Grand Theft Impro

No Success Like Failure


“Was that scene a fail? Or a complete?” Amy scans the crowd expectantly. Behind her, fellow improvisers Rik, Jenny, Rama and Tim await their fate. They’ve just gone deep into a wonderfully bizarre scene titled “I Jinxed My Wife” which involved a witch, a wailing villager and are understandably unsure of their futures. And then comes the roar. Like a bloodthirsty coliseum, the mob cries out “fail!” and a sea of thumbs pointing downward are duly presented. And so it goes for these brave souls. They’ve failed. Horribly. On opening night. In front of a full house who know their power. And how do our heroes react? They’re bloody delighted.

Grand Theft Impro is a deceptively simple concept. A small cast asks the audience for ten scene titles. Anything will do. Tonight’s collection runs the gamut from ‘First Day in the Army’ and ‘The Never-Ending Burrito’ to ‘My Rubber Ducky Sank’. The cast’s goal is to perform ten scenes that do justice to each title within an hour. After each scene, the crowd gives their verdict: ‘fail’ or ‘complete’. Failed titles will be repeated ad infinitum until the audience is pleased with their efforts. It’s part democracy, part firing squad.

The crowd is beginning to test out their powers. The first ‘fails’ are called softly, reluctantly, perhaps not wanting to hurt the players’ feelings. But this ensemble doesn’t want their pity. It’s not about completing their task. It’s about genuinely finding that magic moment. It’s about pushing themselves to higher and higher levels creativity, madness and glorious stupidity. The half-hearted ‘completes’ are rejected by the team. “Oh, that was definitely a fail!” Rik exclaims.

Suddenly they’re really in the groove. Amy and Rik present a a star-crossed couple whose passion seems to rely on their interest in rare coins. Rama sells those never-ending burritos, with fatal consequences. A hairdresser takes revenge on an unfaithful client in the case of ‘The Accidental Mullet’. Jenny is brought back from the dead in ‘I Fought Lightning and Won’, her hair standing wildly on end.

One of the last titles, ‘Magic’, captures the spirit of the whole endeavour. There are three or four quick-fire fails here. Time is running out and the cathartic notion of failure - the big bad wolf that stalks our daily lives – has been fully embraced. Tim and Rik are poking that wolf in the nose, their efforts are almost comically pitiful – Tim pulls a rabbit out of a hat and whispers, ‘magic’! Rik and Amy follow suit ending their tries with the same whisper, now a running gag. The ‘fails’ are gleeful and unanimous. As an antidote, Rama comes to the fore and (accompanied by musical wiz Pan) sings an earnest song about her belief in magic. With a childlike, Artful Dodger accent she implores the crowd to affirm her belief that she can disappear, or find your card, or best of all, fly. Rik counters – magic dreams are futile, gravity and the laws of physics will thwart her every time. But not tonight. Rama rises, her feet leave the floor. She is delirious to have escaped the predictable bounds of this earth. It doesn’t matter that we can see Tim and Jenny lifting her up, we’re with her. We’re flying.

Calamity strikes. Time’s up and there’s still two titles left. Tim is singled out to perform the ‘forfeit’ – a mystery task in a red envelope. His punishment? To ask God to make him a better improviser. He sings a heartfelt plea to God, to be given the gift to “create without fear”. Tim’s prayers are answered not only by God, but also by Vishnu, Buddha, Kanye West and the Easter Bunny. Fear of failure. In impro it’s often unavoidable, even inevitable. But with these playful and dedicated clowns of Impro Melbourne, failure has never been so much fun.   

Written by Rhys Auteri: member of the Impro Melbourne Rookie company
Book Tickets for the final shows of Grand Theft Impro at the Comedy Festival



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We are Improvisers by Rik Brown

We are improvisers. Bleeding creativity for your amusement. Attempting to harness the untameable.  We are side by side in a sea of possibility, standing on a surfboard of spontaneity, catching waves of inspiration towards the beach of artistic satisfaction. But look out for the sandbar of confusing analogies. Hit one of those and you will lose your surfboard. Limited edition surfboards like that are hard to find. It was made of Spontaneity for goodness sake. That stuff is hard to refine into suitably buoyant materials that are required for the manufacture and sale of surfboards. And now you're stranded on a sandbar, surrounded by Sharks of Insecurity! 

Which sounds bad because Sharks! But Sharks of Insecurity are actually a confusingly named type of porpoise. And as we know, porpoises are just a type of dolphin. And, little known fact, dolphins are just a type of tuna. And tuna is delicious. As are tacos. And Bunnings sausages. But the only way to defeat the "Sharks" is to use the Flying Spin Kick of Teamwork. Followed by the One-Two Punch of Bold Character Choices. But sometimes just before you punch a shark you look into its eyes and see a glimmer of intelligence there. A hint of emotion. A shred of empathy. And the two of you end up chatting for hours about Jungian theory and about a possible second season of Jessica Jones and whether or not you should send a joint email letting Lin-Manuel Miranda know how impressed you are with his mad skills.
He probably has heaps of surfboards.

Made out of all sorts of stuff. Like disappointment. And you're like, why do you have a surfboard of disappointment and he just points to a cross-stitch above his dartboard which says "There are no small surfboards, only small actors". And even though you don't get it you smile and say "Good one Lin-Manuel. Good one" . Then you close your eyes and throw your third dart. You NAIL it and Lin-Manuel Miranda makes up a quick rap where he rhymes "One Hundred and EIGHTY" with " Secretary of STATE-Y"
Its a pretty great night and you can barely remember how it all started.....then you blink and wake up. You're still on the're dehydrated....close to death.

Grand Theft Impro @ Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Friday and Saturday nights to April 22nd.


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We've gone and done something crazy...

New workshop added with Tim Redmond for December! Book now.

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The Reviews are in!

‘FIVE-STAR ENTERTAINMENT’ ‘OFF THE CUFF GENIUS’ ‘DYNAMIC’ ‘VIBRANT’ Read what the reviewers say about Grand Theft Impro, Smells Like A Song & Theatresports™!

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Grand Theft Impro Guest Stars!

Here's our guest stars for our current season of sell-out Grand Theft Impro!

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