I talked to one of the newest IMPs, Francessca Evans, a 1st year at St Anne’s College the day before the show.
What IMP-spired you to join?
I’d done improvisation at school and at weekends, but it was largely unstructured and unfocused. I saw the stand at Freshers’ Fair and thought “Go for it!” The audition was really enjoyable, just a lot of games, although it really pushed me out of comfort zone. Auditions are a bit of a filtering process – you can’t be afraid of making a fool out of yourself. We’re all weird people. But that’s half the charm of it.
Are you all IMP-clusive?
We’re really mixed, with engineers, linguists, biochemists… it’s Oxford wide, so the producer for example is from Oxford Brookes.
How IMP-tense is your schedule?
I trained all of last term. I went to all the shows at Wheatsheaf and now I perform every Monday there. The show has been very busy – lots of flyering, leafleting and postering… and then there’s rehearsing…
What made this show so IMP-ressive?
There’s a much bigger audience – 1800 people. Also we’re bringing back some old imps, and they’re quite well known now. Usually it’s 5 of us, but there’s going to be 10 – 12. The basic format is still the same. It’s just the size has been increased.
For the first time why will this show be the perfect IMP-roduction?
Because it’s going to be bonkers! It’ll be the best introduction to the Imps as you get to see us past and present. We take audience suggestions, so even if you’re a regular, it’s never the same show twice.
My interview with Frankie made me excited for the show. But would it live up to her promises?
The simple answer is that it exceeded them: it was fantastic and hilarious. The Imps make a really cohesive team, and it was clear they love what they do. Their performance was lively and engaging, with high energy. Even from several rows back, the sense of camaraderie between them was evident.
There was absolutely something for everyone: a mix of everything from slapstick to shaggy dog (or should that be ‘shaggy Womble’?) stories, and from rapping to mock Shakespearean soliloquies. The show managed to avoid many of the falls of TV live comedy with its variety and consistent quality – there was, as Frankie said, never a dull moment.
Equally great were their guest stars. A real range of talents was shown, from mind-boggling brilliant tricks of Morgen & West to superb singing from Rachel Parris. For me, the personal highlight was the puntastic performance of Robin & Partridge. It was really refreshing to experience humour relying on linguistic talent, timing and movement, rather than smut and swearing.
The 10th anniversary show clearly demonstrated that the Imps fully deserve their status as some of Oxford’s comedic elite, and if the guest stars were anything to go by, then the current members are destined for great things IMP-deed.