MopCo actors performing in “Chortle Combat.” Co-director Michael Burns said some formats the group tries don’t stick, but “Chortle Combat” is definitely a keeper. MopCo will perform “Chortle Combat” at Proctors Theater in Schenectady through the end of September.
continued The first act usually involves smaller, shorter skits. Koppett gave an example of a director who wants to focus on passion, “explore what people care about.” He or she might ask the crowd for 10 or 15 words, and then have the actors create scenes where they demonstrate passion for one of the words.
The second half, meanwhile, tends to be “longer-form” improv, meaning it’s one continuous story or play. The audience might be asked to suggest the title of a made-up musical, and then the actors spend the rest of the show creating it. An actor might have to tell a true story based on a word from the audience, as was the case when someone shouted “Licorice!” and Koppett took the audience back to her childhood visits to her grandmother’s. From there, she talked about her grandmother’s early life in Russia and how she eventually came to the United States. The story was a springboard for the other actors to “pull out stories, songs and scenes” for the rest of the show, Koppett said. One acted out someone sharing the history of his or her family. Another built a scene around the idea of being an outsider in a new place. One did a scene about drinking vodka.
The format, Koppett said, is fun for the actors because it gives them a chance to do so many different kinds of improv. “It’s a great training ground,” she said. “It helps them feel supported and successful.”
To that end, Mop and Bucket recently cast four new members, who will be getting their feet wet here and there for the next few weeks before a welcoming show in early October at Proctors. They had limited improv experience, but Burns said he and Koppett have been hoping to land each for a while.