a comedian’s profile: pippa evans

My co-editor, Emma, and I interviewed Pippa Evans for the Spring issue of Razz My Berries. We had both seen Pippa perform with the improvised comedy group, ‘Showstoppers’, and loved her as her alter-ego ‘Loretta Maine’. Showstoppers are currently on at the Ambassador’s Theatre in the West End. You can see Pippa Evans on BBC2’s hilarious improv show ‘Fast and Loose’!

When did you first get into comedy and improvisation? I first got into this lark when I was eighteen – I did two stand up comedy courses and performed stand up about twenty times, before deciding I had nothing to say and packing it all in. I then decided to do straight acting, but I returned to comedy after a children’s tour of Italy playing a Donkey called Gilbert. It was not a great play. I thought “I need people to be laughing at me because I want them to!” So I started working on my character comedy. Impro, however, I fell into by accident. Although I always loved it, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and be asked to join a particular group in London, which led to the next group, which led to Showstopper.

Were you the “funny one” in your group of friends? Yes. Well, I think so. Unless they were humouring me.

We’ve both been to see the improvised musical “Showstoppers” which you are part of, and we loved it! Is it difficult to produce a brand new musical every night? Sometimes it is so easy we think “We could do this every day for the rest of our lives” and sometimes it is so hard we think “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING THIS TO OURSELVES FOR!!??!!” So it depends.

Have you ever had a mental block on stage, and how do you cope if it happens? We look after each other. If you can’t think of anything for whatever reason – someone else will save you. I once couldn’t think of a name for someone and just called them “Man”. It worked out fine!

We both love your character Loretta Maine; how do you come up with new personas; is she based on anybody in real life? Loretta is like TOTALLY me between the ages ofnineteen and twenty five, added to a bit of Courtney Love and a sprinkling of ex-boyfriends. She is so much fun to be!

Do you prefer performing stand up in character, or as part of a big improvisational group? I love both. Showstopper is great because we create something together and it is like playing with your bestest pals, but then there is also something great about sharing what you have written with an audience on your own. So doing both means I get the best of both worlds!

What advice would you give to budding student comedians? Who do you think you ARE? Not really. Write jokes, do them on a stage, don’t worry if people throw things, they will learn to love you.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be doing instead? I would be a fat old lady in a cottage reading books and making jam.

We also have a few questions for Loretta Maine (pictured) if that’s OK: What is the last thing you ate? Your mom.

Apart from screw top wine bottles, has anything else revolutionised your life? I tell you WHAT – my agent started swapping my beer for Becks Blue – the alcohol free kind. For a week I felt like I was on a detox. COS I WAS. I was so pissed. and not in your English sense. I was like “Agent – get your ass over here” and then I smashed him in the face and made him buy me vodka. I am back to normal now. Sorry – what was the question?

If a stranger asked you to razz their berries, what would you reply? I’d rather cup them.



Published in the Spring 2011 issue of Razz My Berries Magazine.


quick thinking, award winning, and knicker-wettingly funny

Quick thinking, award winning, and knicker-wettingly funny; the cast of Showstopper never perform the same musical twice. Each night this talented group of all singing, all dancing actors and comedians carefully concoct a brand new musical. Led by both shout outs from the audience and an innovatively interrupting director, the actors flawlessly piece together a performance of comic and musical genius; with the cast having little or no control over the storyline’s direction, the possibilities are limitless. Fuelled by the audiences’ ridiculous suggestions, Exeter’s being a sisterly struggle over a handsome archaeologist set in a deathly-curse and lustful-Arabic-tourist plagued Egyptian tomb, each performance is unlike the one before.

Prompted by a telephone call from the show’s fictional producer at the beginning of each performance, Showstopper director, either Sean McCann or Dylan Emery, ask the excitable audience for a setting, a title, and a number of musical styles. Shouts from the audience determine which direction the performance will take (in Exeter’s case the cry “Yes! Exeter says yes!”), a raucous concept saved from mayhem only by the quick wittedness of the director and the cast. Not even when the shouting is over and the action is underway are the Showstoppers in command of their own musical. Just as the cast get into their stride, somehow turning the audience’s absurd suggestions into a feasible plot, the ingenious director will stand and house lights will come up. With a mischievous grin he will halt the performance, instructing the actors to embellish, rewind, or redo something in the style of, say…Lion King the Musical. After a brief pause for the inevitable giggles, the Showstoppers propel the musical on, never faltering in spite of the undeniable potential to; moments of tension transform into glorious moments of inspired creation.

The Showstoppers didn’t disappoint when they graced our very own Exeter Northcott last week, impressively managing to seamlessly incorporate an ABBA themed wedding, the body of a (questionably) dead explorer, a spaghetti western-esque harem and a religious-proverb spouting camel into an hour and a half of improvised triumph. Complemented by resourceful and imaginative musicians, the award-winning cast’s wit, skill, and wholehearted enthusiasm undoubtedly leaves each member of the audience with a grin on their face and the persistent urge to break into improvised song.

Published in  the Arts section of The University of Exeter’s student newspaper, Exeposé, on February 21st 2011.

eleven characters, two men: kupenga kwa hamlet


Everyone thinks that they know Hamlet, but no one knows it like this. Hamlet is probably the most produced (and most quoted) of Shakespeare’s plays. It is the archetypal tragedy, covering all bases: murder, revenge, potential incest, doomed romance, and of course a climax which results in the demise of pretty much the entire cast.

The latest offering from Two Gents Productions is the clever and captivating Kupenga Kwa Hamlet. The name fittingly translates as ‘the madness of Hamlet’; theirs is certainly a unique take on the Shakespearean classic. Performed in a tiny space with only a musical instrument and a mat as props, this Hamlet adaptation is staged by two orange-jumpsuit clad Zimbabwean actors. Between them, Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu share all the roles, seamlessly flitting between playful and grief stricken. Although the ratio of eleven characters to two actors should be confusing, their energy, alongside a simple hand gesture which indicates a change in character, is more than sufficient. Their performance is both amusing and engaging – most so for the unsuspecting audience members who are dragged up on stage during the infamous play within a play (thank god I didn’t sit on the end of the row). The tiny Ustinov theatre has an intimate feel which effortlessly involves the audience; we become the missing characters, the blanks in the conversation, and part of the play itself.

Somehow, from the doom and gloom of Hamlet’s story, they manage to pull out some humour. As well as their giggle-worthy depictions of a sassy Ophelia, and inspired re-imagining of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as witch doctors, the introduction of African rhythm and song makes theirs a lively production of this tragic tale.

The final scene is handled skilfully; the action being retold by the gravediggers as the actors fall in and out of character, killing each other in succession to the soundtrack of a catchy African song (four days later, it’s still stuck in my head).

The ‘two gents’ perform the first quarto version, cutting the running time down to just under an hour and a half. Whilst losing a lot of the dialogue, this actually makes sitting through Hamlet a much more enjoyable experience! Kupenga Kwa Hamlet is an original and thoroughly enjoyable play; the actors’ faultless and charismatic performance left me wondering why you would ever need more than two actors.

Published in the Arts section of The University of Exeter’s student newspaper, Exeposé, on November 22nd 2010.