Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

15/11/2013 - 16/11/2013

Production Details

THE IMPROV BANDITS are finally legal!!

The Improv Bandits, New Zealand’s top improvised comedy act, celebrate their 16th birthday with two performances at the Maidment Theatre in November. 

Starting off from humble beginnings at the SiLO Theatre in November 1997, through to auditioning for the US TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? in 1999, opening their own venue – the Covert Theatre – in 2001, winning the 2002 world championship title in Chicago, the home of improvised comedy, and being invited to perform at international festivals, it has been an amazing journey for this NZ comedy act.

Such is their talent, they have been asked to share the stage with comedy heavyweights such as Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Dan Castenella (Homer from The Simpsons) andGeorge Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and have starred in the 2004, 2008 and 2009 NZ Comedy Gala. 

The Improv Bandits are made up of seven of the best improv actors in the country headed by double world improv champion Wade Jackson. The Improv Bandits are Wade Jackson, Tony Gilbert, Geoff Simmons, Mark Scott, Tom Kane, Greg Ward and Matt Halliday. While not performing their razor sharp show that never repeats, they can be seen in the NZ acting scene in films, TV and other live theatre. 

“We started off as the renegades of comedy, doing fresh, risky improv,” says founding member Wade Jackson, “and that’s really been our recipe for success. If you play it too safe, improv becomes boring at best and self-indulgent at worse. We still love to push the envelope and keep getting better.”

This can be seen by the number of people who travel to NZ to study with the troupe. The Improv Bandits are regarded internationally as pioneers in the art of improvisation and have people from as far as Finland, Holland, and the United States come to learn from them. The improv community in NZ is very small so to be recognised internationally is a massive compliment to the caliber of the troupe.

The Improv Bandits are one of the country’s one of most exciting comedy shows. Get along and see world-class improvised comedy where The Improv Bandits live up to their motto of “no scripts, no gimmicks, no safety net!”

AUCKLAND:  The Improv Bandits

Dates:  15 & 16 November (Fri & Sat) 
Venue:  Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre
Time:  8.00pm
Tickets:  $25 / $20 
Bookings:  (09) 308 2383

Theatre , Improv ,

Coming into their own

Review by Joanna Page 16th Nov 2013

According to the Improv Bandits, they’re finally legal! And to celebrate 16 years of improvisation Kiwi-style, double-world improv champion Wade Jackson and co (Michael, Matt, Paul, and Greg) take to the boards for a suitably debaucherous evening of mirth. 

There are two key things to remember about improv: because there are no scripts or prep-time the scenes can hit or completely miss the mark; a show’s success depends entirely on the audience on the night. Get a keen one, and you’re away. 

The Bandits luck out this night. While the audience shows the usual three-way split (those who would rather die than be called upon, those who are gagging to get on stage [and usually disappoint] and those who don’t mind either way [and often dazzle]), the ideas they give the performers are more polished gold than tarnished. 

Right from the get-go the Bandits deliver energy, laughs and the ability to take one character and successfully weave her into almost every game. We are treated to shoo-wop songs, a foreign film with translation, a-day-in-the-life-of interpretation of one audience member’s Friday (complete with a knife-wielding three-year-old son), some Shakespearean pimping, a birthing tag-in scene and a remake of Back to the Future

But the standout of the evening has to be Wade’s ‘sign-language translation’ of Greg and Michael’s earnest and in-depth interview about physics. (I’d apologise for throwing that specialist subject out there, but it leads to side-splitting laughs so I shan’t). The translation of “tapping into the energy around a black hole” leaves nothing to the imagination and is priceless.

Tonight’s (Sat 16th) show is the Improv Bandits’ last for 2013 and I’m tempted to go back for more – simply to see what the think-on-your-feet-and-go-with-your-gut team will come up with next.   

Happy birthday Bandits. You’ve definitely come into your own!


Watson November 20th, 2013

Jeezuz Sherlock! Why would you even write that? Seriously dude, buy some happy pants or someone's going to give you a wet wille. Improv World Championships are like Martial Arts world championships. Sure there's no uniting body everyone agrees on, but to win the Cage match (even to be invited!) is pretty bloody impressive, particularly when its in a massive theatre stacked with the opposition's supporters and THEY get to do the voting. You have to be pretty convincing to sway the opposition's die hard fans!

Also I'm just trying to be constructive when I say, have you tried:

1: Stop being a sooky bubba

2: Practising more at being good at improvising, and

3: Laying off trying to destroy your competition's reviews? 

PS. Im guessing Sherlock's not your real name, so even you're ashamed of your being such a meany. Its okay, I understand, you were having a go at being a reviewer, but I don't know if you noticed, there was already one at the top of the page and she actually went to the show. Apparently it was really good because they do practising for improvising instead of scrutinising other peoples reviews to see if they did something wrong.

PPS. My real name isnt Watson (hee hee - I did your trick) It's Mark Scott. 

PPPS. I wasnt at the show either because I was committed to a two week season of another one where we also practised and got a good review. It was disappointing not to have been there tho cos Im also an Improv Bandit and had to miss our birthday :-(

PPPPS. I like that you care enough about improv that you want to get the facts straight and I hope you have a nice day. 

Wade Jackson November 20th, 2013

Am totally talking it up Sherlock. The titles refer to our World Cage Match victory in Chicago 2002 and International Micetro title I won in Calgary 2000 at the Loose Moose. I don't know of any unifying World Championship in improv either, and while I don't take the Double World Champion moniker seriously, I/we didn't NOT win those shows (always love a good double negative) so am not embarrased/afraid to use my/our achievements to promote what we do.       

Looks like you're doing some research so would love to see evidence where "The Improvisors in Wellington, Auckland Theatresports and The Court Jesters in Christchurch have been doing long form narrative formats like Harold and Triple Plays, and 60 minute open scenes since the late 80's. This is news to me. I find it hard to believe they were doing Triple Play in the 80's as Triple Play was invented by LA Theatresports (now LA Impro) in 1989 and first taught in NZ by Dan O'Connor (from LA Theatresports) when I brought him to NZ. But hey, if you know different - I'm open. Theatresports was the mainstay improv format in NZ throughout the 80's and I have nothing against the competitive format/s - I was also the first to bring Keith Johnstone, the creator of Theatresports to NZ.

Sounds like we also may have different definitions of what a troupe is. I consider The Improvisers, Auckland Theatresports (now Con Artists) and The Court Jesters to be improv companies like WIT and the Covert Theatre. They're a collective of improv actors of varying levels, some professional, some who may or may not workshop together and put on different shows comprising of different actors within the company under different show names. The Improv Bandits are a troupe, not a theatre company (although we're now part of the wider Covert Theatre, we still workshop separately). We're a small group of performers who workshop and perform together as The Improv Bandits and have done for 16 years. We have grown over the years and some have come and gone but our least experienced member of the troupe has been a part of the Bandits for the last 11 years. I'm struggling to think of another troupe in NZ with this history - but perhaps you can.

Your comments seem petty and don't really have anything to do with the great review we got of our 16th birthday show. We had a great time performing world-class improv, a shame you missed it. 

sherlock November 17th, 2013

I think Wade's got a bit Wewege with his CV in his "double-world improv champion" claim. I'm assuming one of his 'world championships' refers to The Improv Bandits win in the Super Cage Match format at the ImprovOlympic in the 2002 Chicago Improv Festival. According to Chicago Improv's website, this is a match where teams, "compete one on one as the audience votes on a winner. The winner goes on to the next round until one team is left standing. Prizes include a six pack of Goose Island Beer for each member of the winning team and the first ever cage match trophy." So, while it's great that Wade and his team won one show out of over 30 in a festival that was never designed or marketed as a World Championship, it's a bit cheeky to claim he's a world champion. At this competition there were teams from the U.S, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, and Japan which is hardly representative of the whole world of improv. Not sure where the second world improv win occurred, maybe he won a MICETRO in Chicago the year after.

As far as I know there is no official World Improv Championship anyway. Lots of festivals have names like 'World Domination Improv', or 'World Cup Improv', but the reality is the teams competiting usually consist of lots from locations near the festival hosts and a few from further away who can afford to fork out enough for an airfare. Most festivals aren't even run as overall comps, they are created so impro practitioners can come together to watch, play, learn from, drink beer, and hopefully cop off with each other.

But in Wade's defence lots of impro troupes around the world claim to be 'world champions' and impro's all about making stuff up so why not do it on your website. One other little thing, apparently Wade started the Improv Bandits in 1997 with a "desire to create NZ's first real narrative style improv troupe."Troupes like The Improvisors in Wellington, Auckland Theatresports and The Court Jesters in Christchurch have been doing long form narrative formats like Harold and Triple Plays, and 60 minute open scenes since the late 80's.

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