Paul Merton’s Impro Chums comes to the Wycombe Swan on April 23. The longstanding line-up of Paul, Mike McShane, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Lee Simpson, has been added to in the shape of keyboard player Kirsty Newton.

We catch up with the comedians ahead of their long-awaited show.

Is there any kind of preparation you can do before you go onstage?

Paul: For me, the preparation is having done it for 30 years.

Suki: We will do a one minute warm-up of Whoops, the first game of every Chums show, where somebody is pointed at and has to pick up the sentence.

Paul: That loosens you a bit and it reminds us when we’re playing a larger venue to not talk so quickly at first. Don’t be slow but be clear. Be pacy but not too quick.

Richard: Having done it so many times before with the same team, that trust in each other is solid and unshakeable and we’re confident in each other. People say that working together as a team makes it easier because you know what the other one is going to say. But in fact it’s the opposite: it makes it easier because we trust not to have to know what the other one is going to say. It’s not that we’ve got a code, it’s that we can wing it because of experience and trust.

Do you ever analyse what’s happened during an Impro Chums show or is it a case of once it’s done, you just forget about it?

Mike: We have a little post-mortem to talk about how something might have been more effective, but that’s about it.

Paul: The danger with doing the same games every time is that you can fall into a pattern about how you play them and you want to avoid that as much as possible. On tour, we mix up which games we do and who’s doing which games.

Richard: People come up to you afterwards and say “oh, we’d loved the bit with the so and so” and I have no idea what they mean.

Paul: Because it’s not something you have to remember, then you just don’t. You don’t even send a conscious command of “brain-wipe-delete”. It all just goes.

What are the pros and cons of touring?

Lee: I live outside London so I often travel separately, but Paul treats us to a big old rock and roll tour bus with beds, TV, a kitchen, on-board loo. It’s an indulgence but it’s absolutely wonderful; there’s a real camaraderie and fun to be had. We all do different things. Some go to the back of the bus and watch DVDs.

Paul: Having a bus means that we can get back to London and go to sleep in your own bed, so that saves on hotel bills. When you’re doing all these dates, you want to cut down on stress as much as possible, such as constantly waking up in hotel rooms and wondering what city you’re in and missing home. So if you can get home, even if it’s 2 or 3 in the morning, it’s still more preferable to hotel rooms.

Richard: And comfortable transport means we arrive at the gig in very good condition and that makes a huge difference. Panicking because a train has been cancelled and worrying whether we can get to the gig in time is not a good way to prepare yourself for a show where you’ve got to be creative.

What are the particular musical challenges to the show?

Kirsty: The main challenge is when I have to make something up from nothing and I think “what I’ll do now is this, and that might be funny.” And other times, it’ll be more like “let’s find out what’s going to happen.”

Richard: In a verbal scene, someone says something and another person has to come back with something else and the exact same exchange is happening between music and singing.

Tickets available at or call 01494 512 000.