Neil Curran is what some may call a pioneer for improv in Ireland. He certainly is passionate about this interesting form of comedy. Not content with performing improv with his group, doing his one man show (which he has performed both here and abroad) and teaching his improv courses, he has now decided to put together an Improv Festival this November. Growing up in a theatre world he remembers always enjoying improv because you didn’t have to remember lines. Watching TV shows like “Whose line is it anyway” and even recording and re watching them and playing the games with friends the next day were his first steps in to the world of improv. “I formed No Drama, and then set up Laughalot improv – It was then that things really started to take off.” He started training in Ireland and continues to get inspiration from the likes of John Cremer and the Maydays from Brighton who he cites as one of his biggest influences.
So what makes him love improv so much? Well there are many answers to that questions according to Neil. “It’s such a challenging form of comedy. Improv can be useful in so many forms. People come to me to learn improv for many reasons. I’ve had businesses come to me to do workshops for team building.” It certainly is a different form of team building! “There’s also another side of improv that I love which is the variety of it. There is so much you can do with improv and I love that!”
Neil has travelled the world so how does improv differ across the globe? Well one difference he has noted is that there are a lot more improv groups outside of Ireland! He was recently in Shanghai where he was shocked to find that there is no “dirty” talk at all during his secrets game compared to if he was to do this in Ireland.
Even with Neil’s huge passion for improv, is Ireland’s improv scene big enough for its own festival? Neil certainly thinks so. There’s always festivals going on with near constant invites coming through on Facebook. Having seen the success of other festivals across the world, Neil has been inspired to make Ireland’s festival as big a success as it can be! “The interest from international acts has been amazing too”, he tells me. “There will be a good mix of local and international talent. The Irish scene has grown over the last while and hopefully the festival will give all the groups a good platform for that. We’ve had great support from both international and local acts and people really just wanting to be involved. It’s great.”
What can we expect? Well, according to Neil, we can expect some comedy from people who you wouldn’t normally expect to see comedy from? Ooooh the suspense….! “Yes, we have some celebrities doing a crash course in improv and then we will throw them on a stage and then get their thoughts on the experience”. That’s just one of the highlights of the festival. Other planned events include many international improv acts and, of course, our own home-grown local talent. There’s a further reason why this Festival is important to Neil he tells me, “It will raise much need funds for Crumlin Children’s Hospital where I spent time as a child which is a really cool thing to be able to do”
So with the festival a little bit away, Neil and his festival team have decided to give us a little taster of what to expect this coming Thursday in McGrattans Bar at 8pm where they are holding a fundraising gig for the Festival. All proceeds will go to helping put the festival together. On the night, they have the fabulous Tara Flynn opening the show, followed by a Comedy Improv Deathmatch involving members from a whole host of improv groups!
Sounds like a fun night out doesn’t it? Tickets are only €10 and can be bought on the door. There will be a treats and prizes too! 🙂 You can like the Improv Fest Facebook page here for more details of the gig and the upcoming festival. Make sure to stay tuned to here as I’ll keep you updated too! 🙂