There’s a simple golden rule in improv, reckons Sam Pacelli who heads to Brighton with The Noise Next Door (The Komedia, Thursday, May 11).
“Just agree and keep going!” Sam laughs – and it’s a principle which has stood the company in good stead down the years.
As Sam says, the audience know that the performers don’t know what they are going to say next. It’s all in response to audience suggestions; and there’s inevitably an anarchic element.
But you’ve just got to keep going…
This year sees the group embark on their fourth nationwide tour, Uproar!.
Nine-time sell-out veterans of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and one of the most sought-after headline acts on the comedy circuit, The Noise Next Door are Charlie Granville, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Sam Pacelli. They have been performing their own distinctive brand of off-the-cuff comedy since meeting at university.
Taking audience suggestions, the quartet transform them into fantastically-funny scenes and songs in the blink of an eye, with a blend of ludicrous characters, witty one-liners, epic stories and explosive physicality.
“It’s a fun challenge. I have been doing it for so long that it is almost second nature. There are techniques and ways of doing it. For me, and I guess for the others, the really scary thing would be to be given a script because that way you would be forced to do and say something and you would have to remember to say it and do it. With improv, you are completely free to say anything.
“I used to do stand-up, and if something fails as a stand-up, it is just down to you. If something bombs, then there is just no one else to get you out of the situation, but with improv and with The Noise Next Door, there is always someone to get you out of trouble. If you say something that is rubbish, someone else will just pick up and carry on. Either that or they will really rinse you for what you have just said. They will say ‘Well, that was rubbish’ or whatever, and you just laugh about it. You have got to acknowledge it. You have got to be self-deprecating. It is OK to fail, but it is important to fail with style!”
Also important is to gauge the audience and react accordingly. For Worthing, they are playing at the family-friendly Matt’s Comedy Club – and the family-friendliness is something they will comfortably take in their stride.
The company came together at the University of Kent where the company – Tom Houghton, Charlie Granville, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Sam Pacelli – were four drama students and a film student. They mimicked Whose Line Is It Anyway? for a gig; it went well; and they were asked to do more.
Initially, there were around a dozen of them – necessary because of other commitments.
“But there were the five of us as core members that organised most of the stuff, and we realised that things worked best when there were three or four of us there, and when we decided to make a go of it, we took the brutal decision that it would be just the five of us.”
As for the title, it happened naturally.
“Three of the guys lived together, and we used to practice there, making quite a racket, and the poor, poor neighbours were very understanding of our work. The lady worked at the theatre where we did a lot of gigs. But it would get to two o’clock in the morning, and she would be saying ‘I really, really need some sleep now’. We were talking about it, and we were just playing around with names, and so we became The Noise Next Door.”
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