Kaitlin Thompson InterviewPosted: 17 May 2013
We are lucky enough to have various international improvisers coming over for the Slapdash Festival, and excitingly we have had the opportunity to interview some of the performers before they reach our sunny (not guaranteed) shores. Feast your eyes on the thoughts of Kaitlin Thompson who will be coming over from Philadelphia with Safe Weird.
Philadelphia improviser and sketch comedian Kaitlin Thompson began performing in 2008. Kaitlin writes and performs sketch comedy with regularly with ManiPedi. They were nominated for the 2012 and 2013 WitOut Award for Best Sketch Group in Philadelphia. The group was featured in the Ladies are Funny Festival 2012 in Austin, TX, as well as the 2012 Boston Comedy Arts Festival, where they were named one of the top festival picks by Dig Boston. Kaitlin currently improvises with independent teams Kait & Andrew and Safe Weird, and she wouldn’t change that for the world. Kaitlin has performed in the 14th Del Close Marathon as part of the late-night show Improv at Bernie’s.
How did you get into improv?
I never did any school plays or any kind of acting or comedy until taking an improv class at Bucks County Community College, but I was always interested in comedy. So many of my favorite comedians had done improv. I loved to watch the outtakes from TV shows and movies, seeing incredibly funny actors just making each other laugh, professionals breaking and cracking-up. Comedy seemed so fun to do, but I was too afraid to try acting or standup. I took the improv class because I wanted to desperately, but at the time I made the excuse that I took the class to keep being a full-time student so I could stay on my parents’ health insurance plan. That way, if I was abysmally unfunny I could brush it off as nothing but a 3-credit class with no homework.
What keeps you improvising?
It’s as fun as it looked. I’m also chasing that dragon of the first time I got a really big laugh in improv class.
What’s so great about improv?
That relief and pride you feel when your teammate walks out with an idea that’s ten times better than whatever stupid thing you had a mind to do when you first walked out to do a scene.
Also, you don’t have to worry about making and carrying around props.
What is a memorable improv show that you have seen or been in?
I saw Bassprov at the Chicago Improv Festival in 2012. It was my first time in Chicago, so I was already excited, but I was a total improv pleb. I had no idea what Bassprov was before I saw them. Their set was hysterically funny with this calm execution, it was great.
What is your ideal venue for a show?
A smallish black box theatre that is easy to pack with people. And it’s BYOB so no one is angry from waiting in the beer line for forty-five minutes.
How would you describe improv to a new audience member?
First, I would try not to let myself get too excited. I don’t want anyone to be underwhelmed.
I describe the bare-bones mechanics of improv to my friends who have never seen it: team gets a suggestion, they make up scenes. I try to emphasize that the performers could be on and have a great show or they might have some slow points or scenes that don’t end up going anywhere. I tell friends to drink enough so that they’re laughing generously but not so much that they’re talking during show.
How has improv changed your ‘real life’?
I’ve made a bunch of friends. It gave me more excuses to travel. I don’t agonize as much over little embarrassing things I might do throughout the day.
What is your impression of the UK, in general?
Friends who have been there say it’s beautiful and that I’m going to have a great time. I like beer, so I expect they’re right.
Anything else you would like to say?
I would just like to caution those who might meet me: in the same way that you should not judge all improv on one bad show, please don’t judge the United States on the embarrassing things I will do or say while visiting your wonderful country.
Catch Safe Weird on Thursday 13th of June at the Nursery Theatre, as part of the Slapdash Festival.
Stay tuned to our blog (you can’t untune from our blog) for more interviews, including the rest of Safe Weird, members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and other improvisers who are coming into the UK from outside the UK. Prepare yourself.