Despite having spent 13 years living in each other’s pockets, The Noise Next Door gang still really make each other laugh. They’re looking forward to doing the same to you.
Expect the unexpected when the Edinburgh Fringe favourites bring In Charge to Norwich on 5 May. It’s their sixth national tour of improvised anarchy, with the reins in your hands.
We spoke to The Noise Next Door‘s Tom Livingstone.
Q: You’re no strangers to appearing on TV, but we have to talk about Britain’s Got Talent. What was that experience like and how did things change for you all?
BGT was a fantastic experience. The live audience was amazing, the judges had some really lovely feedback and we had a lot of messages of support when it went to TV.
Having so many new people see us in our element is always fun and we hope that a good chunk of them come and see us live.
Sadly, due to Covid restrictions we had to pull of out of the semi finals.
Who knows what might have happened if we’d been able to take that next step?! We might go back one day and find out…
Q: Why did you decide to enter and was it an easy decision? Previous BGT acts I’ve spoken to who have a live performance background have talked about the ups and downs of making that transition?
We’d considered it many times over the years but just felt like we were in a good place for it in 2020… We may have been a bit off!
We are a VERY live act. Everything we do is made up on the spot based on our audience suggestions. So transitioning to TV was an interesting challenge.
We used a combination of ideas from the live audiences and the BGT judges to show everyone watching at home just how live and truly improvised it all was.
We had some really fun ideas about what to do for the live rounds but alas lockdown rules put paid to that!
Q: You’ve known each other since university. What’s the best and worst thing about working with other?
We know each other VERY WELL. We see each other more than we see our own partners! We have become more like brothers than friends or colleagues – sure we’ll argue sometimes but we all know the others have got our backs.
Q: Tell me more about the two shows?
In Charge is our main tour show. It’s a rip-roaring evening of entertainment where we put our audience in charge in some exciting ways. It really is the show YOU want it to be.
It’s for adults – which just means that we don’t have to worry about occasional swear words and we can make jokes about pretty much anything!
Our afternoon show Run Wild! is an hour of family-friendly comedy. It’s fun for literally everyone.
We’ve had kids, grandparents and, believe it or not, a full stag do all laughing along at the same thing.
It’s not as tricky as it seems, making things family-friendly. When you can see a happy kid grinning up at you, your instinct not to swear kicks in pretty efficiently!
There are certain references and topics we wouldn’t cover during a family-friendly show of course and there’s a little less complexity in some of the set-ups, but at their core the shows aren’t that different.
Q: What’s the strangest thing audience members have shouted out as suggestions?
Audiences never fail to surprise us with their ideas. We certainly laugh and corpse at suggestions and contributions all the time. We aren’t there to be “above” the audience. We’re having just as much fun as they are.
Some particularly memorable audience interactions include once when asking for a household object a guy at the back shouted out “a Viking longboat”. He must have a very big house.
On another memorable occasion towards the end of a family-friendly show I asked for a country.
One little girl replied “pick a letter”. Intrigued, I played along and told her ‘B’! Without missing a beat she shouted “Canada!”. Brilliant.
Q: Do you ever worry one of these days you’ll blank on stage?
Look I’d be lying if I said it NEVER happened. The trick is working with the other guys around you to make the most of it – it’s never happened that all four of us blank at the same time.
Sometimes it’s important to embrace the failure… Fail with style! The youngest member of our group once had to pretend to be Alan Titchmarsh without having a single clue who he was.
Honestly it was once of the funniest moments of the show. The comedian was the only one not in on the joke.
Q: How do you keep your improv skills sharp?
By doing lots of shows! There’s no substitute for stage time. The more you do, the better you get.
Outside of being on stage we make sure we keep our brains active – word games, quizzes, and ridiculous hypothetical conversations.
One of the key things for us to do before we go on stage is to make sure we are having a fun time among ourselves. If we are making each other laugh before we go on stage then we are in good shape.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?
If you love it, keep at it. I hate to repeat myself but there is no substitute for stage time. That’s true whether you are in improv, sketch, or stand-up.
You get better on stage so find places you can perform – open mic gigs, start your own gig, JUST DO IT. We did every gig we could getting better and slugging away.
One day we struck lucky and someone in the audience of one our many shows happened to be a comedy agent.
They liked what we did and signed us the very next day. With someone backing our corner we managed to get into bigger and better gigs and established a reputation for ourselves. So effort and luck.
Q: You’re Edinburgh Fringe veterans, does it get any easier and how do you keep the fun of it alive?
Edinburgh Fringe is a thrilling, wonderful, ridiculous adventure and we’ll certainly be going back at some point in the future.
The truth is that it does get easier – you get to know the city, the way the festival works and hopefully you build up an audience that wants to come back and see you year after year! Keeping things fresh is the name of our game! Every show is different to the last.
On top of that we work very hard to make sure that every year we add totally new ideas, concepts and frameworks to the show to really keep us on our toes and mix things up for us AND the people that come back to see us.
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