Interview: Real Live Fake News‘ Ben Keane on improv, news, and selling out (in the good way!)

Improv inspired by audience submitted real news stories, performed at the iconic ABC building in South Bank? Small wonder that Real Live Fake News‘ one night only performance has already sold out, and has a wait list for tickets!

We caught up with performer and producer Ben Keane ahead of Friday night’s show, to talk all things inspiration and improvisation!

So first of all, what’s Real Live Fake News all about?

Real Live Fake News is an improvised comedy in the format and style of a news and current affairs show. The team will be inspired by real headlines and news stories, and find the funny through improvised scenes, songs or whatever entertaining thoughts come to the spontaneous mind!

What inspired the show?

I was inspired to create Real Live Fake News as I love keeping up to date with current affairs and news, but the news can be negative, or it can negatively affect your mood depending on what’s going on in the world. This show is a way to help everyone deal with the reality of news, by finding the funny or looking at it from a completely weird prospective, or just by taking your mind off things for 50 minutes.

It sold out really quickly – what was it like hearing the news?

IT WAS AMAZING! I was very happy when we sold the first ticket. Then we sold 10, 30, 60 and so on until we sold out. It was great! The cast loved getting updates each week at rehearsals (yes, we rehearse improv – it’s more like a sports team practice). It means so much to all of us. We are all very thankful that people are interested and keen to see what we’ve created.

How has it been working with Anywhere Festival to get this show together?
Anywhere Festival people have been good to work with. The name Anywhere Festival itself helps you get the foot in the door, and [they helped me] convince the ABC to let me host our fringe show at their site.

You’ve scored yourself a pretty cool location (even by Anywhere Fest standards!). Can you tell us a little about where you’re performing and why there?

Yes! I can’t believe it myself really. I made a cold-call to the ABC call centre in Sydney and went from there. Because Real Live Fake News has a mixture of true news stories which inspire our improvised comedy, I really wanted to have it set in a news room. Turns out, modern day news rooms only fit one news presenter, have robotic cameras and no room for an audience. But, the kind people at the ABC property management department have found a space for our comedy theatre show, and have even said they should be able to provide an old, broken news camera (like the big ones you see on Q&A) to give our show that TV news show feel!

Improv is something that doesn’t seem to be for the faint hearted performer. What drew you to it?

I’ve always loved Whose’s Line Is It Anyway?, and I was looking for a creative outlet. I found my tribe with improv. It can be scary initially, but that I think is with anything worth while or that makes you grow personally.

Improv lets you play, improv lets you tap into emotions that you might normally hold back, improv lets you put yourself in weird situations, improv is a team sport, improv lets you travel (last October I went to New Zealand to an improv festival to teach and learn from others). Improv is not a cult, but as one of our cast members (Adam O’Sullivan) would say, join our cult ;P

And, finally, what’s next for you after Real Live Fake News? Anything else in the works?

I’ve mostly been concentrating on Real Live Fake News recently, but I am acting, with an actual script (!!!), in a play written by one of the Real Live Fake News cast members, as part of the short+sweet festival in June. Very exciting! Otherwise, I’ll continue to audition and hopefully perform improv regularly with ImproMafia and Big Fork Theatre [I’d also like to do] sketches with Big Fork’s sketch show, and hopefully Cheeky Moon, if they cast me in their future YouTube videos.

And if anyone knows people from the Brisbane Comedy Festival and want to help me get Real Live Fake News there next year, let me know ;P

Thanks to Ben for taking the time to answer our questions!

Real Live Fake News has totally sold out but if you’ve got an improv itch to scratch, Anywhere Festival has a host of shows that will satisfy – check out their full program on their website!

Jodie Sloan

she/her Brisbane/Meanjin I like fancy cocktails, pro wrestling, and spooky shit.