An Interview With Chris Turner

10 January 2012

What's the best vs. the most challenging aspect of improvised comedy?

Taking to the stage with exactly the same knowledge of what's going to happen as the audience i.e. no idea whatsoever, is incredibly freeing. Challenge-wise, you can't improvise successfully on autopilot, so you always need to crank the mental lever to its maximum. Operating on full steam is great, but it can take a lot out of you.

What inspires you when you're on the stage?

Literally anything - not just the audience's suggestions, but their expressions, their manner, and the general vibe of the room. I'm sure there's a bubbling subconscious of facts and unnecessarily stored knowledge that sees stage time as a chance to show off, and that worms its way into my act.

Who or what would you say has been the greatest influence in your life?

In terms of providing the spark for my career, it's the Oxford Imps, the improv group I joined at university. I was lucky to get through their pretty tough audition process, and receive direction and training from people who are now the leading lights of UK comedy. Of course, their spark fell on kindling put in place by my parents, and all the comedy tapes and books that they indoctrinated me with, growing up; and I'm sure all my teachers can be considered as leaving various flammable objects lying around.

When was the last time you couldn't stop laughing, and what was it about?

We were about to go on holiday, when my girlfriend asked if there had ever been a bird as big as a plane. I laughed myself to tears from taxi to take-off, when a stewardess came to check on me.

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