How to form your own improv group
Where to form a group
At a course
Lots of our improv courses have performances at the end and many people stick together after a course and decide to form a group, either all of the course together or a couple of like minded people in a new group. We’re keen to encourage this so let us know if we can help.
At an improv networking event
We run a couple of improv networking events each year and they seem to be quite successful at connecting people together and forming new groups.
At improv jams
Getting out there and performing whenever you can at Hoopla’s jams is a good way of meeting fellow improvisers who are also interested in forming a group.
It’s quite normal in the improv scene for people to ask other people to be in a show with them, so just ask.
Where to perform
Number of people
Groups can be any size, we’ve seen anything from 1 person improv groups to 20.
Small numbers have the advantage that it’s a lot easier to administrate and get everyone at rehearsals, but we tend not to book in groups of just 1 or 2 people so we’d recommend having more than 2.
Larger groups have the advantage that you can cover most show bookings and there is a lot more energy to the group, but they can be hard to organise due to differing levels of commitment and creative differences.
The most popular improv group size seems to be around 5 or 6 people.
Levels of commitment
The biggest challenge facing groups is different levels for commitment. It is therefore worth agreeing as a group what your expectations are, creative aims and rehearsal times before starting work on the show.
Ongoing vs Short Run
Some groups decide to run ongoing, with rehearsals and shows on a regular basis. This has the advantage that the group get to know each other and develop the show over the time. The disadvantage is that often the group ends up dissolving over time due to creative differences or different levels of commitment.
Another option is to do a theatre style short run, with the group meeting for a set number of rehearsals, doing a set number of shows, and then ending. This has the advantage that it’s easier to agree levels of commitment and creative vision before starting, and you get to end on a high rather than fizzling out. It also gives people a chance to try out different ways of working and shows instead of being stuck with one.
Most groups rehearse about once a week, although if you can do more that’s great too. Building up to a big festival or similar groups often try and do a couple of weeks of more intense rehearsals. The more you rehearse and get to know each other the better.
Directing and Coaching
If possible we suggest having someone directing the group who is not then performing in the shows, as it’s helpful to have an outside eye and is also helpful to have someone to unite the group together in one creative vision.
If you don’t have someone in your group who fancies doing that we can recommend a selection of improv coaches.
Running Your Own Night
Running your own night means you get to perform when you want on your terms to your audience, and learn loads. It’s awesome. Find a room above a pub, or book a small fringe theatre, rehearse a show, invite people along and go for it!
Running your own night and putting your own show is when you really learn and find who you are as a performer.
London is blessed with spaces to perform, so find a space you like and book it in, develop an awesome show, promote it, perform it, repeat. We’d also recommend booking in an awesome guest act each time too, as it keeps it different for returning audience.
Promoting Your Show
To come to your show people have to know about it in advance, and they have to want to come, and then they need to have a reminder. Here are some other tips:
Why would anybody want to come and see your show?
Ask yourself this question. If you don’t know the answer you haven’t thought about the audience, so why should they think about you? Answers to this question could be: it’s really funny, it’s new, it’s exciting, it’s a party, it’s good, it’s got a fun guest, they like the genre, they’ve heard good things.
What is your show?
What is it? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Yes I know it’s improvised, but there are loads of different types of improvised. How would you describe your show in one line, title and image?
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience member, from when they first hear about the show, decide to go, travel to it, arrive, see it, leave. What was that experience like and how can you make it better?
Who are the audience?
Who do you want coming to your show? What do they expect? What do they want? What do they need?
Three Months, 1 Month, 1 Week, 1 Day, Day
For lots of people to see a show they need to hear about it in different ways (flyers, posters, web, fbook, email twitter, word of mouth etc) at least 3 months before, 1 month before, 1 week before, day before, then on the day.
There’s nothing wrong with friends and family as audience
This is a great start, what a positive thing to do in life, get together to entertain friends and family. And it’s a great beginning. Friends who like the show lead to Friends of Friends and then Friends of Friends of Friends, which is otherwise known as ‘The Public’.
Promoting shows is hard work. If you don’t do anything there won’t be anybody there, because they don’t know about it. If you do lots, there will be more people there. It takes ages listing shows with press and all the listings websites, up to you if you do it. Nobody said that being a successful performer is easy.
Make a quality show
This is the best marketing tool out there. So many people (me included) spend ages getting a website, facebook group, twitter, logo and then barely rehearse and the show is not great. Better off spending that time making an awesome show, that’s the best marketing you can have. If your show is amazing people will hear about it eventually, and more people will come.
Every audience is important
You’ve just started out, just about to go on stage, and realise that only 5 people are in the audience. Don’t be disappointed that only 5 people turned up, be over the moon that 5 real life humans have come to watch. Give them the best show ever. Those 5 people tell 10 people at work the next day about what a great night they had and your audience has gone up to 55 over night. It’s the same show for them anyway, and actually they get a better view. Make it special for them.
Workshops are the start not the end
Our courses are designed to kick start people into performing and inspire them to do more. End of course shows could be the start of your improv and performing, not the end of it.
Don’t ask for permission
As Mark Beltzman (great improv teacher from USA) said, don’t give your creative energy away to anyone. Don’t rely on teachers, directors, producers, agents, promoters. Don’t wait. Don’t ask for permission to do what you want to do. Just do it. Now.
Other helpful things for forming your own group
Also please contact us if you want any help forming your own group. We have a producer employed to help support our students with performing opportunities.