Get ready for some jaw-dropping off-the cuff comedy in Eastbourne this month.
Brighton-based improv troupe, The Noise Next Door, are heading to St Luke’s Centre on Saturday, June 28 (7pm), as part of their latest tour.
The five lads – Tom Houghton, Charlie Granville, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Sam Pacelli – are known for their punchy, gag heavy style and have performed alongside comedians like Jason Manford, Al Murray and Harry Hill. They have also made successful appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Sketchorama, at Fracas! Improv Festival in California and even at Download heavy metal festival.
“We’re not there to push an agenda or anything like that,” says Sam Pacelli, when asked about the group’s style of comedy.
“It’s really energetic and really lively,” he continues, explaining that when the group started up, improv had a reputation for being somewhat “old school”, thanks to memorable programmes like Whose Line Is It Anyway?
“We wanted to bring a freshness and a kind of youthful glow, I guess, to improvising,” Sam explains. “But we’re also comedians above being improvisers, so we’re very intent on doing the funniest thing we can do.”
It’s certainly gone down well. The group has sold out six Edinburgh Festival runs to huge critical acclaim and dazzled audiences with their lightning fast, unscripted scenes and hilarious songs.
The group members met through a drama society at The University of Kent but, appropriately, never planned for an eventual career in improv comedy.
“There was an arts festival and a show pulled out two weeks before,” Sam explains. “So we were asked, as part of a drama society, to put on something.”
The performers felt it would be easier to try improv instead of learning a script at such short notice.
“We just copied Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Sam jokes. “We were all fans and just did the kind of games that they did and it took off. There were about 500-600 people at our first show, which is quite a large amount really.”
The lads made a name for themselves on campus and after university they moved to Shoreham, living together and performing live shows at The Ropetackle Arts Centre.
“That was hugely helpful in progressing, evolving and getting in front of regular audiences,” says Sam, explaining that the group made as many contacts as possible to draw people to their shows.
“It went from being a once or twice a season show to being every month,” he continues. “Then we started doing it a couple of times a month.”
The group eventually moved to Brighton because of the city’s renowned relationship to the arts, starting up regular comedy nights at The Brunswick and Upstairs at Three and Ten.
Nowadays, their regular comedy night takes place at The Komedia, a venue that Sam loves performing at. However, he’s even more enthusiastic about touring arts centres around the country.
“These arts centres are really lovely and intimate,” Sam explains. “The wonderful thing about these kind of gigs is that people know what to do, you know? They know it’s a bit more theatrical and they are there purely to be entertained and specifically to see us.”
He continues: “What that means is we can be a little more playful. In comedy clubs, you really have to do joke after joke and there’s very little storyline. You can take a little more time with stuff in your own show because people will give you more leeway.”
A story created during a standard comedy night will only last about four minutes, says Sam, but a story created in a tour show could last anything up to 15 minutes.
“You get a real sense of plot and of growing with these characters,” Sam explains. “You get a bit of morality and a little bit more emotion attached to the scene as you go and that’s what we really love doing and look forward to.”
So, is there any specific theme to the show?
“It’s just a whole load of short form games, really,” says Sam. “We just go out there to do some really funny stuff.
“We never know what any of the content will be but we know the structure of the game” he continues. “One of our new games is a kind of news show. We get people to write down news headlines – fictitious ones obviously – and then we do a news show about it, kind of like Question Time, or the news itself. When the tour comes up we try to think of these new little structures to give our fans something a little bit different to watch. Also, for ourselves, it’s nice to continually be as creative as possible.”
The lack of structure gives the boys an incredible amount of freedom but it means that the comedians have to read each other well.
“The challenge is to make sure you’re in tune with each other as much as possible to make it look even more magical,” says Sam. “It almost looks like you’re mind readers or you’re on exactly the same wavelength as somebody else. We’ve got really used to doing that. We all used to live together in a big house when we first started it. It was kind of like The Monkees. There was a massive house and all of us were together all of the time. Although that was exhausting mentally, I guess, to be living together, working together, socialising together, it really did strengthen that bond and I think it really shows on stage.”
Tickets for The Noise Next Door: The Noise Are Back In Town cost £10 (age 16 plus only). Call 07551 511366 or visit www.stlukescentre.com.
Log on to www.thenoisenextdoor.co.uk to find out more about the group.