ICYMI: The Improverts on Bridesmaids
We catch up with Joshua Garrett, Director of long-running Edinburgh-based improvised comedy group The Improverts, as he encounters Kristen Wiig's semi-improvised Bridesmaids for the first time
Though the Fringe director of a long-running improvised comedy group (whose previous members include the incredible Maria Bamford, Miles Jupp and Keith from The Office), I shamefully engage with very little comedy myself. I don’t watch any stand-up comedians, I rarely watch films or series that fall under the category of ‘comedy’, and I certainly do not watch any improvised comedy other than that which I see when participating in it. Whether that’s a case of me avoiding ‘too much of a good thing’, or simply not enjoying comedy unless I am part of it – I do not know.
What I do know is that I often tend to avoid comedy. The classics at least. I’ve not seen Airplane, Groundhog Day or Some Like It Hot. I’ve not enjoyed the stand-up comedy of George Carlin, Victoria Wood or Richard Pryor. And I’ve never sat down to watch The Simpsons, The Office or Friends at any point in my life. The classics, those notorious pieces of comedy which have shaped our culture as we know it today, have on the whole gone unwatched and unnoticed by me. So naturally, when I was asked to engage in a piece of comedy which I had not yet seen but always meant to, I chose to watch Bridesmaids.
My presumptions were that the comedy would be fast-paced, farcical and rather crude. I was not at all disappointed. It pains me to admit, but this is exactly the kind of comedy that I am drawn to – quick, easy comedy which in all honesty requires rather little intellectual engagement. I can just sit back, relax, and enjoy. It is no surprise then, that perhaps my favourite comedy films are Nacho Libre, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan or, when I was very young, Just Go With It. I do not suggest that these are cinematic masterpieces, or one-of-a-kind films (in fact they are all very similar to one another to some degree). But they do make me laugh. And Bridesmaids did the same. Even in the moments in which it did attempt to offer some type of poignance or seriousness, I could not help but fall for the vulgar respite which inevitably followed.
There’s two moments which I’m sure made the film for many, or alternatively, convinced them to switch off the TV and participate in a more respectable activity. First, the scene in which the bridesmaids attend a dress fitting at a hoity-toity bridal shop, only to have their venture explosively interrupted by the Brazilian food which they so willingly enjoyed for lunch; “It’s coming out of me like lava” is not something I want to have to quote in context.
The second is Annie’s airplane freak-out. The interaction between air-scared Annie (the wonderful Kristen Wiig) and her just-as-nervous counterpart (played by the film’s co-writer Annie Mumolo), as well as the interaction between Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and air marshal Jon (Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s real-life partner) were beautifully sculpted, and utterly hilarious.
Wiig’s improv talent (showcased with LA troupe The Groundlings and the 135 episodes of SNL to her name) proves that anything can be made funnier by improvising, and that’s definitely the case with Bridesmaids. As an improviser too, I often find myself analysing comedy, even everyday life, as if it were an improv scene. How would it fair on stage? What aspects of that interaction can be heightened? Made more humorous? It’s a good thing too – knowing that my brain is still astutely wired when we, the Improverts, have a 22-day Edinburgh Fringe run coming up is quite encouraging.
In fact, if you wish to pop along and watch myself and many far far more talented, engaging and just downright hilarious individuals on stage during the month of August, then you are more than welcome. I can’t promise there won’t have been any Brazillian food near our mouths though.
The Improverts, the Space @ Symposium Hall, 6-28 Aug, 9.05pm