What do Dame Judi Dench, a ferret and teachers with something to hide have in common? Arguably, nothing. Yet improv comedy troupe The Noise Next Door are able to improvise an hilarious scene within seconds of these entirely random, audience-generated suggestions.
The premise is this: Charlie Granville, Sam Pacelli, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Tom Houghton, five friends who met at university and formed professionally in 2007, bundle onto the stage. They are young, they are energetic, they are funny.
The show comprises a series of sketches. The parameters are set by the guys but the content is left entirely up to the audience. For example, we are treated to a song about the perfect partner. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But it turns out this audience’s perfect partner is a hairy, bee-keeping doctor with a penchant for fanny-farting and a love of caravanning.
The sketches span from song and dance to clue-based numbers, where one member of the group must guess what unlikely characters the audience has bestowed upon his fellow performers (and we mean unlikely, Charlie had a hard task in ‘being’ Stonehenge). The pace is frantic, the wit is lightning fast and their approaches to the suggestions are fantastic and bizarre.
"A London audience is more of a buffet than just a regular curry night, it’s definitely more diverse," Matt tells us. For Tom L, "A London comedy audience tend to be different to anywhere else in the country because if you go to a Newcastle comedy club they want to hear about Newcastle stuff, whereas London is so multicultural that in a sense it has its own thing going on".
So is there anything that a London audience loves to hear joked about? "Yes", says Charlie, "people love to mention Boris, in London, and you tend to get at least one Boris a show shouted out, but generally the suggestions are a lot more diverse".
Finally, if for one night they could only receive suggestions from one public figure who would that be? For Charlie, it’s Stephen Fry. Matt chooses life-long improviser Ryan Stiles. Barack Obama is Tom L’s selection. For the creativity, Sam chooses Roald Dahl’s fictional creation Matilda. And for Tom H? It’s a toss up between Alesha Dixon and Santa Claus. Of course.
The Noise Next Door perform a sold-out gig at Soho Theatre on Wednesday 8 May, but you can catch them in London again on 2, 8, 16, 21 and 22 June 2013, see website for venues and bookings. You can also follow them on Twitter via @NoiseNextDoor or visit their Facebook page. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket.