Comedy improv troupe The Noise Next Door bring their talents to Steyning Live Lounge Comedy Club on Friday, February 5 (8pm), as they mark eight years since they found their name.
As co-founder Sam Pacelli recalls, it took quite some looking for.
“We were thinking for ages for a name.
“We shut ourselves away in the house to try to come up with one. We wanted something that was memorable but not too cheesy, and we were in the house for days making a lot of noise, and then our neighbour poked her head around the door.
“She was a lovely older lady who unfortunately just happened to live next door to a lot of creative types! But she was so sweet. She said ‘I know you need to be creative, but do you mind? It is half past three in the morning.’ She was so nice about it.
“She said she was totally understanding, but it was very, very late.”
And so they realised the name they had to adopt. They were The Noise Next Door.
They were students at the University of Canterbury at the time: “We had started the improv group a long time before that, but in January 2008, we got to the point where we decided that we were the five strongest members and that we wanted to have a go at making a living out of it.”
The initial problem wasn’t so much competition from other improv groups as trying to establish themselves on the comedy circuit.
As Sam says, if you go along to a promoter and say “there are five of us and we do improv”, it’s difficult to get anywhere. In the end, they did plenty of unpaid gigs, simply to get themselves established.
It’s a question of playing to your strengths. As Sam says, there are plenty of actors who would be terrified at having to cope without a script: Sam and the gang would be terrified to have one.
“If you haven’t got a script, you haven’t got something you can forget!
“With improv, there is always a lovely sense of risk that you never quite know what you are going to say, and that raises the level. If you say something that is not very funny, the rest of the group can jump in and almost act like the audience and say ‘Well, that’s not very funny’, and you can get the laugh that way.
“You get a smidgeon of leeway early on. But obviously, you can only do that so much. You can’t spend the whole evening not being very funny!”
As Sam says, this is the kind of show where the audience input is vital. It is the audience that comes up with the suggestions.
“We do short-form improv games fuelled by audience interaction. We involve people in the show.”
And yes, the audience suggestions can be a little predictable: “Sometimes people don’t shout out the mundane things, which can actually be very funny – like accountant.
“But even if you are getting the same suggestions, you have just got to use them differently.
“If someone shouts out ‘Donald Trump’ in Leeds and you use it, and then the next night someone shouts out ‘Donald Trump’ in Brighton, you can’t say ‘Sorry, we had that in Leeds last night.’ They probably wouldn’t believe you.
“They might just think you are not using it because it is too difficult.
“What you have got to do is to use the suggestion and use it differently to the way you used it the night before.”
Call 01903 812062 or visit www.steyninglivelounge.co.uk for tickets to the Steyning gig. Log on to www.thenoisenextdoor.co.uk to find out more.
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