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The Tinderellas


Interview

We chat to Edinburgh’s first all-female improv troupe and Monkey Barrel regulars

Image of The Tinderellas

There’s a buzz about Edinburgh’s year-round comedy scene at the moment, with the new Monkey Barrel club going great guns and the launch of the new Bearfoot Comedy nights in Morningside adding to the mix. So we thought we’d catch up with one of the new local comedy troupes riding this wave, The Tinderellas…

Who are the Tinderellas?

We are an Edinburgh based improv comedy troupe: Jill Cowley, Jules Miller-Bakewell, Marijke Cortenbach, Shona White and Tamarin Fountain.

How did you come together?

We met when participating in various improv classes, workshops and shows. We all got on really well and felt there was a strong chemistry between us, and being aware there was a lack of all-female groups, we decided to form our own.

What have you been up to so far?

Downstairs at the Monkey Barrel hosts the TBC Improv theatre every Sunday night. After a couple of experimental short spots there, we moved on to a regular longer slot which runs every first Sunday night of the month. Earlier in March we performed in the Presidential Suite at Murrayfield Stadium, as part of “Improving Lives”, a fundraiser for the charity Changing Faces and at the end of March we appeared on the bill with Bearfoot Comedy, a new comedy night held monthly at the Merlin, Morningside.

You’re “Edinburgh’s 1st all female improv troupe” – has that billing been a help, a hindrance or of no consequence whatsoever?

There’s been a great deal of support and encouragement from the improv and comedy communities, who are thrilled to see an all-female group in the city. There’s definitely a lot of interest in us, partly because we’re women, but partly because of our name and style – we base a lot (although not all) of our improv around relationships and dating in the modern world, subjects that have a wide appeal, provide plenty of comic material, and which so many of us really relate to. The five of us are all good friends, very different from one another, but in a way that is complementary and creates an infectiously fun chemistry on stage. Doing something that’s “all-female” is exciting, because it contributes to the celebration of how amazing, honest, strong and funny our gender is. It takes guts to get up and create comedy without a script. Sometimes our scenes get honest about the hard stuff in life, but we don’t shy away from that.

What are the opportunities like for improv these days? Do you find there’s places to perform, or do you think improv plays second fiddle to stand-up?

The scene in Edinburgh is really thriving and while it’s still quite niche, is growing at a pace. Improv is generally growing in popularity and while venues are increasingly interested in hosting us – especially the Monkey Barrel, it would be great to have even more slots available in clubs.

What have you learnt as a troupe so far?

We’ve certainly learned a lot about each other – and so have our audiences! Our Living Room format involves us chatting and telling stories as ourselves as inspiration for our scenes, so we’ve heard many stories about one another that have had us crying with laughter and sometimes, disbelief. Being supportive is a total pillar of improv, but even more so as a group of women, we know how important it is to have each other’s back. And we are immensely supportive and proud of one another off stage too, we’ve certainly learnt the value of that.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Will we see you at the Fringe?

We hope so! We’ve applied for a week at the PBH Free Fringe, so are waiting to hear if we’ve got a venue, but we all perform with other troupes too, so we’ll definitely all be treading the boards in something. And there are some very cool gigs coming up in the next few weeks…

Where can we catch the Tinderellas next?

We’ll be at Project X, upstairs in The Monkey Barrel on Tuesday 11 April, and of course we’re on every first Sunday of the month, downstairs at The Monkey Barrel as part of their Invited Improv show. The best way to keep up with what we’re up to is on social media: Facebook (where we regularly live stream our adventures), Twitter @_Tinderellas_ and Instagram

Finally, what’s your favourite improv format?

Our signature format is The Living Room. It’s so named because we sit on chairs and chat in front of the audience as ourselves, taking a word from the audience to start us off. Whenever we’re inspired by something one of us says or a story that’s told, we’ll jump up and start improvising. It’s unpredictable, riotous fun and the audiences seem to love our banter!