A perfect ‘mix’ of improv

For anyone who has ever watched any sort of improvisational comedy, whether it be the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” or a live show, they know it’s essential for the troupe to draw on current events that will matter to the audience.

“In this game, they’ll be kissing for 34 hours straight hours,” Jeffrey Mondoro, senior finance major and member of the Mixed Signals, quipped right at the beginning of the improv troupe’s first show of the semester on Sunday Sept. 19 in the Library Auditorium.

He was of course referencing the world record that had been broken less than an hour before by Matty Daley, senior English major, and Bobby Canciello, sophomore interactive multimedia major, for longest kiss. The kiss was referenced several more times throughout the performance.

“We are (the College’s) premier and only improv comedy troupe,” Mondoro said. “That’s for everyone who didn’t know why you are here.”

Mondoro acted as MC for the evening, and the rest of the troupe got down to business, playing such games as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Party Quirks, Time Warp, Rewind, Half Life, World’s Worst and Ding and Sing.

Highlights of the show included Party Quirks, where Mondoro, while collecting suggestions from the crowd, got a little baffled by some of the words the audience was throwing out. After hearing “narcoleptic reptile” and “hypochondriac” in a row, Mondoro admitted to a roar of laughter, “I don’t know what these words mean.”

Luckily, the guys who got stuck with the quirks, Steven Avigliano, senior English major, and John Eldis, junior psychology major, did. It took Dan Loverro, sophomore biology major, a little while to figure out the quirks, which also included junior women and gender studies major Liz So’s quirk of her teeth falling out, but he eventually guessed all three.

Another game, Rewind, had the whole group jumping in and out of scenes that followed the same plot thread, but kept introducing new characters to advance the story. The best part of this game was when Mondoro, playing junior women and gender studies major Liz So’s father, talked about what he found in his 25-year-old daughter’s drawer — Teletubbies.

“You are too old for Po and you’re too old for … the other three,” Mondoro exclaimed in a great “dad voice.” Things only got funnier when Avigliano stepped in as Mondoro’s strained wife.

Another success was Half Life, played by Loverro, Mondoro and Jillian Hernandez, senior philosophy major. They had first two minutes, then one, then 30 seconds, then 15 seconds and finally, just one second to act out the same scene about cement drying in unfortunate places.

Ding and Sing saw Avigliano and Hernandez acting in a scene about the Mexican-American border where they had to burst into song any time a fellow Mixed Signal said “ding.”

“Are you speaking Spanish in America?” Avigliano sang.

“No,” Hernandez responded. “And that’s a ‘no’ in English, not a ‘no’ in Spanish!”

Finally, the Drunk Game, which featured So and Mondoro, was the most memorable of the evening. So was a Catholic priest training new priest Mondoro. But the twist was that every time someone said “ding,” So had to act one drink drunker. By the end, So was staggering around, having had at least 20 metaphorical drinks, and gazing into the distance while saying breathlessly, “Sometimes, if I concentrate hard enough, I can feel God turning the world on his finger…”

The Library Auditorium was very near capacity with people (with many having to sit on the floor in front).

“We always love seeing that many people in the audience,” So said. “We all had such a wonderful, wonderful time … It’s a really great feeling to know that people enjoy coming out to see our shows, especially when we have such a happy and receptive audience … It might sound cliché to point out this cliché, but the more we know our audience is enjoying the show, the more fun we have on stage!”

“What’s great about being in the Mixed Signals, and all improv in general, is that it gives you an opportunity to play the way you used to when you were a kid,” Avigliano said. “Just imagining situations and being silly. There’s nothing else I can find yet in the ‘adult world’ that offers anything like that.”

The Mixed Signals are holding open auditions for new members on Oct. 2. If you’re interested, contact them at HYPERLINK “mailto:mixed@tcnj.edu”mixed@tcnj.edu.

“We urge anyone who is even faintly interested in potentially doing improv comedy to come out and audition,” So said. “I was on the fence about auditioning, but auditioning was easily the best choice I have made since coming to college!”

Caroline Russomanno can be reached at russoma4@tcnj.edu.