We’re crammed into in the back room at Gullivers, one of the many fun places to drink along Oldham Street, and there’s free cake. That’s not why we’re here though. We’re awaiting the arrival of Impro Quo improv troupe The Bridge Street Irregulars.
There’s an element of unpredictability to any comedy night and that’s never truer than with improv. Luckily, it looks like we’re in good hands.
The four improvisers start by taking 2016 news topics from the audience. While last year was hardly a festival of comedy, we do manage to settle on something that isn’t related to celebrity deaths, Brexit or Donald Trump.
Subjects such as the Queen’s 90th birthday and Kanye West are turned into a series of inventive skits that are liberally peppered with laughs. Highlights include a psychiatrist belittling his patients to make them more treatable and a security team sweeping a building for actual bugs.
It’d be unrealistic to expect a 100% success rate from entirely improvised stuff, but in the hands of our team the chuckles are never far apart. While a struggling stand-up is left to suffer in the spotlight, here a sketch that doesn’t quite work can simply be wrapped up and replaced with a new one. And there’s not a Donald Trump or Brexit joke in sight. Lovely.
The second half sees the group move on to short form improv. The audience input is more frequent here, and Australian soap operas evolve into Scouse Bond films at a swift pace.
There’s a game where each new line has to start with the next letter of the alphabet, where of course the fun comes from watching the performers struggle to think of anything at all beginning with X. Then there’s a set piece where each line must contain a set number of words, followed by a two-person sketch where the pair must switch roles each time ‘swap’ is called.
We end with a scene where each time a character dies, the remaining performers must repeat the piece and take on all the roles between them, until finally just one left to play all four parts at once. Trust us when we say it’s much less complicated than it sounds!
It’s been a thoroughly pleasant evening, all told. The Bridge Street Irregulars are here every last Tuesday of the month and you can see them for just £3, so it’s an ideal night if you’re a bit strapped for cash before payday. Just don’t do what we did and go to the upstairs room by mistake. Then you’ll just look silly.