{COMEDY/Improv ~ SA]

by Adrian Miller

Dropped In It is an improv comedy show by Tenuous Link where the main character literally has no idea what is supposed to be going on! The Clothesline contacted presenters Paul Gordon and Claire Bottrall and began by asking them about their company Tenuous Link.

“Tenuous Link is an Adelaide based production company. We formed in 2018 as a collaboration between veteran improvisers with a focus on long-form improv comedy. We have toured shows in the Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals (or Festival Fringe if you are in Edinburgh).”

Your promo says ‘The lead actor is late, they haven’t learnt their lines, but the show must go on’. How does that work exactly?
“It’s a bit of a misdirect to say that there are lines at all (given it is improv), but the basic concept is that we invite one talented comedian onto stage, give them a warm welcome, and immediately kick them out of the theatre. We then start creating what is effectively a one hour comedy play based on audience suggestions, all about a main character. We develop who they are, their relationships with the people in their life and what their dreams are. 20 minutes later, (whether we are ready or not) the banished comedian returns straight onto the stage, and they have to play that main character without any knowledge of who they are, what they are doing, or what is going on in general. It’s a bit silly, but it is a lot of fun.”

You have presented Dropped In It previously?
“Yes. This is the third year we have performed Dropped In It at the Adelaide Fringe. We love this format as it allows us to share the stage with amazing comedians and improvisers, and mainly because it generally ends up being ridiculous and hilarious.”

Apart from the regular cast you also have a guest performer or two?
“We have a core cast of 6 veteran improvisers (any one of whom could carry a show by themselves!), but every night we also invite a guest star on stage. Last year we had Damian Callinan (The Merger, Skithouse), Dan Ilic (Hungry Beast, A Rational Fear), and the Burton Brothers (Snake Oil). Damian loved it so much he came back for a second round. This year we are thrilled to have Tom Ballard (Tonightly with Tom Ballard, Triple J, Q&A), Dane Simpson (Have You Been Paying Attention?, Thank God You’re Here, The Merger), Tom Burton (The Burton Brothers), Curtis Shipley (Unplotted Potter) and Jon Walpole (The Big Hoo-Haa).”

The show is improv comedy. How much of a basic plot is worked out beforehand and how much is as it happens?
“While audiences often won’t believe us, literally nothing is scripted or prepared. The only things that we know going in are that the audience will give us the main character’s job, their dream in life, a relationship with someone special and a location, and that in 20 minutes someone is going to burst onto the stage. Other than that it is all completely made up on the spot. We do rehearse a lot though, running that format. The rule is, however, anything that happens in a rehearsal is not allowed on stage, which can be pretty frustrating when you have a great practise run!”

How often are you surprised by the guest performer’s ability to respond to the situation you toss them into?
“We have been blessed with guest stars all of whom have pretty impressive improv chops. Even some who we didn’t realise were improvisers (like Dan Ilic) had trained at prestigious improv schools around the world! What is even more fascinating is seeing different people tackle it in different ways. Sometimes guests decide on their character’s personality before they come on stage, which can create hilarious results. For example in one show the guest decided for some reason they were a robot, which made things…interesting considering they had been set up as being a wizard who was a part-time zoo keeper! But obviously they just became a robot-wizard with a love for animals who got up to some hilarious shenanigans.”

Is your show suitable for all ages?
“While we don’t set out to be inappropriate, the show is M-rated due to the fact that it is improv. It is possible it could be completely clean, or it could be highly offensive with all of the swear words in use, we just don’t know! We’d suggest it probably isn’t the best option for kids under the age of 12.”

What do you think people will enjoy most about Dropped In It?
“It’s a night of unpredictable comedy with some of Adelaide’s best improvisers. Whilst we have talked a lot about our guest stars the talent on display from our core cast is astonishing. Our performers have performed to sold out crowds in Adelaide, and taken shows on the road around the country and overseas. We sometimes forget that we are meant to be part of the show as we laugh from side of stage at the sheer brilliance of their antics. we are so lucky they all agreed to be in the show with us.”

Is there anything you wish to add to encourage people to come along to see Dropped In It?
“If you haven’t seen improv before, then give this one a go. Audience participation is strictly voluntary, and it is a night of quick wit, fast talking and unpredictable hilarity. Every show is a brand new experience created solely for the audience on the night. We don’t know what is going to happen, but if you enjoy watching it even half as much as we enjoy performing it, you will have an excellent night. There are no plants in the audience, we don’t pre-vet the suggestions, and there is no safety net. It’s like ‘Thank God You’re Here’ without the guard rails.”

Dropped In It performs at Prompt Creative Centre at 7.45pm from Fri 23 Feb until Sun 3 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.


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