Comedy clubs at Christmas attract a very different crowd to the rest of the year, and are notoriously hard work for the comics who put themselves up against the extra boozy, extra leary crowd. Fancy a giggle but can’t face the festive comedy hordes? Here’s a real alternative.
“Impropriety – because sometimes life is better when it’s not completely proper”, runs the tagline on the website of Liverpool’s burgeoning improvised comedy troupe. And the intimate and kitchy surroundings of the Kazimier on a cold Sunday night only added to the sense of seasonal occasion surrounding the work of the group, formed in 2008 and inspired by the tutelage of city theatre legend, Ken Campbell.
Impropriety is a team of qualified actors and the enthusiastic pupils who are taught the craft of improvisation at the group’s weekly workshops. They have recently completed an improvised soap opera over ten weeks, and Thursday 9 December was the first of their special Christmas shows, promising Liverpool’s first improvised panto.
The evening began with a few Whose Line is it Anyway style games, with input from the audience keeping things suitably random. Back to the Future told in the style of a primary school nativity was a hoot, and the panto itself was a comedy treat, with characters suggested by the audience before things got underway.
So, our hero was Jack Sparrow, with his brother and mother respectively Gollum and (panto dame) Ann Widdecombe. Our princess was Nigella Lawson, our fairy Bet Lynch and baddie Alan Rickman.
Offstage, the narrator outlined the requirements of each scene, including whether a song was in the mix. Providing the highlight of the night was a random bag of props that became the inspiration for a frantic version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which descended into wonderful chaos as the cast sped about to keep up with the countdown of such ridiculous riches as a rubber glove, a shuttlecock and a snorkel.
And improv turned out to be, perhaps surprisingly given the usual arguments in comedy, a medium in which the female performers tended to outshine the males, with Angie Waller and Helen Foster consistantly providing the biggest laughs of the night. Ian Hayles made a great panto Dame Widdy and Trevor Fleming’s baddy Alan Rickman – sounding a bit more Dr Evil – were great fun.
Although audience participation is par for the course and in some cases added to the laughs, the conclusion of our panto was unfortunately knocked off its stride by a heckler who just seemed to be yelling out a stream of consciousness pile of garbage that clearly threw off the cast and was nothing but a pain in the backside throughout.
A shame as this brilliantly funny night, in such an intriguing venue too, was thoroughly entertaining and a welcome addition to Liverpool’s comedy scene.
Impropriety’s second Christmas show takes place at The Studio on Upper Parliament Street on December 16.