In the lead up to our first Cool Story Bro at our new venue in Paddington, Big Forker Jim is interviewing a few of our players about improv, life and anything else that may come up.
Rounding out our series of interviews with our newer players, it's Ryan Goodwin, who I caught up with immediately following my interview with Janette. Janette was hanging out in the background, attempting to distract Ryan.
Jim: Typical Janette Behaviour. Hi Ryan
Ryan: Hi Jim
How long have you been improvising now?
Like 6 months now – first through Impro Mafia, then with Big Fork Theatre
You’ve done a few shows with us now
Yeah – a couple of Cool Story Bros and a GET IT INYA.
Yes, you took the plunge and did GET IT INYA, you were great! So what got you in to improv?
Not a very exciting story, to be honest it was more of a mental health reason.
That’s a good reason to do improv.
I wanted to learn to be more in the moment, and I wanted to learn how to deal with life as it happens, as opposed to constantly trying to control everything. And also learning to fail! That’s been really massive!
How far down that path to you think you are now?
You know, I think it’s had a great impact. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve felt like things are really coming together. I mean, life goes through ups and downs, but I feel like I can deal with stress a lot better since I’ve started performing again, doing improv.
That brings me to another question, would you recommend improv to anyone thinking about giving it a go?
Oh absolutely. I mean, I don’t want this to turn into the mental health hour-
Why not, let’s go full Maron on this interview.
I recommend it to everyone, because it’s just helped me so much with learning to deal with things, life I guess. Also – laughter.
Right! Laughter is so important, we don’t get to do it enough in the 9-5.
And meeting so many people from so many walks of life, who are so accepting and so open and welcoming. It’s been a real mental health win for me.
Do you still get nervous on stage?
I was talking to Mandy and she was instantly like “No”.
She’s such a baller. No, I really do. Every time before I go on I run through little mantras in my head like “Listen” – you know? So that even if I panic I can fall back on something. But I think there are some nights when you just have to clear out and accept whatever happens.
Do you have a best moment in improv so far?
There was a Big Fork Jam we did, and it was when I first really did any training about the Cool Story Bro/Armando format, and we were training on initiations. Anne had just told a story about taking her child to the Brisbane River during the floods we had here, and how it was unexpectedly dangerous. That made me think of other dangerous situations you could put your child in and for some reason this idea came into my head about presenting your daughter to the gestapo for interrogation. And so I initiated a scene with this really dark idea, and at the time I was so worried about how much of a horrible person I was revealing myself as, but everyone just burst out laughing, and was totally on board. So that made me feel like, Oh, OK, this is fun. There’s no judgement here.
In life, like, you’re told to keep your weird ideas under wraps, but you should have more of those ideas! That’s where the magic happens, in stage and in life.
On that note - what makes you laugh outside of improv?
Bad puns, the usual. Anti-funny stuff. Like OK, there’s this film “The Stupids” and the dad-
Hold on, Rewind, what is the film “The Stupids”
I’ve never heard of it. What’s it about?
There’s a family, and they’re really stupid, and they stop a villain from destroying the world.
Who’s in it?
Ummm…like one of those famous 80s Dad types, who is a goofball.
Jim: Chevy chase?
No not him, but like him. Not as famous. (ed: It was Tom Arnold) So like, the dad is trying to chase a garbage truck because he wants to get his garbage back, he feels like the garbage truck is stealing his rubbish, because it’s his.
So he sees a bike, and he says “2 wheels” and then he sees his car and says “4 wheels” and then he sees rollerblades and is like “8 wheels!” and we cut to him rolling down the street on these rollerblades, chasing after the garbage truck.
Wow. Moving on. Our beloved venue, the Visions Gallery, is closing down.
Yep, but we’ve got our new venue now in Paddington which should be incredible. Anyway, I was wondering if you had a favourite Visions Gallery memory.
Probably the first time I saw a cool story bro, I wasn’t in the show, but there was this scene about a plague of locusts, and there was this enormous tag run which just kept escalating. And the lovely Peter was just there as a straight man through it all.
Knowing lots of facts about locusts, no doubt.
Did you do acting before you came into improv.
Yes. My first role when I was eight years old was Little Red Riding Hood. I brought the house down. That got me into theatre. But I have a BA in applied theatre and a BA in film production and I’ve done shows around the place.
I interviewed Mandy, and she revealed that she’s had bit parts in both Flipper and Beastmaster. Can you top that?
I was in a scene that was cut from the Crocodile Hunter film. The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.
Steve Irwin’s film?
Yes. I was a waiter, and I was holding a tray of five glasses with nowhere to put them down for three hours straight. It was painful.
Did you meet Steve Irwin?
No, I was in the villain’s scene
Who played the villain?
I don’t know!
I think Mandy is still the winner. Who’s your favourite person to improvise with?
Oh so many – Jim, Chris, Leanne, Jonno
Just say one person
Anne. Every time we do a scene together, we just connect – our characters are always very into each other! She’s not afraid to try and find some kind of truth in a scene.
What’s your advice to those thinking about getting into improv?
What’s the worst that can happen?
If you don’t like it, oh well. But I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t eventually got on board. Like a cult.
Join us. So I just interviewed Janette, and I asked her if she had a question for you. So, here’s what she said: “What kind of characters would you say stretch you the most emotionally and mentally as Ryan the person, not as Ryan the improviser?” Wow – that’s a deep question Janette.
Very deep. I love playing the full-on, serous stuff. Getting emotional. That’s my jam. It’s cathartic.
Where would you like to be in improv in 5 years?
You know, for the first time in my life, I’m trying not to be ambitious about improv. I just want to keep learning. I don’t want this to become something stressful. I just want to have this be a thing in my life that I enjoy and that keeps me steady.
Wonderful. Thanks for siting down Ryan.
You can catch Ryan at Cool Story Bro, check out our upcoming shows for our next performance.