After 7 years, 150+ posts and 15,000 views I am calling time on this blog. Before winding it down I thought I’d look back and summarise what has happened in that time.
Over half of the blogposts are monthly listings of all the improv shows each month across the Midlands. These provide a one-stop shop for anybody looking to see what is happening in the area and a semi-permanent record of the intangible creativity that fades away after each performance.
A quarter of the posts are reviews of acts that have performed here in the last 7 years. I have written both standard reviews, explaining the nuts and bolts of the show and what I enjoyed about it, and audience reviews summarising comments made on social media and elsewhere. These are the most popular posts by far, which is no surprise as they are evergreen content, reviewed groups are keen to share them and individuals considering seeing a show actively seek them out. The most popular reviews of all time are:
- Box Of Frogs – “Fantastic” / “Superb” / “Hilarious”
- The Kneejerks – “A moment of joy in every scene”
- Fat Penguin Improv – “The widest range of laughs in the Midlands”
- Baron Sternlook – “Funny and heartwarming. A talented bunch.”
- Between Us – “Sad. Touching. Beautiful.”
The remaining posts are one-offs, mostly looking ahead to upcoming special events (like the Birmingham Improv Festival) or looking back at what has come before (such as this Review of 2018). These summaries help give a snapshot of the improv scene at a point in time and again help potential audience members see what they are missing out on.
There has been a lot of change in the Midlands improv scene since 2016. The number of shows has grown from an average of 18 a month in the early years to an average of 30 a month now. Over that period we’ve had the first improv festivals in the region (in Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester) and seen an increase in improv shows at comedy festivals. The number of groups has increased to a record level, 27 at the last count, and many more groups have came and went during the period.
I have seen almost every local act over that period and written reviews for as many as I could. In addition to those groups already listed, I particularly enjoyed musicals from Rhymes Against Humanity, Star Wars comedy from MissImp and Dickensian tales from Foghorn Unscripted. There really is a lot of talent hidden away in rooms above pubs and small theatre spaces.
The aim of this blog has been to promote improv in the Midlands to new audiences. That’s why I’ve tried to make it easier to find shows and written reviews aimed at audiences who have not seen an improv show before. Most people’s reference point to a night of comedy is stand-up, where they worry about sitting in the front row and being picked on. Improv isn’t like that. Even for those that know improv, most people’s reference point is Whose Line Is It Anyway. Improv isn’t always like that either. As the most popular post on this blog says, there’s a hundred different flavours of improv out there.
It has been great to see such a wide variety of improv in the Midlands, and I hope it continues to grow and find new audiences in the future.