Russell Fletcher

Alums | 1996 - 2004

Impro Melbourne's first Artistic Director, also a performer and Producer.

About Russell
Best known as a comic improviser and solo entertainer, Russell is audience warm-up and contestant audition host for FAMILY FEUD.

After Flying Pig folded, Russell Fletcher and Chris Keogh established THEATRESPORTS MELBOURNE, which eventually became Impro Melbourne. Russell first play Theatresports in 1985/6. and was on THEATRESPORTS for ABC TV recorded in 1986.

As a theatre actor he has worked with MTC, Arena and Red Stitch, and has played in national and overseas tours of YES PRIME MINISTER, THE 39 STEPS, TWELVE ANGRY MEN, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) and CERTIFIED MALE.  On TV he has portrayed everything from a Russian private eye (BLUE HEELERS), and a Welsh Chartist (DEATH OR LIBERTY), to Father Ricky from THE ADVENTURES OF LANO AND WOODLEY. Russell hosts the hilarious improvised musical, SPONTANEOUS BROADWAY, and has appeared on WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? (CH 4 UK). His award winning solo cabaret, JEST LIKE DANNY KAYE has toured Australia, New Zealand, and received two five star reviews in Edinburgh.

Russell and his partner Sarah Kinsella – The Decent People - create entertainment and training packages: quiz’s, MC, bespoke comedy characters; and they direct and coach staff performances for conferences and events. Russell has over 25 years’ experience in communication, team-building, leadership and presentation workshops for training and development programs.

As a comedy director and dramaturg, Russell crafts acclaimed comedy performances with some of Australia’s top comedians.

How has improvisation added to your career or life?
I can’t imagine my life without it. I thank Keith Johnstone every day. A revelation when myself and a company of actors from Rusden toured to the Salamanca Festival in Hobart and Theatresports was introduced to us.  SInce then it has given me countless opportunities to perform or teach. I try to bring its principles of collaboration and playfulness to every work situation. The biggest rush in performance comes from improvisation. I’ll never forget the moment we won the 1987 state championship at Hamer Hall. The roar from the crowd blew our heads off. Truly Colosseum Theatre.
What has Impro Melbourne given you?
Impro Melbourne has continued the heritage of Melbourne improv in the 1980’s and early 90’s that I was so much a part of. It gives me great pleasure to see that impro has evolved beyond Theatresports and continues to spread positive messages to performers, audiences and schools. I established Late Nite Impro with LA based improvisor Brian Lohmann at the 1995 (96??) Melbourne Comedy Festival. They gave us the cloak room in which to jam with visiting and local comics on a Friday night. I’m also very chuffed that Impro Melbourne has kept that going.
Can you share a favourite Impro Melbourne moment?  Either on stage or off.
Although I haven’t performed very much with the company over the last 20 years, there’s plenty of moments from hosting or performing Celebrity Theatresports that give me great joy. I can’t remember ANY of them of course. I guess my favourite Theatresports moment came when my team was playing Goldilocks in the style of The Young Ones at St. Martins in about 1985/86. I entered the "forest" through the auditorium as Vyvyan (the punk) playing Goldilocks. The crowd reaction gave this dorky, anxious, red haired drama student the confidence to think he might be ok.
Any words of advice for improvisers?
You don’t own improv.