Lights! Camera! Improvise!
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 16th Aug 2009
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  • ★★★★★

The term ‘improv comedy’ is usually enough to have me, and any number of reviewers I know in Edinburgh, making excuses and running for the exit. Not that it’s all bad, but that the quality can be rather variable, difficult to review and there’s an awful lot of it. So I’m rather pleased to have discovered a format that seems to work every time.The set up is that our host has a rather extensive video collection. In fact, it not only contains every film every made, but even those that haven’t been made and tonight we’re going to watch one of the films in his library. To choose which one, we start off with three trailers – acted out by the team based on audience suggestions for genre, setting and titles. The audience then gets to choose which of these they want to see all the way through, and that’s our show.Now the normal problem with improv is that when you get into a blind alley, you need a quick exit. The traditional way to handle that is to have a host who can ‘buzz’ out of the scene or switch to the next game. That works, but it’s been done for years and that host feels detached from the show, so those looking for a new format are either flying dangerously solo without an overseer, or - as the Scat Pack have done – find an original way of integrating them into the show. Because the host in this case has the remote control and can fast-forward, rewind or eject tapes, not only do The Scat Pack avoid uncomfortable dead ends, but the guy with the remote control actually becomes as much a part of the comedy as the talent performing the improv. Our cast make a slip-up at their peril, for the host mercilessly pauses, rewinds and pokes fun at their mistakes. Indeed, the controller seems to take sadistic pleasure in creating the most contrived storylines to deliberately make it difficult for the players acting out the film. So these guys are freakishly talented; and on top of that can even conjure a song from nowhere on cue. And whilst that not be completely unique in Edinburgh, their format is so clever you can see this working every night; which when you’re talking about improv, is unique.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

You make up three movie titles. We improvise three trailers. You pick which one you want to watch. We create the whole thing before your very eyes! Hilarious, exhilarating and 100% improvised. www.thescatpack.co.uk