The Discount Comedy Checkout – Improv Show

Ever wanted to know what a camping trip sounds like through the medium of opera? Yes, I'm being serious, and this is just one of many bizarre performances you will see from The Discount Comedy Checkout. 

In the space of an hour, this group of comedians presents a series of improvisation games, and how they develop is entirely spontaneous.

In the space of an hour, this group of comedians presents a series of improvisation games, and how they develop is entirely spontaneous. As one of the Fringe’s many improvisation groups, this troupe are guaranteed to have you laughing and what's even better, it’s free! 

Tucked away in one of the upstairs performance spaces at Cowgatehead, this is fringe in its purest form. A dingy room with a simple arrangement of chairs in front of a makeshift stage. The show opens with a brief introduction from compère Terri Shaw as four improvisers take the stage - Eddie French, Natalie Smeaton, Chris Lumb and guest performer Amy Forrest. 

The first game, A to Z, involved two improvisers having to use the order of the alphabet as the starting word for each sentence, audience interaction was immediately required in order to decide the relationship dynamic within the scenario. French was particularly strong here, effortlessly funny and quick witted and responding with ease to fellow performer Forrest who provided the fuel for his punchlines. The audience was heavily involved for the next game, and ideas were given as to what genre of film would be acted out, a camping scene was then suggested and the game was quickly underway. Shaw, called out different genres and improvisers had to immediately switch into the appropriate style, whilst maintaining believability. Smeaton was particularly comedic and her energy stood out amongst the other actors, she may be economic with her words but her interjections are quick witted and visually entertaining. 

The News Report game where an audience member postulated the idea that there was ‘No News’, was immediately funny as the improvisers took on the challenge with gusto, positioning themselves as different roles. 

Each game had moments of strength, however there were elements that could have been improved in terms of entertainment and the fluidity of the show. In particular, the News report game had a rather strained duration and would have benefited from a change of idea. The joke was exhausted after a few minutes and the same goes for the Improvised Olympic game, where the idea of flyer dodging was strained to fill the slot. 

Of course, the compère is responsible as to where games should alternate and I would suggest that Shaw needs to show more awareness in this and swiftly make changes when they need to be made. Additionally she lacks energy in comparison to the improvisers, though she has no participation in the games themselves her role as compère needs a bit more spark. Standing up rather than sitting down would make a difference. 

The performers themselves each bring something different to the show, some more witty than others and some more energetic. French is of different calibre, he is clearly articulate and his ability to improvise comes at ease. In fact, I could easily watch him perform a one man show. However, this in itself endangers the show as he becomes the carrier, his interjections are common whilst the others struggle to get a word in edgeways. 

The Discount Comedy team put together a show that is structured, but could benefit from working outside of it. Ideas are too rigid and change ups need to be made to keep the performers and the audience on their feet.

Reviews by Lucy Skinner

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The Blurb

Hilarious 100% raw improvisation is on the menu as some weird and wonderful suggestions are taken from the audience while performing short-form improvisation games. So if you've ever wanted to see a giant jelly man attack New York City, or a musical romance blossom between a kitchen sink and a fridge then come along, suggest it and The Discount Comedy Checkout will deliver it for you! Part of La Favorita Freestival,