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Tom Young - The Same Faces Interview

Leicester's own improv group, The Same Faces are returning for their ninth year at Leicester Comedy Festival, with another round of improvised silliness. This short-form show will feature scenes, games, songs and one liners, all completely made up on the spot.

Regulars Tom Young, Allan Smith, and Dave Gotheridge will be joined by some of their talented friends, in order to bring you some of the best improvisation in the midlands, if not the country!

Ahead of shows on Thursday 8th, Thursday 15th and Thursday 22nd February at Leicester’s Wygston’s House we caught up with founder Tom Young to discuss the group in more detail.

Where did your journey with The Same Faces begin?
The group was founded in 2013, but I started doing improv in 2008. I played with one group at university, and then another in Leicester. They were fun, but very much an occasional hobby. I felt there was a way to do it more regularly, and at a higher, more professional level. We built The Same Faces with that goal in mind.

Over a decade later, and I believe we're one of the best improv groups in Britain - our team is very strong. We've all got complementary strengths, and there's so much talent and stage experience between us! And not just from improv; we all do other things - we've got stand ups, actors, musicians, and singers amongst our number. 

How easy/hard is it to throw away ideas that have worked previously?
Very easy! That's the nature of the beast! We generally get excited about the next idea and finding a way to create something brand new. Yes, there are techniques we use repeatedly, but every show is completely different. 

I've only started doing scripted theatre since 2021, and the notion of doing the same thing every night was very strange at first! If you're used to improv, going on stage already knowing the script is very relaxing! 

What’s the biggest challenge of performing in an improvised show?
The honest answer is marketing! Our main problem is overcoming negative perceptions of improv as an artform. If you once saw a bad improv group at university, that will have tainted your expectations for what we do and leaves you unlikely to take a risk on us. 

Fortunately, if we do get you in the door, we've got the tools to shatter that perception and show you improv at the peak of its potential. Positive reviews and a couple of Leicester Comedy Festival award nominations haven't hurt either! 

In terms of what's the hardest thing to do on stage, each of us would give you a different answer. For me, it's thinking of rhymes on the spot. I love our musical games, but on-the-spot lyric writing is not my strength! 

How do you prepare for a show?
The brain is a muscle and improv is a mental exercise. I prepare in broadly the same way you would for the gym or playing a sport. 

Hydration & carbs! Make sure your brain is fuelled. I'll ensure I've had plenty of water during the day and eaten well at lunch (I don't like to eat too soon before going on stage, as it makes me feel sluggish). 

Then, as with exercise, you need to warm up before you start. We have a range of warm up games we'll play before the audience arrive, just to get the group hive mind in alignment and to wake our brains up! 

Ultimately though, I'll go into performance mode as soon as my feet hit the stage. 

If there was an improvised show about your life, what would the title be?
Hahaha, now there's a tricky one. Coming up with a permanent title for a show that changes every time is a real challenge... 

How about "Every day is different"? That sums up my life pretty well. 

How exciting to be part of the Leicester Comedy Festival again, especially as a local group?
It's always great to be part of - we're so lucky to have the biggest comedy festival in Europe right on our doorstep. 

My first festival was 2009, and I've only missed the pandemic year when it moved online. So this must be my 14th festival in 15 years! 

Last year it really felt like we'd developed a "festival following", with many people excited to come and see us! Hopefully, we'll continue to build on that! 

What do you hope an audience member takes away from the show?
Enjoyment. We're not doing comic philosophy; we're not going to change your world view. Our goal is to make you laugh for two hours. A lot of what we do is incredibly silly, a lot of it is incredibly clever. If you leave thinking, "surely they can't have improvised that", then we've done our job! 

The Same Faces will be performing in the Leicester Comedy Festival at Wygston's House, on February 8, 15, and 22, 2024. Tickets are available from

You can find them across social media: @TheSameFaces. 

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