Why not use Improv to improve yourself?
If you're new to the Netherlands, and even if you're not, improv can be a great way to make new friends, have fun and express yourself. Not only that, it is a great way to work on your presentation skills and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
But where can you find these improv communities? Well, not to worry, we've done the searching for you! Here are a few expat-friendly improv groups you can join, take classes at, hire for fun team-building events, or even just to casually attend shows!
Boom Chicago (Amsterdam)
If you want to get an idea of what improv is, the first place to go to is Boom Chicago. They arrived in the Netherlands 25 years ago, with an idea and the motivation to revolutionise comedy, and thus introduced improvisation comedy to a mainstream Dutch audience.
Boom Chicago is a creative group, based in Amsterdam that writes and performs sketch and improvisational comedy at the Rozentheater. Their unique mixing of comedy styles combined with technology has been popular with audiences and critics alike. After twenty plus years, their show has become a part of Amsterdam's cultural scene.
They use comedy to create content, support messages and to make people laugh. Not only that, but they even apply their creative and comedic talent to your business needs. It’s definitely top-notch improv, for newcomers and connoisseurs alike! Feel free to take a look at upcoming shows in the Boom Chicago event calendar. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.
Sliding into the slipstream of the improv-juggernaut that is Boom Chicago, would be the international community-led group Easylaughs. If Boom Chicago is the improv mother-ship, then Easylaughs is the orbiting space station, putting out two shows every week for the past 14 years.
But where Boom Chicago aims to pull in the tourist dollars, Easylaughs has focused on building a local community of improv-lovers, nurturing home-grown talent via its training programme and providing a space for international professionals to meet, interact and get their improv going.
Like the cast itself, the performance style at Easylaughs has evolved through the years. From its early fast-paced short-form origins, they now constantly push their own boundaries with full-length improvised plays and experimental new formats and genre pieces. Recent productions have included "Dystopia" - a peek into an uneasy near-future, "Tarantino" - the name pretty much says it all, and "Musical! The Musical" - a feature-length fully-improvised musical.
If you were looking for a place to call the "spiritual home of improv in Europe", then Easylaughs, and "Crea" (the venue they've been performing at from birth) might well be it.
Act Attack (Amsterdam)
Act Attack is an international theatre community that offers fun improv and acting courses. Mainly, they see theatre as a tool for personal development. Their improv and acting courses strive to deliver a learning experience to all those who wish to grow through theatre. You don’t need previous experience. And they don’t do castings. They welcome everyone who wants to learn how to act, improvise, communicate better and be more creative!
Tag out Theatre (Amsterdam)
Tag Out Theatre (TOT) is an improvisational theatre company, created to give more stage time opportunities to performers in Amsterdam and abroad. Founded in 2015 by Nora McLeese and Isaac Simon, Tag Out Theatre is both a performance and learning resource for new and established improvisers. Nora and Isaac, who collectively have over 20 years of experience in improv comedy and theatre, founded Tag Out to grow Amsterdam's improv ecosystem.
Tag Out has five main offerings, including two regular shows, an open jam, a performance marathon, and frequent workshops. Once a month, they produce the Indie Improv Night at De Nieuwe Anita, which consists of several improv acts and the new signature Fight Night format, brought to life by improviser and comedian Alex Gilbert, in which two teams battle for comedy victory.
Every 2nd and 4th Sunday, TOT puts on Underground Comedy at the legendary Boom Chicago. These nights are for teams to try out new formats and games on one of the most prominent stages in Amsterdam.
Once a month, they also present open jam the Dam Improv Jam. Taking place at Checkpoint Charlie, these are completely open stage performances in which anyone in the audience can jump up and improvise for their friends and colleagues. No experience required.
Tag Out also produces a yearly event called the Amsterdam Improv Marathon, a 12-hour festival aimed at uniting as many improvisers as possible for one day of nonstop fun and comedy. Aside from shows and jams, TOT also puts on workshops with master teachers from across the globe.
Tag Out Theatre is committed to welcoming everyone to enjoy improv, onstage and off. To discover more, go to their website, search the Tag Out Theatre Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram (@tagouttheatre).
Chili Con Comedy (Eindhoven)
Chili Con Comedy are Eindhoven’s only English language improv group, and they have done a lot in their first year of existence. They run weekly sessions at The Hub For Expats that anyone can turn up to, workshops, classes and put on monthly shows in the city.
They mostly specialise in Theatresports style games but have been experimenting with other forms. Theatresports is a form of improvisational theatre, which uses the format of a competition for dramatic effect.
Combining a core cast with rising stars from their weekly sessions, there’s an exciting ambition about them, and they always look forward to welcoming new adorable faces in their midst! If you want to get involved, check out their Facebook page!
Find options in your city
There is plenty of improv happening across the Netherlands, so if it is something that takes your fancy, don't hesitate to join a group and let the fun begin. Who knows, you may surprise yourself!
- Amsterdam: Nutty Anita’s comedy night. Some casual underground comedy once a month. Check out their Facebook page for more information!
- Utrecht: Utrecht’s Improvables are an English language improv group open to all who meet weekly at Moira for jams with the objective to put on performances showcasing what they do. Take a look at their Facebook page to see more.
- Groningen: Stranger Things Have Happened. Stranger Things hosts free Improv Comedy Jams at Pacific in Groningen every Monday night at 9pm. Find them on Facebook to learn more.
- The Hague: Improvisation the Hague offers workshops, courses, training and FUN! Look at their Facebook page for more information.
- Rotterdam: Improv Rotterdam. Play improv games, learn from each other and, most important of all, laugh together. No experience is required, so beginners and experienced players are welcome. Check them out on Facebook!
Have you ever done improv before? Let us know in the comments!
Thumb image: ©Robin Straaijer - Easylaughs & Generic Excuse