'King of Comedy...'

Neil Mullarkey delivers improvisational workshops to people in large organisations, where the ability to think on one's feet is important, but often suppressed. The most important lesson managers learn from his workshops is that it is acceptable for them not to know everything, to be in charge rather than in control. They then learn how to allow their people to improvise around a problem and solve it together.

'Please don't make me pretend to be a tree...'

The techniques used by performers to hone their improv skills can help IT leaders to develop more fruitful relations with colleagues

People approach my improvisation workshops with some trepidation. Actually, being a tree is never on the agenda, but the whole point is that unexpected things can happen in any walk of life.

I begin by asking the group what improvisation might mean at work. Surely, we improvise much of the time? Yes, they chuckle, 'we wing it… make it up as we go along… or bull****'. There's the rub...
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'Managing my way'

Comedian Neil Mullarky talks stand up, improvisation skills and a keen interest in management

The skill that I teach during improvisation classes is active listening, so you use what the other person's given you. You've got to adapt very quickly. Neither of you involved in the scene is the sole author, but you're both responsible for the story.

'You Couldn't Make it Up...'

For more than 20 years, the Comedy Store Players have fought to spin a fragile order out of the darkest chaos. Based on shouted suggestions from the 400-strong audience that packs into a dark Leicester Square basement every Wednesday and Sunday night, they improvise comedic routines - from two-handed skits to mini-musicals. Every performance is different...

'Still making it up as they go along'

For 25 years, the Comedy Store Players have made each other laugh. Which is why improv works, says Neil Mullarkey

Where are the team from that first night? Kit Hollerbach is a schoolteacher. Dave Cohen is a successful TV writer. Mike Myers makes movies. And I'm still there, with Josie Lawrence, Paul Merton, Lee Simpson, Andy Smart, Jim Sweeney and Richard Vranch - aka the Comedy Store Players. Twice a week, without a script, we entertain an audience of 400 using their suggestions and playing the improvisational games taught to us by Hollerbach and Myers. ©2006-23 Improv Your Biz Ltd All Rights Reserved

My message is quite simple.
Work with what others offer
rather than ignore it.

This is not acquiescence;
diversity is creative.

Arguments can be satisfying when
we feel we have been heard.

How annoying is it when someone seems to be agreeing with you when they have clearly not taken on board what you are actually saying?

What's our trick at the
Comedy Store Players?

We embrace fully whatever our
fellow players come up with.

We make something work by assuming that it will work.

It's not about quick thinking.

"Thinking" would involve stepping back, evaluating the idea, rationalising its chances of working.

We short-circuit that process.

Our motto is, "Yes, and..."
rather than, "Yes, but..."

The Times