People's Liberation Improv, founded in 2007, is Hong Kong’s longest-running and largest 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 comedy improvisation genre was made popular by the stage and TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”.
Here in Hong Kong, we've performed at:
- frequent shows, at least once a month for several years, at the TakeOut Comedy Club
- two charity Comedythons at Champs Bar at the Charterhouse Hotel, in aid of Hong Kong Dog Rescue - the first-ever Hong Kong Comedython was on May 8, 2010, and the second one was on June 11, 2011.
- the “Picnic in the Park” outdoor event at Siena Park, Discovery Bay, in front of about 3,000 people, November 7, 2009
- the first-ever Hong Kong International Improv Festival, hosted by PLI and the TakeOut Comedy Club, March 3-5, 2011
- the 2nd Annual Hong Kong International Improv Festival, March 1-4, 2012
- 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
- “Bollygood Movie - Bellyfull of Laughs”, a Bollywood-style improv show with bellydancers at Makumba bar, May 11, 2013
- the 4th Annual Hong Kong International Improv Festival, March 7-9, 2014
- the 5th Annual Hong Kong International Improv Festival, March 5-8, 2015
- the Hong Kong Improv Jamboree, June 10-11, 2016
On June 28, 2011, five members of PLI presented “Life Is An
Improvisation Game”, a public 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 with us. 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.”
And internationally, we've performed at:
- the Portal Wine Bar in Macau, August 26, 2009
- the Beijing Improv Interactive Arts Festival, April 22-24, 2011
- the Seoul Improv Festival, May 13-15, 2011
- the Manila Improv Festival, June 28-July 1, 2012, hosted by our friends at Silly People's Improv Theater (SPIT)
- the Beijing Improv Festival, April 18-21, 2013
- the 2nd Manila Improv Festival, June 26-30, 2013
- the Beijing Improv Comedy Festival, April 8-13, 2014
- the 3rd Manila Improv Festival, July 8-12, 2015
- the 2nd Shanghai Improv Festival, November 5-8, 2015
- the 3rd Shanghai Improv Festival, November 4-7, 2016
So yes, we're available for hire! peoplesliberationimprov [at] gmail [dot] com (Contact us) if you're looking for an improv troupe for your birthday party, corporate entertainment event or corporate training workshop.
Watch Us On Video
Check out our short videos on Facebook.
PLI’s show at the Manila Improv Festival, June 30, 2013 (44m 52s). Sorry, the sound cuts out a couple of times during the video, but stick with it.
A short snippet from the game "Angst Choir" that we performed in the Manila Improv Festival, July 11, 2015.
Scenes from our show on November 12, 2016, at Morrison Cafe, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong (44m 14s).
So What Is Improv?
Comedy improvisation (or “improv”) involves several actors performing together, spontaneously creating 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.
Chris Coleman (USA)
Pete Grella (USA)
Chris Carmon (USA)
Kay Ross (Australia)
King Chan (HK)
Derek Bednarski (USA)
Zak Knudsen (USA)
Ian Hughes (UK)
Former members include Jeanne Lambin (USA), Kelsey Land (Canada), Sara Devi Earnshaw (USA/UK), Sean Coleman (Hong Kong/USA), Nick Reed (Hong Kong) and many others who have come and gone over the years.
What Audience Members Say About PLI
“Thanks guys; I had a really great time last night! My voice is now slightly cracked from laughing straight for 2 hours!!”
Viola Yip, about the February 2014 show
“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
A tweet from audience member Judith O. in Manila on Sunday June 30, 2013:
“The performance of People’s Liberation Improv @PLIHongkong in tonight’s #ManilaImprovFest had me in stitches. Good job.”
“I haven’t laughed so hard for ages - I was hyperventilating.”
- Mark, an audience member at our December 2014 show
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
PLI member Kay Ross participated in a TV interview in Manila about improv, applied improv and the Manila Improv Festival. Also featuring Gabe Mercado, Paul Z. Jackson, Dave Cooper, Curt Mabry and Liz Ashforth. Here's the video (15m 50s) - June 27, 2013
An article in the September 5, 2013, issue of "48 Hours" magazine in Hong Kong about the Pink Season LGBT festival, mentioning our October 11 show, "Tickled Pink".
An article in the "South China Morning Post" newspaper in Hong Kong, “Flipping the script: Hong Kong group the People’s Liberation Improv provide unique comic experience” by Rachel Bundy, July 23, 2016
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!”
Other improv troupes
Seoul City Improv
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