Steven Lyons has been performing and teaching improvised comedy for over 18 years, including 7 years in Chicago. Steven performs with the Improv Bandits, has worked with Second City Theatricals aboard cruise ships and was a professional ensemble member and faculty at ComedySportz Chicago. We’re hosting a very short-notice workshop with Steven THIS SUNDAY - Getting Into The Scene (and Out of Your Head).
ONE: HOW DID YOU GET TO IMPROV?
I grew up watching the British version of Whose Line Is It Anyways? Then when I was at high school I did a huge total of two TheatreSports shows and was hooked. When the chance came up I joined Covert Theatre, an Auckland improv theatre that was based on K-Rd at the time. In my first couple of years doing improv I got on stage as often as possible, sometimes five or more times a week! This intense introduction to improv has been a great joy for me - I highly recommend it, I made so many mistakes on stage in such a short time, it was a great learning process. That was 18 years ago but I am still filled with joy whenever I can share the stage and create theatre off the cuff and on the fly :)
TWO: WHAT WAS LIVING IN CHICAGO LIKE?
It was amazing! I am so grateful for my time there. I got to train, perform and teach in Chicago for 7 years. It was a life changing experience to be among so many incredible performers exploring and heightening the art form. It is a great place to see the crazy delightful range of ways people improvise. Being surrounded by the comedy scene there is incredibly inspiring, but it also can be pretty exhausting. Working a day job while performing 3 times a week, teaching once a week, and also taking classes to keep up-skilling can be a little draining as time goes on. That’s one of the reasons I’m back in New Zealand trying to rebalance and to focus my energy a bit better. I loved my time in Chicago, but I definitely missed a good flat white coffee and hugs from my mum :)
THREE: MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER YOU'VE PLAYED ON STAGE?
I love to play characters that are joyously outlandish but grounded in reality. Tragically I’m not the best at remembering characters in shows that I’ve done over the years. Having moved into performing more stand-up comedy over the last couple of years has been very interesting to explore the character of myself. Finding the character traits I like, or don’t like and expanding or contracting them based on what I’m trying to communicate. I do love doing impressions so if they count then you never have to ask me twice to pretend to be an overly excitable Arnold Schwarzenegger.
FOUR: HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR SUMMER SO FAR?
Weather. I was touring some shows in the middle of America in November, where it was snowy and cold cold cold so I would say a big highlight for me would be shorts. I don’t know if you’ve worn shorts dear reader but they are great, like tiny pants for my big legs. I love wearing shorts, letting my knees enjoy the breeze. I think this is the most I have ever sounded like an old man… let the record show that in summer sitting in the sun, knees out, sipping on a fresh coffee is a delightful low key highlight for me.
FIVE: WHAT FUTURE TECHNOLOGY ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED WE DON'T HAVE YET IN 2020?
Tubes. Jestons style travel tubes. You walk out of your house and get into a pressurised tube which will jettison you to your destination in an underground array of tubes. How would that work? Tubes. Wait, maybe teleportation would be more practical. I’d like to change my answer to ‘teleportation but no creepy The Fly mishaps’. Maybe just local teleportation though, I really enjoy watching movies on planes for some reason. And also sustainable power, like safe affordable cold fusion, also that.
That was five things! Steven is our surprise first guest workshop this year. We recommend his workshop for beginner and intermediate improvisors, and anyone looking for a joyful start to their improv year. It’s on Sunday 19 October at Te Auaha, 1-4pm - book now!