By Parisa Burton
The Mixed Signals, founded in 1996, is the College’s premier and only improv troupe on campus. The entertainers presented their highly anticipated “Earth Day Show” in the library auditorium on Thursday, March 20, and witnessed a great turnout, with nearly every seat occupied.
According to Nancy Bowne, senior international studies major and the Mixed Signals president, the show titles are related to current holidays, and this show was not actually Earth Day themed. Sometimes, however, they tie symbolism of current holidays into their games.
Several games were performed, each involving audience participation. The troupe played a genre game, a half-life game and Lazy Eric.
In the genre game, two members had to switch genres mid scene, called out at random by one of the other troupe members. Genres included ‘teen romance movie,’ ‘horror,’ ‘silent film’ and ‘opera.’
A half-life game was performed, where two members acted out a scene in a set amount of time and repeated it in shorter spans of time, which meant the scene not only became shorter but was edited in subsequent rounds.
“My favorite game was Lazy Eric,” said Caroline Geghegan, senior English major and troupe vice president. “It’s a game where two of four people do a scene at a time and it’s rotated clockwise and counterclockwise. I like that it gives you these three-story beats you can do, and the scene has this cool narrative where you get to skip ahead or play behind between each scene.”
There was a scene with two actors, where one was talking to God in the first scene and the other had a bump on his head that he called “Bob.” By the last scene they were both possessed by them.
“We always end up having really funny gags in Lazy Eric because of that time that’s given between scenes to let things develop,” Geghegan said.
The comedy troupe does their best at making a wide array of personalities laugh.
“We like to do what we call truth in comedy, so a lot of our skits portray exaggerated versions of relationships and take a lot of stuff from our own lives, especially as a college student,” Geghegan said.
Bowne added that a large part of improv is finding the truth in comedy in real life events, and not every moment will make everyone laugh.
While comedy can be outrageous or have fantastical elements, there are certain boundaries that the troupe does not cross, which makes them unique to stand up comedians.
“We try not to make light of serious issues and have this rule of no blue humor, which means nothing that can be seen as super edgy or inappropriate,” Geghegan said. “We are different from standups because everything is improvised or made up on the fly.”
The comedy troupe also tries to steer away from political humor or current events and social issues because it’s hard to make a serious statement within a comedic sketch when everything is made up on the spot.
“The audience is subjected to a different kind of humor than they would see on a standup set,” Geghegan said. “Instead of drawing from a political stance, we’re riffing on scenarios from our own lives. The truth of comedy comes back in, where everything is grounded and relatable while still having that absurdist edge.”
The comedy troupe has held a show once every two weeks this semester. Geghegan predicts they might downscale next semester to focus on their skills.
“We have practices twice a week, working on core skills and instincts of improv scene work, through LARCH: location, action, relationship, character, history,” Bowne said. “We also review our games and give each other feedback on the scenes we performed.”
Fans of the troupe or other interested parties can look forward to two more improv shows this semester. The Rock show will take place on May 7 at 6 p.m. and the Finals Fest will take place May 9 at 8 p.m. both in the library auditorium.