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Enjoy a 'Spontaneous' night out

Koppett gives some credit for the genre's growth to television shows like "Whose Line is it Anyway," in which celebrities would create characters, scenes and songs on the spot. She also noted that colleges often have improvisational troupes, which has sparked interest among students.

For its part, MopCo has branched beyond its regular shows to find both audiences and performers. It travels to schools and offers a drop-in class on Saturdays. On the fourth Thursday of every month, MopCo hosts an "improv jam" in Robb Alley at Proctors. Koppett said two or three of MopCo's current members cast came on board after attending a jam.

The prevailing attitude at the jams is "whatever happens, happens" said Koppett, noting that everyone from professional actors to people who have never been on stage have taken part in the jams.

Some people might be scared off by how quick on their feet improv artists seem to be, but Burns said anyone can improvise.

"You improvise everyday," he said. "You woke up this morning and there was no script next to your bed."

One of the keys to improvising, Burns said, is not to try too hard. It's easy to think, "Ooh, I have to be clever now," he said.

Instead, a good improv artist simply goes with the flow, he said. He's noticed, in fact, "that the audience is most delighted when we state the most obvious things."

One of the advantages MopCo members have is that they are familiar enough with one another that when one begins improvising, others can almost sense the direction is which the story is headed.

"When you play and work together a lot, you don't read each other's minds, but it almost seems that way," Burns said.

MopCo's next big show is "Tapestry," which will also be staged at Upstairs at 440. Burns described "Tapestry" as "the weaving together of stories," with cast members taking story suggestions from the audience and ultimately showing a connection between the seemingly disparate ideas.

The Mop and Bucket Company will perform "Spontaneous Broadway" at Proctors Upstairs at 440 on Jan. 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and Jan 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.proctors.org/places/440. "Tapestry" takes the stage in April. ""

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