Infectious chemistry and high energy from Cambridge's premier improvisersKristina Shaw with permission for Varsity

When I first sat down to watch the Impronauts perform a Quickfire show at the ADC bar, I have to admit I was feeling apprehensive. I know firsthand from my own experiences taking comedy classes how much effort goes into getting good at improv, including supporting your scene partners, thinking on your feet, and creating a witty story.

The theme of the night was Valentine’s Day, and the cosy vibe of the ADC bar made an ideal venue for the night’s performance. My fears were assuaged a bit by the sizeable audience surrounding me, full of chattering students and townies enjoying their pints of beer and glasses of wine. Everyone had come ready for a good show.

“Two improvisers embodied Gandalf penning a breakup letter to Stephen Fry”

And none of us were disappointed: simply put, it was the most fun comedy show I’ve been to in a long while. The Valentine’s theme brought forth a wide cast of characters into scenes centred on love and dating, and the performers moved seamlessly from game to game. The second scene they put together left me in stitches as two improvisers embodied Gandalf penning a breakup letter to Stephen Fry. Some comedians in particular dazzled throughout the evening. I was especially impressed by Liam McKnight’s dexterity when I got called on at random to hand my phone over for one game – McKnight turned nonsensical texts between me and some friends into a hilarious, if caustic, script for a first date.

Another tour de force onstage was Jack Sullivan, who jumped easily from Gandalf to pub owner to shoe-obsessed suitor between scenes. The show closed with a chaotic minute-long scene of two people falling in love in a submarine, which then got chopped to 30 seconds, then halved again and again until the improvisers did the scene in barely over three seconds. It was an impressive feat to witness and infected every audience member with the same energy the improvisers had shown for the past hour.

While I wish I could tell you the night was consistently fantastic – and I really, truly wish I could! – there were elements of the show that might benefit from some workshopping. One game revolved around two improvisers trying to get their scene partner to guess two characters (the audience suggested Kim Kardashian and Tyrion Lannister), but instead of embodying the suggested characters, the improvisers made vague suggestions and puns. The improvisers struggled and their energy flagged, but thankfully the audience stayed generous with their responses, being quick to laugh and cheer as the game concluded.


Mountain View

If Shakespeare be the food of love, play on

That said, I feel like I’m nitpicking given how fantastic the rest of the show was and how in sync the performing improvisers were. Yuhang Xie, current president of the Impronauts, explained to me before the show how important it is for the troupe to be close-knit. “You are supported by your fellow improvisers and you support them in return,” he shared. As an audience member, it was clear the performers were supporting each other in every scene they created and game they played, and it was enjoyable to watch them connect and banter onstage.

All in all, the Impronauts put on a show that was high-energy, well-polished, and an excellent example of how the best of improvisers can go with the flow to make side-splitting stories for the audiences to enjoy. The Impronauts also offer open workshops every Sunday during term time in the ADC bar, and at the end of the Quickfire they encouraged curious audience members to come join a workshop. They might just find me wandering into that workshop in the near future – it would be a great time to join in on the fun they were clearly having together.

The Cambridge Impronauts perform every other Sunday in the ADC bar at 20:00