FLEXING his creative muscle has been something that Paul Merton has always been good at.

Whether it is his quick wit on Have I Got News For You or his stand-up comedy shows, the comic is not afraid to do something on the spur of the moment.

Having been one of the pillars of improvisational comedy in the UK for a number of years, he now wants to showcase some other improv -or impro - comics. His chums, if you will.

In his new show Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, the 61-year-old welcomes Mike McShane, Suki Webster, Richard Vranch and Lee Simpson on stage with him to act out an entirely improvised show for the audience.

With successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and playing across the UK, the idea of improvising a whole show may seem daunting, but for Merton he feels there is more freedom when it comes to improv.

He said: “The difference between this and a written show is that the latter takes a lot of pre-thought and hard work, and if you’ve got a bit that doesn’t work, you think ‘how am I going to fix that?’

“With impro, there are no bits to worry about because they don’t exist yet.

“In written pieces, if there’s a very funny line that always gets a big laugh you’ve got to try and get that same laugh every night while making it sound like you’ve never said it before, so there are different sets of challenges.”

The key to keeping things original and fresh for Merton is to not over analyse the shows so much and to mix things up on stage.

With a range of different skits, games and sketches scattered throughout the show, this keeps both the audience and performers on their toes.

Merton added: “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.”

For Merton and his chums, the show is not all laughs and jokes, as members of the group get a chance to showcase some of their other talents on the stage as well.

“The audience love the musical bits,” Merton adds.

“When Mike and Suki are singing in film and theatre styles and there’s a musical number or Gilbert & Sullivan, the audience love it.

“To be able to play music is an ability and a gift that a lot of people don’t have and they admire it even more than just the verbal stuff: the lyrics and the tune just happen and it sounds like the showstopper of the year.”

Paul Merton’s Impro Chums will be at The Anvil on Saturday, 27 April. For tickets, go to anvilarts.org.uk.