People's Liberation Improv is Hong Kong’s largest and only regularly performing English-language comedy improvisation troupe. Its comedy improvisation shows consist of several unscripted scenes made up on the spot (yes, honestly!), prompted by audience suggestions about household objects, historical characters, film styles, locations, relationships, dilemmas, crises, unfortunate personality quirks and even random words. The group’s motto is: “You say it, we play it!” The comedy improvisation genre was made popular by the stage and TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”.
The troupe usually performs on the first Friday of every month at 9pm (and sometimes other dates/times too) at the TakeOut Comedy Club, the first full-time comedy club not only in Hong Kong, but in Asia. For more information about the TakeOut Comedy Club, visit www.takeoutcomedy.com.
PLI had its successful international debut with a performance at the Portal Wine Bar in Macau on August 26, 2009.
PLI has performed in two charity Comedythons - the first-ever Hong Kong Comedython was on May 8, 2010, and the second one was on June 11, 2011. Both events, held at Champs Bar at the Charterhouse Hotel, were in aid of Hong Kong Dog Rescue.
We've also performed in:
- the first-ever Hong Kong International Improv Festival (March 3-5, 2011), hosted by PLI and the TakeOut Comedy Club
- the Beijing Improv Interactive Arts Festival (April 22-24, 2011)
- the Seoul Improv Festival (May 13-15, 2011)
- the 2nd Annual Hong Kong International Improv Festival (March 1-4, 2012)
- the Manila Improv Festival (June 28-July 1, 2012), hosted by our friends at Silly People's Improv Theater (SPIT)
- ImprovMania, a three-night mini-festival (September 13-15, 2012) as part of the 6th Hong Kong International Comedy Festival
- the 3rd Annual Hong Kong International Improv Festival (February 28-March 3 and March 7-10, 2013)
On June 28, 2011, five members of PLI presented “Life Is An Improvisation Game”, a talk/workshop about adding creativity to life and business, at the Hong Kong Fringe Club. We explained and demonstrated how the principles and techniques of comedy improvisation can be applied in life and in business for better communication, teamwork, creativity, problem-solving, productivity and just plain fun! And many brave volunteers from the audience got up and had a go at playing some improv games. Comments from participants included:
“Energised from attending a brilliant Comedy Improv workshop at the Fringe Theatre and run by People’s Liberation Improv company. It was awesome.”
“Last night was simply fantastic! You did a wonderful job!!!”
“Loved the workshop last night - thanks!”
“Session was brilliant & funny.”
So yes, we're available for hire! Contact us if you're looking for an improv troupe for your birthday party, corporate entertainment event or corporate training workshop.
So What Is Improv?
Comedy improvisation (or “improv”) involves several actors performing together, spontaneously creating funny, unscripted scenes prompted by audience suggestions. That's NOT the same as stand-up comedy, which involves just one comedian onstage at a time, reciting a fast-paced succession of scripted and rehearsed stories, short jokes and one-liners.
Who Are the PLIers?
We all live in Hong Kong.
Mr Chris Coleman (USA)
Mr Sean Coleman (USA)
Mr Pete Grella (USA)
Mr Chris Carmon (USA)
Ms Kay Ross (Australia)
Mr King Chan (Hong Kong)
Mr Nick Reed (UK)
Ms Jeanne Lambin (USA)
What Audience-members Say About PLI
“That was a great performance last night. I’m not a comedy expert, but the troupe seems to be in really good form now - good interaction with audience and among yourselves. The spontaneous response and flow of very funny ideas made it much fun for all. Bravo!”
- an audience-member at our July 1, 2011 show
“My friends and I enjoyed the Christmas improv show so
much, we're making this a regular gathering!”
- Dina Narain, about the December 2008 show
“...the only thing I have an issue with is the gestures of some performers. In London, right in the middle of comedy shows actors would make all kinds of jokes of an adult nature. That's fine, but could Hong Kong performers move their hips less because their gestures do not improve the quality of comedy performances, are not entirely decent, and serve no purpose.”
- an audience member, November 2010
“...all the audience just kept laughing all the time”
- from a review of our ImprovMania show, September 13, 2012, on the hkELD website
How Come Improv Players Rehearse?
Ah yes, we get asked that question a lot! Here's how we like to explain it: an improv troupe is just like a sports team - the players need to learn the rules of the game; practise the skills and techniques of the game, and develop a sense of teamwork and trust. But on the day of the show, we never know what's going to happen, because we don't have a script and everything depends on the suggestions from the audience.
PLI in the News
On the What's Up Hong Kong podcast, Travis Jones interviewed PLI member Pete Grella about stand-up comedy and improv - December 19, 2012
On the What's Up Hong Kong podcast, Travis Jones interviewed PLI member Kay Ross about how improv applies to life and business - February 19, 2013
Improv – what, why, how?
A list of games/scenes that comedy improvisation performers play
A whole series of 2-minute videos about improv warm-up games, explained by a professional improv teacher
Scroll down the page a bit to find the first video in the series: "Improv Warm-Ups". Below that there are dozens more.
Improvisational theatre – Wikipedia entry
The Harold (an improvisation form) – Wikipedia entry
Website of The Spolin Center, devoted to promoting the work of Viola Spolin, mother of improvisational theatre
Tools to help a scene work
“Say the obvious thing: Life lessons from improv” by Janet Bailey
“Story Spine” by an improv actor named Susan
“Generating Ideas, Breaking Writer’s Block, and Writing!”
Improv Everywhere, New York
Wikipedia entry about the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
Improv and corporate training
The website of Koppett + Company (“Thought leaders applying improvisation in organizations”), founded by Kat Koppett
“Improv and the Art of Training” by Kat Koppett
The Applied Improvisation Network
“Thriving in Uncertainty – The Promise of Improv” by PLI member Kay Ross
"All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation…" by PLI member Kay Ross