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Published on September 5th, 2011 | by Amanda


The Comedy Interview: Neil Curran

Neil Curran is 1/7th of the Laughalot Improv Group that are currently causing a storm in Dublin. He is also chairman and founder of NoDrama amateur drama group. I caught up with him before Laughalot’s recent resident gig in the Duke Pub to chat about the beginnings of Laughalot and improv in Ireland in general.

Tell me about the Laughalot Improv Group? How did it form?

Well Laughalot is a subsidiary of NoDrama Theatre group. NoDrama is an amateur drama group which I formed because I realised there were limited opportunities in Ireland for these types of groups. I asked around and went on various websites including Boards.ie and someone on there suggested I start my own group so I did and NoDrama was born. It’s something I have a big passion for.

Do you have an acting/comedy background?

Photograph by Tommy Kavanagh

Yes, there is a lot of acting in my background with most of my family involved in acting in some way.

So Laughalot came from NoDrama then?

Yes. I always had an interest in doing improv. Myself and some others in the group tried it for a fundraiser one night and it went down really well, so we decided to keep doing it! It helps that all the members of the Laughalot group are also members of NoDrama as it builds a bond of trust between the members and trust is key in any type of improv show.

What can people expect from a Laughalot show?
Well an improv show is only limited by an audiences imagination so anything goes! For us it’s about accepting whatever is offered to us from the audience.

So you accept anything the audience gives you…..?

Yeah, we don’t worry about what the audience says, we always take the first suggestion as if we don’t it feels like we have let them down.

Is that not challenging at times though?

The challenge for us is coming up with new suggestions to ask the audience for!

What has been your worst experience as a group so far?

There hasn’t really been any bad experiences as such, but there was one time, I wont mention where (even with prodding!) we were performing to a tent of 100 people and there was no sound equipment, which meant we had to turn the performance more into physical comedy!

And the best?

There has been a few of those. The most memorable has to be the Sugar Club when we performed our first long form improv which was brilliant. Plus it was for charity.

What would you say are Laughalot’s biggest achievements to date?

Well we are the only improv group in Leinster doing long form improv which is a fantastic achievement. But nothing would be possible without the help and support of people like Darragh Doyle who we are eternally grateful to.

Who are your inspirations?

Within Ireland Orla McGovern is a huge inspiration to us. She is the mammy of improv in Ireland. Further afield Keith Johson is the father of modern-day improv and would be an inspiration to us also.

Improv isn’t very well-known in Ireland at the moment is it?

Unfortunately no. There are some excellent improv groups out there such as, Craic Pack, Snatch, Jolly Beans and Choke Comedy Improv. There are no dedicated comedy clubs to improv though in Ireland as of yet.

Where do you see Laughalot in the future?

I have big plans for the future! I want it to grow. I would love to do festivals, I would love to take Laughalot to Edinburgh next year. I would also love to book out a theatre for a week and have a different show every night. That would be my dream.

And finally Neil, if someone fancies giving improv a go, can they?

Absolutely! It’s a great experience. You meet people from different walks of life and it’s a great social circle. It’s also a great way of boosting self-confidence. Take Maria for example. She was quite shy when she joined NoDrama but the support, training and coaching in the group allowed her to come out of that shell. She is a key part of Laughalot and a regular performer with NoDrama.

NoDrama meet every Tuesday night at 7pm in Synge Street primary School, The first class is free and then the cost is €25 per month thereafter.

To see the guys in action pop along to the Duke pub on the last Thursday of every month! More information can be found on www.nodramatheatre.com or by following the guys on Twitter on www.twitter.com/@nodrama

In the words of Neil himself:

“Every single person can improvise; it’s fear and anxiety that stops us.”

So the question is … are you brave enough?

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About the Author

So here is my bio.....hmmm...So.... I write obviously! I like to talk too (sometimes even to random strangers!) :) and take photos! I read a bit too. I love going to comedy gigs, cinema, just being out basically it seems! For more randomness from my head, visit my blog http://pixiedust4.wordpress.com :)

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