We interviewed Michael Burns, one of the people behind new Bristol comedy night ‘Every Other Sunday’, to find out more about a night which will soon become a Bristol classic.
So what makes ‘Every Other Sunday’ different from other comedy nights?
We are the only night in Bristol (and one of the few in the UK) showcasing longform improv and sketch comedy in the style you find at places like The Second City (in Chicago) and the Upright Citizens Brigade (in NY and LA). Bristol already has a great theatre for more narrative and short-form improv at the Bristol Improv Theatre, and of course has tons of great stand-up nights, so we really wanted to offer something unique that would compliment the existing scene.
What sort of person is your target audience?
Anyone who’s a fan of alternative comedy, and who likes their comedy as smart as it is absurd and over the top. We’re definitely putting on shows that are not for the faint of heart (for example, at our first two shows we led the audience in singing along with a song where the chorus is ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ over and over – the video is on our Facebook page). So the show isn’t for the easily offended, but at the same time the emphasis is experimentation and creativity. And it doesn’t hurt if you like to have a drink whilst enjoying your comedy.
What was it that made you put the show together to start with?
There are four of us that run the night (myself, Jessica Wright, Piers Dixon, and Hubert McIntyre) and we all know each other through the Bristol improv scene. When I was in LA this summer studying at the UCB theatre, I got an email from Piers asking if I was interested in putting on a sketch comedy night, mentioning that he was interested in the UCB style of comedy. From here we reached out to Hubert and Jess, who in my opinion are two of the funniest and most enthusiastic performers in Bristol, and talked about how we could use our shared love of longform improv and sketch comedy to bring something fresh and unique to the Bristol comedy scene. We all love this style of comedy so much – we’re basically just trying to spread the gospel to Bristol!
You premiered at The Room Above’s opening party – obviously, the venue is very new, so what can you tell us about it?
We absolutely love the space at The Room Above, and feel so lucky to be a part of it! Unlike some of the other theatre spaces in Bristol, The Room Above has the same feel you get at a lot of the legendary improv clubs in cities like Chicago and New York. Because it’s a smaller space, you really get to feel the energy of the audience and it creates an insanely fun feedback loop between the audience and performers. We also love that it’s above a fantastic pub, as we think that the sort of comedy we’re offering is best served with a pint (or four). It’s also just so great to be a part of this space from the start, as the organizers (Sam and Olivia) are infectiously enthusiastic and have such a great vision for its future.
What exactly is an “improv jam”?
An improv jam is basically a chance for anyone to get up on stage and give longform improv a try. While it’s helpful to have some experience before getting on stage for the first time, we want to provide a space for newer improvisers and comedians to get some stage time and build confidence as performers in a fun environment. I spent a lot of time at improv jams when I was studying and preforming comedy in LA over the summer, and thought it would be great if we could start to build that tradition in Bristol as well. You can basically think of it as the sort of jam you might get at a jazz club, just with a bunch of comedians with too much energy trying to make each other laugh.
The show includes an eclectic mix of comedy styles – what’s your favourite form of comedy?
My personal favourite form of comedy is longform comedic improvisation. It doesn’t focus on plot or narrative, but rather aims to identify funny patterns of behaviour and relationships. We are performing this style of improv as a regular part of our show called ‘Who The Fuck is Armando?’, where we invite our favourite local improvisers to join us on stage as we do 25 minutes of improv off an audience suggestion.
Do you have any plans for the future of Every Other Sunday?
The two big things that we’re planning are a couple of themed nights (expect an all musical night in January, and a valentines themed night in February), and some visiting improv acts from around the UK. In particular, we are hoping to bring in some of the fantastic longform improv and sketch groups from London.
So what can people expect from your first official show this Sunday?
A ridiculous amount of energy, a mix of sketch, stand-up, and improv, and really smart and really insane comedy. I can’t make any promises, but people can also expect to possibly end up with a free beer if they play their cards right…
You can see ‘Every Other Sunday’ this Sunday 27th, and after that, every other Sunday.
Hannah McLeod, Editor