There was a fancy gathering on Saturday, Feb. 8, in the Library’s basement auditorium, as the College’s own improvisational comedy troupe, the Mixed Signals, delivered their annual “Classy Night” show of skits and games made up on the spot.
The yearly show was intertwined with a Valentine’s Day theme, with games such as Secret Valentine, Dating Game, Honeymooners and Crazy Prov, entertaining the packed house.
The show was a first-time experience for the three newest members of the Mixed Signals, as sophomore computer science and interactive multimedia double major Matthew Steuerer, freshmen interactive multimedia major Beau Aranosian and physics education major Maxwell Calsetta performed with the group, bringing the total number of performers up to 12 — which one might expect would make placement of members in specific games a difficult task.
“Not particularly,” senior computer science major Graham Mazie said of the task. “We decide who is playing what game depending on seniority in the troupe. We love our noobs.”
The other Signals were quick to agree. “It’s always a challenge to add new members to the group, but that’s why we spend so much time auditioning and training the new members before we perform with them,” junior marketing major Garrett Verdone said. “We want to make sure everyone is comfortable performing with one another. Once we’re all comfortable performing together, it’s not an issue to incorporate them into the show.”
A notable part of the Mixed Signals shows is how quickly the short scenes tend to escalate into wild scenarios — what begins as an innocent tale about love-struck schoolgirls can quickly turn into a scene involving multiple stabbings and a stun gun.
“Scenes are usually very short. That’s the nature of short-form comedy,” said Jonathan Dowler, senior history and secondary education dual major and the Mixed Signals president. “To have a good scene, you want to tell a story, but you have to do it in about five minutes. So you go in, make the characters relatable, and show the audience what kinds of shenanigans people can get into.”
The escalation, it seems, is perhaps the only planned part of these improvised shows.
“Escalation is sort of like a tool we use for our scenes,” Verdone said. “No matter what the scene is about, we try to put ourselves in the mindset to take whatever the audience has given us and take it to extreme places (whether the audience wanted us to, or not). It keeps things exciting for us and for our viewers.”
Of course, the viewers are the reason for all the crazy things the Signals do onstage.
“Escalation is funny,” Mazie said. “Everyone likes seeing the progression of a joke. It makes the audience feel in on it, and it gives the scene somewhere to go.”
The audience at the Signals’ “Classy Night” certainly seemed to enjoy the show.