Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

03/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details


The Improv Bandits, New Zealand’s improv comedy sensation, are performing a special family matinee show on Saturday 3, 10 and 17 May as part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival.

The Improv Bandits have shared the stage with comedy heavyweights such as Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Dan Castenella (Homer from The Simpsons) and George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and starred in the 2004, 2008 and 2009 NZ Comedy Gala.

Now they perform a show that Mum, Dad and the kids can enjoy together.

“We did a family show in 2012 and really missed not doing one in 2013,” says founding member Wade Jackson. “I’ve had many requests so by popular demand it is back.”

The Improv Bandits are made up of eight of the best improv actors in the country headed by double world improv champion Wade Jackson. The Improv Bandits are Geoff Simmons, Greg Ward, Mark Scott, Matt Halliday, Michael Fletcher, Tony Gilbert, Tom Kane and Wade Jackson.  

Improvised comedy has a universal appeal and The Improv Bandits are masters of it. They’ve toured the world and delighted critics and audiences alike with their high-energy, fun show. They’re so good they actually make it look easy!

“It’s rare that comedy can appeal to both a young and mature audience,” says Mark Scott, long-time member of the Bandits and also stand up comedian. “Stand up usually involves adult themes and language whereas the humour in improv comes from the spontaneous nature of the stories created in an ensemble.”

Get the family together, Grandma and Grandpa too and come along for a laugh. The Improv Bandits will also be holding a special workshop for the kids after the show and teaching them some of the training exercises to improve mental flexibility.

The Improv Bandits – no scripts, no gimmicks, no safety net!

As part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival in cahoots with Old Mout Cider, grab some mates and join us for a great night of laughs from 24 April – 18 May. For the full Comedy Fest show line-up head to

AUCKLAND Improv For Kids!
Dates: Sat 3, Sat 10, Sat 17 May, 12.30pm
Venue: Q Theatre, The Loft, 305 Queen St
Tickets: $15 – $18
Bookings: (09) 309 9771 //

12.30pm Saturdays Only

A positive and affirming experience

Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 05th May 2014

The Q Theatre is decked out in its best comedy finery for the 2014 NZ Comedy Festival and it has to be said that the venue tarts up very nicely indeed. There’s plenty of informative artist and show material available and the box office team are as friendly and efficient as anyone could possibly wish for. 

Our son Finn (age 11) has been looking forward to Improv for Kids all week and knowing that it’s followed by Stand Up for Kids is a cool bonus. He shares with us that he hopes kids will be able to take part because he has, he says, “theatre in his blood.” 

The Loft is a great intimate performance space with the two qualities most necessary for a good audience experience: great acoustics and excellent sight lines. In short, there’s not a bad seat in the house. 

For this show the area in front of the stage is carpeted in red and the kids are invited to sit there, and many in the almost full house do so. Apart from one brave Mum, the parents chose to sit in the comfort and safety of the darkened auditorium. 

The Improv Bandits, it has to be said, are establishment. Formed by Wade Jackson in 1997, they’ve achieved a longevity that’s more than admirable and now, in their late teens, they, mercifully, show no visible signs of growing up.

The quartet for this performance – Wade (Jackson), Greg (Ward), Tom (Kane) and Mark (Scott)’ – take the stage, introduce themselves and immediately begin to work their affectionate charm on the kids (and the Mums and Dads). 

The warm up is warmly welcoming and happily interactive, and Ruby (the technician) is introduced as well, which is a nice touch. 

The performance set is a sequence of well-worn games that are like a comfortable pair of pants; they fit nicely and they make you feel relaxed and ready for anything. 

The ages of the kids – 5 to 13 – mean that some of the activities are, to them, brand spanking new which is great because the success of the show depends on kids’ spontaneity and the artists get that by the truckload. This is impressive because, as anyone who has performed for and with kids will know, they can go off on some pretty weird tangents if you let them, and sometimes they just go off. It says much for Wade, Tom, Mark and Greg that they manage the show superbly – and invisibly –and the kids remain focused and entertained throughout the almost ninety minute journey. 

An a cappella version of ‘Do Doo Ron Ron’ starts the show which warms everyone up and gets the brain cells working. This is followed by a spelling game with kids being asked to come up with words and my heart sinks when young Finn’s hand shoots straight up. My fears are allayed somewhat when another kid is chosen and he comes up with the word I knew Finn was going to suggest anyway – hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia – which means a fear of long words. Kids today are smart, sharp and informed and adults could do well to be wary of them at times. This is one of those times but, undeterred, the Bandits plough on with the greatest of good humour and much pleasure is had by all. 

The ensuing exercise involves an acted narrative with a theme – Finn suggested bullying which the actors take up – and a controller (Mark) who is able to reverse the action at will. The result is a riot ending with The Bully (Wade) being invited by his mother (Mark) to join The Bullied (Greg) in a pas de deux, “The Dance of the Two Bees”, that each has learned in ballet class. The message is strong, the performances incredibly funny and this is a high point of the afternoon.

Equally funny is the slowmo ‘World Rollercoaster Championship’ where, once again, the talent and the skill of the performers is paramount. The red carpet kids are transfixed by both mime and narrative and this is improvisation for kids at its finest. 

The final production number involves a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, a leprechaun and a quest. A leprechaun (Mark) mount – in the nicest possible way – by at least four kids journeying home with the gold and his untouched cup of gravy is sidesplittingly funny and a great way to wrap the up whole show. 

The Improv Bandits’ Improv for Kids is certainly a most enjoyable visit to the theatre but it is actually more than that. The thoroughly earned applause reflects just how skilled Wade, Mark, Tom and Greg have been in creating an experience for the kids that transcends mere improvisation and provides a positive and affirming experience of life lived in a substantially different vein.

Finn, in post-show discussion mode, says he really appreciated the show because it was interactive and didn’t involve humiliating any kids. He talks about “a real experience” and not just “silly stuff” which I feel is both perceptive and enlightening.

The Improv Bandits do it all again next week – same time, same place – and, given a similar set of circumstances and some open and involved kids, it’s a show I can really recommend. Wade, Greg, Tom and Mark promise “no scripts, no gimmicks, no safety net” and we certainly get that – plus a lot more besides.


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