After hearing about the line up for Chat Show Roulette, I decided I couldn’t not go: Justin Edwards, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Cariad Lloyd, Matt Lucas and others were to perform for us at the gorgeous little Hen and Chickens Theatre. This is one of Ben Walker’s projects, the technical wizard behind the likes of AIOTM, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square podcast, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown and the fantastic Do The Right Thing.
I roped in Richard Hollis and we met up at the bar below the theatre around 645. Justin took to the stage shortly after 730 and explained how the evening would work. it was an improvised chat show, and he nor any of the guests knew who the characters would be that he would be interviewing. We had all filled out slips containing places, items, celebrities and such like and the subjects would be taken from these.
Just to digress quickly, this is a great chance to show you a video of Justin’s alcoholic children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion. It’s nothing to do with this show, and it’s not Christmas any more, but watch this and enjoy.
Anyway, back to the evening. The show still hadn’t started and Justin worked his way down the front row asking for first names, surnames, names of favourite teachers and pets until we had all the character’s names who were to be interviewed. These ranged from the rather sweet William Hunter to the fantastical Thumper Mitchell.
The pianist played on the first guest, played by Alex Lowe. As luck would have it he turned out to be a famous fitness guru who had operated gyms in places like The Natural History Museum, and he and Jeremy reminisced over his career.
Second up were Ceebeebies stars played by Mike Wozniak and the magnificent Cariad Lloyd. I would direct you to a Cariad Lloyd video on Youtube, but unfortunately my account has sort of been deleted. On the plus side, I have two more in it’s place: one for music (MrAndyMcH
) and one for comedy (LeeHerringFan
). Anyway, I had never seen Mike before but he played opposite Cariad brilliantly. especially once it had been revealed that Cariad and he were no longer together and we could see occasional glimpses of Cariad’s jealous fury through her fixed children’s presenter smile.
Next up was Margaret Cabourn-Smith. I know her mainly as the team captain opposite Michael Legge in Do The Right Thing, and occasional contributor to the Dave Gorman radio show, but you probably know her as Alison in Miranda. She was a British hero who had saved the nation with an undisclosed deed in Mozambique, and this also involved her face painting a lovely ladybird on the pianist’s face. Margaret is always rather lovable on stage, and somehow reminds me of Kat Bjelland from Babes In Toyland. (I’m not really sure why)
Finally Matt Lucas’s character got called to the stage. He did not appear, and Justin seemed genuinely confused by this. He went to the audience where he had been sitting and discovered him limping bizarrely down the aisle just so his short journey to the chair took almost 3 minutes. I’m not a huge Little Britain fan to be honest, but Matt’s improvising was amazing, creating a great character who turned out to be a Mastermind champion who is more than a little racist, which Justin tried to steer him away from as any old school interviewer would.
After the show we had nachos and a beer and had a brief chat with the lovely Margaret and just as lovely Cariad. The evening ended with slight embarrassment outside when I said hello to Matt and mentioned out of courtesy that I would put a picture on Twitter if he was OK with it. I think he misunderstood and I was immediately stood next to him with my arm round his shoulder like some immature fanboy (WHICH I AM DEFINITELY NOT!)
The guys are recording a pilot for both radio and TV and are doing these little shows just to keep practised and their improv skills sharp. If you get a chance, go and see this the next time it is on. It’s a real fun night out.
And is it improv or impro?
I’m going to keep saying Improv until proven otherwise.