoccurring gags. The comedians generally try and die in the final, Shakespeare style, improvised scene. On Friday only Merton and McShane managed to get themselves stabbed by an imaginary sword. Knowing the joke explains why Webster tried to resurrect the dead Paul Merton live on stage.
Audience interaction is limited with the Impro Chums. This is good. They do ask you to shout out scenes, ideas and styles. They may also get you (while you’re in the queue) to write a scenario down on a scrap of paper for the chance of it being pulled out of a bucket and acted on by the team. With this in mind the quality of the audience actually impacts the show. It’s not easy shouting out alternative and interesting scenes for the group to improvise.
The hour long show felt far shorter than it really was. The first routine, where they tell a story on the fly and respond to being pointed at, may have gone on the longest. I rather felt there wasn’t enough time for the best of the rest. There must have been a half dozen or so separate routines and games played in the hour.
I think the most significant wildcard in any Impro Chum show is the singing. It happens. Richard Vranch is a master on the piano and as it happens there’s some capable singers in the troop. We even had Suki Webster whisk up an opera from out of nowhere. We lucked out and each song kinda worked out.
We attended the penultimate show of the 2014 run. In hindsight that was a poor choice. It didn’t have the extra oomph that the final show has and the team didn’t really have the energy of some of the earlier shows. No wonder; it must be tiring running around professionally under the baking lights.