Knowing Smirk is an improv group from Cheltenham. They offer an eclectic mix of performers and a promise to make you question their psychological stability. Broadway Baby has a chat.
We also had to work out the logistics of taking a three month old baby with us. But luckily she is our biggest fan. Last writers’ room she thought we were so funny she wet herself.
Tell us about your show
Knowing Smirk is a Comedy improv and sketch show from the deep dark recesses of Cheltenham. The show is run by Second City Graduate Frances Morrow Brown who joins a cast of Salome Ash, Sal Drummond, Rob Leonard, Eddie O’Keeffe and Joy-Amy Wigman. With a mixture of written sketches and funnies made up on the spot you never quite know what you’re going to get. Although you can be reasonably sure that it will be highly inappropriate and you may go to hell for laughing at it.
Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?
It was a very sudden decision! About two hours before one of our shows, cast member and writer Sal Drummond sent us all a message saying “Have we ever thought about taking the show to Edinburgh?” By the time the show was over that night we were set! The Space seemed like the perfect setting for the show. It’s intimate, it’s fire proof and it’s seven floors up so the audience can’t escape. NB: There is a lift. You don’t have to be “insert your favourite sports person here” to come and see us.
What makes your show unique amongst the thousands of others at the festival?
What makes us unique is our cast. We aren’t people who have met in a social situation and decided to bring a comedy show to the fringe. We are disparate. We are all different ages from 20s to *coughs* 40s, everyone’s day jobs are very different, we have engineers, a performance poet, a counsellor, a woman struggling with large amounts of baby poo… What I’m saying is that we take our comedy from so many different places that there is something in there for everyone to relate to. Some of us write pathos, some film noir, some write sketches about personified vegetables. Plus, because the improv side of the show comes from what the audience gives us, the show is designed around them. So basically it makes them feel special.
How did you create your show?
Our Edinburgh show is based on the monthly comedy show that we do in Cheltenham. So each month we have an improv workshop and from the ridiculous ideas in that workshop, we write delicious sketches. After that we do a writers room, so we pull the scripts apart, make the writer cry, give them a donut and put it back together again, but funnier. Then we direct the sketches, decide what improv games we want to do et voila, we have the basis for a show.
Our Cheltenham show is normally two hours long including the interval so the Edinburgh show is a condensed version with different sketches every other night. This particular show contains some of our favourite Knowing Smirk sketches from the past year. Seeing them will probably tell you something about our psychological stability.
What has been the biggest challenge in getting your show ready for Edinburgh?
The biggest challenge has probably been trying to organize an Edinburgh show whilst still doing a monthly show in Cheltenham. Finding the time for all of us to get together and do the admin bits and bobs when we need to be writing or learning lines or playing Lego Jurassic Park has been tricky. Luckily, Salome loves a spreadsheet and is excellent at making cake so that made the process a little easier. We also had to work out the logistics of taking a three month old baby with us. But luckily she is our biggest fan. Last writers’ room she thought we were so funny she wet herself.
Can you tell us a bit about your company’s background?
A few years ago our fabulous founder, Frances Morrow Brown, enrolled on a comedy improv course run by another cast member, Joy-Amy Wigman. Joy-Amy had been performing in an improv show for the past five years and liked to boss others around. This gave Frances the total improv bug and she high tailed it over to Chicago to study sketch writing and improv at the famous Second City Theatre. By the time she got back she had made up her mind that what Cheltenham needed was a comedy show. A comedy show run by someone with fabulous hair and her own YouTube channel (youtube.com/tinybag if you’re that way inclined).
So with the help of her trusty Will Riker (Joy-Amy) she set up a workshop to find the best cast of misfits in Gloucestershire. And lo, Knowing Smirk was born.
Knowing Smirk has built a solid local following, with audiences looking forward to games such as “Was that a cat?”,” Stop! Hammertime!” and “What the f**k is that?!”
If you want to find out a bit more about the cast you can head over to www.knowingsmirk.com, or find us on facebook.com/knowingsmirk or follow us on twitter @Knowing_smirk.
Show Name: The Knowing Smirk Comedy Show
Production Company: Knowing Smirk for Tiny Bag Productions
Venue: The Space @ Jury’s Inn
Dates: 11th – 15th August 2015
Times: 7.15 – 8pm
Twitter Handle @knowing_smirk