An inside look at The Mixed Signals

By Jonathan Edmondson
Staff Writer

One day last spring, The Signal went were many people can only dream of — inside a Mixed Signals rehearsal.

The College’s premier improv troupe, The Mixed Signals, rehearses twice a week in a Kendall Hall classroom. They play games, they practice, they talk about their feelings and most importantly, they laugh. A lot.

The troupe utilizes physical comedy and wacky characters to make the audience laugh. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Edmondson)
The troupe utilizes physical comedy and wacky characters to make the audience laugh. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Edmondson)

In fact, conducting an interview with the troupe is near impossible — there are countless jokes and laughter breaks. While one tells a story, another interjects with a funny anecdote. Their chemistry is, as expected, unrivaled. There is a natural rhythm to the way the members interact, and each of them has their distinctive role in the troupe.

Steven Munoz, a senior English and secondary education double major, is the fearlessly humorous leader. As president, Munoz runs rehearsals and leads each performance. He’s supported by his trusty sidekick and Vice President Rachel Friedman, a senior history and secondary education double major, whose laughter is contagious. They are both quick-witted and deftly skilled in the art of improv, having been in the troupe since their freshman year.

Then there’s Beau Aranosian, a junior interactive multimedia major, who commands scenes with his quirky characters and well-timed jokes. Matthew Steuerer and Max Calsetta offer up a large serving of sass and humorous physicality. Nolan DeVoe, Ian Cooley, Emma Young and Emily Mullin joined the troupe last year and have quickly become favorites among audience members thanks to their contagious energy.

“When I saw my first Mixed Signals show I thought, ‘Wow, they’re so cool. Maybe I could be that cool one day, too,’ ” Friedman said.

Almost every member agrees that they were enthralled by the troupe on first glance.

The instant attraction is understandable — The Mixed Signals have a lot of fun, and on top of that, they are really good at what they do.

“I was a huge, mega-fan,” Mullin said. “I wanted to audition because I thought it would be like going to a show every practice, and I was happily surprised to find out that was the case.”

The audition process, as described to The Signal, is “long and tiring.” After an initial audition in front of the whole troupe, some auditionees are invited back for a second day that spans many hours and includes various activities to test both solo and group dynamics.

Steuerer and Munoz share a scene. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Edmondson)
Steuerer and Munoz share a scene. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Edmondson)

“We need to not only see how funny you can be on the spot, but we need to see how well you can work with other people,” Munoz said. “It’s really hard because there are people who come in and who are intensely funny and just don’t work well with us and our aesthetic.”

As many members of the troupe pointed out, improv is a distinct comedy form that takes a certain innate skill. Therefore, starting a troupe and finding the right chemistry is no easy task.

In 1996, All College Theater held a Monologue and Paired Scene competition and was looking for acts to fill the void while judges picked the winners. Matt Chiappardi and Lyndsay (Schaeffer) Korbylo submitted a proposal for an improv troupe, and they were accepted. The duo held auditions to find more members, and the act was such a success that they decided to continue.

Now approaching their 20th year as a troupe, The Mixed Signals are looking forward to adding new members to their group. They will hold auditions in October and encourage everyone to go, whether they have a background in improv or not.

During the course of the interview with The Mixed Signals, there were many questions, but none more important than this: How would you describe your experience with the troupe thus far?

The responses sum up the troupe’s unprecedented dynamic pretty well: “Damp. Growth. Dream. Leap. Opportunity. Cult. Inspiring. Joy. Wild.”

 

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