I started hosting open mics in October of 2012. The first night I had organised a huge venue, Ya’sta Club in Madrid, Spain. I planned on charging comedians 5 Euro to perform. There was a full bar staff of three for the crowds I was anticipating. Five of my friends came. I did a set and played a couple of crowd improv games with them. Got heckled by my buddies and we laughed.
The following year, I hosted two more nights, this time at an Irish bar, I put out the call on social media, if there was any comedians that wanted to perform. No one replied.
I started attending a small bi-lingual improv group’s weekly workshop. But I quickly realised just playing games on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t going to be enough for me. So I put out the feelers about performing a Iive-show. There was little interest.
Undeterred, I pressed on. I posted on my Facebook wall and in expat groups too, saying that I was putting a team together for live shows and was looking people who wanted to perform together. Nobody responded.
I finally convinced three of my friends from the weekly workshop that it’d be fun. One of them actually seemed quite interested. We planned on finding a venue, plan out a simple show format, just some short form games to entertain in a bar setting. Simple.
We had a meeting in the park. There was 5 of us now. Three friends from the workshop and a new friend I’d made in the music open mic scene. Two Americans, An English, A Spaniard & myself. We would be called The Kintoople Cootoops.
I found a venue, Triskals and agreed to do weekly shows all summer. We had our first show and it went well. We all laughed lots and so did the audience more importantly. The following week, three people dropped out. So it was just myself and my new buddy, Shaun. I did my best to rally more people to join in. No one did.
Tenaciously we pushed on. We developed a fun two person improv show, playing 2 person improv games, playing crowd games and doing stand up comedy sets too. We invited other stand up comics to perform at our show, we’d have a guest performer here, two guest performers there. We’d also invite members of the audience to play a game with us on stage. A couple of friends played a game every so often. Sometimes our audiences were big. Sometimes they were small. As the summer rolled on, the audiences got smaller and smaller. Then in August, Shaun went back to the states.
But I still wanted to perform. I put out fresh calls for people. Asking every new person I met, ‘’Have you ever wanted to do improv?’’ No one did.
In September I was approached by a bar owner who’d seen me perform at an open mic, ‘did I want to host a weekly comedy show at his bar in the fall?
I put out new calls for people to improvise with, one of my old friends who had performed at that first show, Vesta, said she’d be there. And this time there were just slightly more stand up comics too.
The night was in the basement of a bar called Mad Dogs. It was low lighting, uncomfortable and seated about 30 people. The room was full. As usual, part of the night, I offered to the audience if anyone wanted to jump up and play a game. A guy called Rusty said he did. We played a three person scene game and it was brilliant.
Afterward the show we got chatting. ‘’How long had I been doing improv?’’ Rusty’s friend Ben asked. ‘’Was there many other improv nights going on?’’ Rusty asked.
‘’There’s one other yes, JaJaHa!, a comedy troupe, they’re a set team and have a successful weekly show doing stand up & improv.’’ ‘’But it’s not an open mic!’’
‘’Well we’re planning on starting a weekly improv open class in January, all levels welcome. You should come!’’ Ben told me.
A week before the first meeting, I met a girl from Australia who said she studied clown, did I know of any improv groups…the tides were turning…’’I did’’ I said.
That January we attended the first MAD Improv class @ Foundación First Team. The room was full. I looked around the circle of some 15 people and knew I was in the right place. Some of the participants from the other workshop joined this one too.
2014 went by in a second. I attended the weekly classes and by December had formed another group with new friends from the MAD Improv workshop, Atlantis Improv.
We went on to perform multiple shows until the following May when we disbanded. Another troupe had formed in the months before, it was Ben the teacher of the workshops, Rusty from that 1st night & Atlantis. We became the MAD Improv performance team, 2015.
In February 15’ I had also teamed up with one of our Atlantis members, Chris, doing stand up & improv shows. Our plan was to offer coaching to people who wanted to experience stand up for the first time. Diamonds Comedy. Our first show was sold out. We had 5 new comedians performing too.
We went from strength to strength, our shows were nearly always full and we gave many people an opportunity to perform for the first time. Many of which have gone on to continue and even now host their own shows. We disbanded in 2017 to pursue solo projects.
The comedy & improv scene in Madrid is thriving now, go check it out if you’re ever in town. Stand Up Yours. Fox Jokes. Drunk Classics. MAD Improv.
As for me, preservation taught me everything. I did my first improv show here in Berlin in February this year, with ŪShow. 6 years later, I still love it.
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