Life in nerd improv’s Potterverse as Several Snakes

By Velvet Wells

The cast of Hogwarts Follies, at Toronto Comicon
Several Snakes as portrayed by Velvet Wells, in red

The Dandies premiered Hogwarts Follies*, our Harry Potter themed nerd improv show, at Fan Expo Canada in 2017 to a packed audience of over 500 Potterheads.

As we have done with Holodeck Follies, our improvised Star Trek-themed parody show, performers pick their preferred Harry Potter character to spoof. There’s always something about a character that hits our nerd button hard enough to choose them.

Why I chose Several Snakes as my character for The Dandies’ nerd improv show, Hogwarts Follies

I’ve always wanted to geek out and play the anti-hero, Severus Snape, J.K. Rowling’s most interesting character aside from Hermione Granger. It doesn’t hurt that Severus is a powerful wizard, potion master, and double agent!

Sidenote: I love Alan Rickman. Full stop. He was a great performer across many franchises and movies. I love doing impressions of him, especially as Severus Snape and Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus (Galaxy Quest).

Because Snape isn’t definitively good or evil, and depending on the audience, I can play Several Snakes, my nerd improv parody version, as a villain or a hero depending on the storyline.

I have been able to play cartoonishly overblown, subtly manipulative (well, probably not too subtle), cruel, or earnestly helpful (well, probably not too helpful).

While we pick our characters to spoof, we don’t plan our nerd improv shows.

Our characters develop on stage in front of the audience — meaning we are learning and living these characters just like the audience. Several Snakes has developed three characteristics during our shows at Fan Expo:

1. Parseltongue

He is a Parselmouth — he can speak Parseltongue, that most sacred Salazar Slytherin serpent speaking skill. He has been known to hurl a few choice swears about the kids from Gryffindor in parsel.

2. Metamorphmagus

As a metamorphmagus, he was born with the ability to transform into a variety of snake forms – his favourite is the monty python. However, as a result of heavy experimenting with potions in his youth, when he gets flustered he falls apart and becomes several snakes.

3. Babbling Curse

His favourite counterspell – the Babbling Curse – renders his opponent to utter nonsensical words. Sometimes, he does it to himself to avoid having to tell our version of Dumbledore what is going on.

Several Snakes will be back soon — we will announce the date for the next Hogwarts Follies later this Summer. In the meantime, check out The Dandies in our flagship nerd improv show, Holodeck Follies on July 14 at Comedy Bar. Looking for more nerd content? Don’t forget to read Dandy, Chris Casselman’s essay on prequels!

* The show was originally introduced as “A tour of Hogwarts School of improv Wizardry” but that title was such a mouthful. We retitled it in 2018 to align with other show titles.