CONFIDENCE and the ability to turn around an idea in a heartbeat.

That is the key to improvised comedy, according to Tom Livingstone from The Noise Next Door.

The 33-year-old has been a part of the acclaimed improv comedy troupe for a decade and has made turning random audience suggestions into jokes, stories and games into a fine art.

It is a world away from the usual stand-up circuit where jokes are usually finely polished before being repeated again and again.

Tom said: “It’s different every time and that’s what makes it fun for us on stage. The audience seems to appreciate that – the fact that we’re visibly having fun and we’re as excited to see how the show turns out as they are.

“A lot of the time we will ask a specific question to inspire them and then we’ve got songs and themes and set ups that we make the suggestions a part of.”

The Noise Next Door formed when Tom met uni mates Charlie Granville, Matt Grant and Sam Pacelli in Kent.

Tom added: “We were all part of the drama society and someone said: ‘We need a show next weekend as part of this arts festival’.

Winsford Guardian:

“No one had a show so a group of us decided to do that thing they do on Who’s Line Is It Anyway?

“It was terrible but we found it fun – so we learned and we practised and 10 years later here we are.

“At first it was gigs at university bars and stuff like that. It was all just chaos.

“But that chaos started to hone itself down into borderline organised chaos and by the time we graduated a few people started to pay us for this organised chaos and we thought maybe there’s a job in this.”

And chaos is where the Chortle Award-nominated group still thrive as they are very rarely stumped by the audience.

Tom said: “We can’t rehearse because we don’t know what the audience is going to say so what we do is more like training to make us react quicker to information.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time so our brains are pretty quick. We’re not very good at anything else in the world but we are quite quick at turning around an idea.

“But you definitely find yourself saying: ‘How did we get here’ quite a lot.

“Obviously, we’re the ones on stage doing it but we really are at the whim of our audience.”

Those audiences have included the likes of corporate dinners, the British forces, secondary school students and wedding guests but one of the craziest was at a certain festival at Donington Park.

Tom, whose improv group has shared a stage with Michael McIntyre, Al Murray, and Harry Hill, added: “Download festival is one of the weirder ones on the list. We’re four silly performers and they’re all heavy, angry, bearded goth men.

“On paper it doesn’t work but actually they’re just a really fun audience. Having an audience who all have something in common makes it really fun.

“All we need to do is know a little bit about what they love – and I happened to know quite a bit as I was really into that music as a teenager – and they’re just really excited that you care.”

Despite the show being based on random audience suggestions, Tom admitted there are two words that come up more often than not.

He said: “For some reason audiences love the words spatula and penguin. The other thing is anything big in the news will come up a lot.

“They come in waves but spatula and penguin? They’re eternal...”

The Noise Next Door is at the Pyramid on Friday, February 15. Visit pyramidparrhall.com