TBC Improv About - History
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 HK began performing and teaching improv in Hong Kong and across Asia.
The 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!
The 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!).