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The TBC Improv Story

From its inception in 2009 up to today, find out a little more about Edinburgh's own Improv Comedy Theatre Company.


In the latter half of 2009, Lauren Berning, Fernando Fresquez and Sacha Timaeus arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. They each had hoped to become active in the Edinburgh improv scene, but finding little existed already, they soon set out to establish an improv comedy troupe of their very own: To Be Continued…! Starting workshops to entice other potential performers, their first inaugural show was held at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar in Edinburgh on 10th December 2009; a competition style show featuring members of the workshops as guest performers.


The first half of 2010 saw more workshops and shows, with an increasing number of the guest performers featuring in various shows. After a successful run at the Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Improv Wins!, the troupe expanded, promoting regular workshop attendees and show players Peter Aitchison, Paul Connolly, Paddy Hare and Sam Irving to the main troupe. At the same time, Sacha departed to pursue other acting interests.


The troupe continued to perform in Edinburgh at the start of 2011 with An Evening of Improv Comedy!, but now expanded out to other places such as Glasgow, St Andrews and Arran. Harry Gooch, a regular workshop attendee and guest performer since September 2010, officially joined To Be Continued… in March 2011. The new 7-person troupe made their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August of that year with Absolute Improv!. The show ran for the whole of the Fringe and was a near sell-out, not a bad debut by any means!

After the high of the Fringe debut, the troupe said good-bye to Fernando (who returned to his native Albuquerque) and Sam (who was moving to China for a year) in September 2011. On a happier note, the month also saw the arrival of new member Caroline Mathison.

To Be Continued… continued teaching weekly workshops in Edinburgh in 2011, starting up classes in Glasgow too. In May 2011, the troupe ran the first of their 8-week improv courses, with graduates having the opportunity to perform during the Edinburgh Fringe.


The troupe ploughed into 2012 full-steam ahead: regular monthly performances in Edinburgh; performances at several festivals (including the Glasgow Comedy Festival, Prague Fringe Festival, Buxton Festival Fringe and Barnstaple Fringe Theatrefest); 8-week improv courses and drop-in classes in Edinburgh and Glasgow meant the troupe were busier than ever. With the addition of Raymond Considine and return of Sam, the troupe decided to take on their biggest challenge yet: not 1 but 3 improv shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012 saw To Be Continued… returning with Absolute Improv! and debuting two new shows: Absolute Improv Stories! and Absolute Improv Stripping!. In Absolute Improv Stories! saw the troupe creating a improvise an entire children's story based upon the imagination of the young audience (an imagination, it turned out, which was unbounded and incredible). Absolute Improv Stripping! was a late-night offering where, if the performers made a mistake in a game, they would have to remove an item of clothing; the last one with the most articles at the end was the winner. Many talented guest performers from all over the world were invited to perform at and contributed greatly to this late-night performance.


After the departure of Harry in September 2012, To Be Continued… continued their busy schedule of performances and workshops. After a well-earned break in December, the troupe got back to business in 2013, with performances, workshops and new troupe members Nicola Dove and Sabrina Martin making sure that the year should be another exciting one for Edinburgh's own improv comedy troupe!

2013 would prove to be the troupe's busiest year yet: well received return performances from both the Glasgow International Comedy Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival; debuts at the Oxford Fringe and Merchant City Festivals; more guest workshops and workshop courses than ever before. All of this culminated in the top highlight of the year: achieving the official "sold-out show" laurel from Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013 for Absolute Improv. Though it was with sadness the troupe bid farewell to Paddy and Sabrina, the year ended on a high note with long-time friend of the troupe Mara Joy joining the troupe in November.


The new year brought in new faces in the form of Will Naameh and Eric Geistfeld, along with debut performances at the Brighton Fringe and Holt Festivals. The group did manage to make appearances at old favourites Glasgow Comedy Festival and Buxton Fringe, as well as a return visit to the Prague Fringe! Although the troupe bid farewell to Lauren in September, it was not before the group managed to get a second sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Absolute Improv!


'If the previous few years had focused on building To Be Continued…, 2015 was the year when building up the Scottish community as a whole was the focus. In March the group unveiled The TBC Improv Theatre - a central hub for watching, learning and performing improv theatre in Scotland. With the introduction of shows Improv Games and The Harold Improv Comedy Show, performers and new talent from across the Scottish scene and beyond joined TBC Improv Players for improvised comedy fun (Improv Games would also go on to have a very successful run at the PBH Free Fringe 2015). The TBC Improv Theatre also played host this year to the inaugural Scottish Improv Jam, where improvisers from several groups came together to raise money for the charity Missing People through the powerful joy of improvisational theatre.

In addition to the theatre, March also saw the debut of new show Absolute Improv Musical - the groups first fully musical improv show - at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. Along with new shows, new groups formed too: in Scotland, Smoky Monkeys and Improv Killed My Dog formed from the members of courses in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively; while on the other side of the world a sister group founded by former member Lauren Berning, TBC Improv HK began performing and teaching improv in Hong Kong and across Asia.

faces of the TBC Improv Players also changed in 2015, with long-time member Sam Irving departing for China (again) after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (oh, side-note, Absolute Improv! was another Fringe sell-out this year), with new members Steph Brown and Gregor Davidson joining the TBC improv family.

The final few months of 2015 were extremely busy for The TBC Improv Theatre, with new shows such as Open Improv Night and Smoky Monkeys A Re-Improvised History of the World, along with performances from noted groups and individuals such as Men With Coconuts, David Razowsky and Tray Full of Brownies, closing the year on a high note and solidifying the theatre as the place to go for improv in Scotland.


'To Be Continued… continued having fun entertaining and teaching improv throughout the country and the year in 2016. From performances at Glasgow's West End Festival, to Buxton Fringe and, of course, Edinburgh Fringe, the group had the chance to have improv comedy fun with familiar friends and new faces.

Highlights of the year included a fourth official Edinburgh Fringe sell-out run with Absolute Improv!, along with an appearance on STV's The Late Show. Invited onto the late night chat show to discuss improv comedy, the scene in Scotland, and to perform some improv comedy with host Ewen Cameron, the appearance marked not only did this mark the group's TV debut, but helped to promote improv comedy performance to a wider audience, a huge goal for the group.

The group did bid farewell to TBC Improv Players Steph and Eric in September, who departed for new and exciting opportunities in London and the United States respectively. While it's always sad to say goodbye to performers, there is a saying we have here: once a TBC Improv Player, always a TBC Improv Player!

TBC Improv Theatre continued to grow from strength to strength, with the biggest change coming in September when it moved to a new home: the basement theatre space of a new Edinburgh comedy venue Monkey Barrel Comedy. The new venue, along with a new regular slot of Sunday nights, helped to continue to promote the joy that is improv comedy and the wonderful talent performing in it throughout the rest of the year!


The year that was 2017 was very much the year of The TBC Improv Theatre @ Monkey Barrel Comedy, debuting a new format that would see regular shows on the First, Second, Second-Last and Last Sundays of the month. With The TBC Improv Theatre providing more regular performance opportunities for Edinburgh based groups, many - including Smoky Monkeys and Tinderelllas - starting appearing at many other comedy nights, theatre performances, and having runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This development of the improv scene was the reason for the theatre existing, and it was wonderful to see the success stories in 2017.

Of course, To Be Continued… were still kept busy during the year performing and teaching improv. Perhaps the biggest highlight was achieving a 5th Edinburgh Fringe Sell-Out run, which also featured a returning Eric Geistfeld who joined the group for the month of August before departing back stateside.


After performing regularly with the company for the previous two years and being an instrumental component of our music team (pun very much intended), June saw Jenny Laahs finally officially announced as a TBC Improv Player, as part of the TBC Improv Band.

In additional, after years of using it as a moniker, the companay formally adpoted TBC Improv as its name, better reflecting what the company is about (mainly, improv!).


A year filled with potential, 2019 saw continued fun being had with courses throughout the year and another successful Edinburgh Fringe run, this year featuring many talented guest performers including: Charles Dundas, Jon Carstairs, Mike Brown, Sarah Davies and Shona White.

It was also a year of goodbyes as well, as Nicola Dove officially departed as a full-time performer, while Paul Connolly stepped down as a full time performer in TBC Improv at the end of the Edinburgh Fringe run to focus on the admin and teaching side of the company. March saw the end of the pop-up theatre project "The TBC Improv Theatre". Behind the scenes plans were being made to establish something more permanent starting the following year, however world events would have a significant impact on plans…


The pandemic that started in 2020 was a traumatic event for all who lived through it, though one which was experienced differently depending on numerous socio-economic factors.

The year began as many others had previously: courses run successfully in the Winter Term, plans being finalised for Edinburgh Fringe, discussions ongoing for a new permanent home for The TBC Improv Theatre. With Mara Joy, Will Naameh, Jenny Laahs and Raymond Consindine stepping away to focus on other projects, TBC Improv held auditions at the start of March for new members. After shortlisting a several people, callbacks were set for the final week in March.

Those callbacks would never happen.

As with many theatre companies, TBC Improv had to make a difficult decision of whether to try to move online or "go dark" and wait until it was safe to run in person events again. After much discussion, the latter choice was ultimately made. The next two years would prove a very uncertain, as for the first time since its inception in 2009, TBC Improv would not be providing any improv to Scotland's capital.



After a two year hiatus, TBC Improv faced a crossroad: was it going to return to providing improvised joy to Scotland's capital and beyond, or had its final chapter already been written, a company that would quietly drift off into the sunset with its place in the Scottish improv history books confirmed.

This time, the former was chosen.

It was decided that TBC Improv would return to the Edinburgh Fringe with Absolute Improv! after missing it in 2020 and 2021. To do this, Gregor and Caroline were joined by old friends Charles, Jon, and Sarah from Fringe 2019, along with new guest performers Calum Jarvie, Katie Fraser, Ken Gordon, Marijke Cortenbach and Steven Millar. Paul also stepped back in to help out, dusting off his trusty red compere jacket to be the host of the show for the run (the first time Absolute Improv! featured a dedicated host since early 2012). Was the run a success? Ask the hundreds who came to watch and shared in the laughter and joy.

TBC Improv was back!