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If anyone had entered Houston Hall Auditorium Monday night, they might have been a little surprised to discover students squirming on the dirty stage. And jousting with each other using 10-foot poles. And zooming around the room on mountain bikes. And doing their best to be funny. But it was just another rehearsal for Without a Net, the University's only improvisational comedy troupe -- whose fall show, Dial M for iMprov, opens tonight. While the essence of improv necessarily lacks structure, hours of practice are required in order to determine the practicality and humor of each routine. The company was founded in 1985 by two enterprising students who staged their first improvisational debut following a dismal opening of collaborative one-act plays. The enthusiastic reception of their humor fueled their desire to create the group. Since that time, performers have created a list of games or scenes to perform, with titles such as What Happens Next?, Dueling Storytellers, and Blob. Within the limited framework of these scenarios, the actors improvise a skit on the spur of the moment relying on a word from the audience and a random tune decided by the pianist. According to group members, audience participation is crucial to each performance. "The audience says something and then sees it on stage," College junior Adam Abraham said. "They feel that they are shaping the show and it makes it funnier." "[Audience participation makes it] a lot more fun than sitting still and trying to be quiet," added College sophomore Yasmin Tuazon. The group also relies on weekly performances to tone up their skills. College senior Stuart Gibbs, the "Head Moron" of the troupe, added they are also asked to perform at a variety of University functions. An avoidance of raunchy humor may be the reason. "The troupe tries not to be offensive," four-year veteran Brad Krumholtz explained. "There are so many ways to get cheap laughs. We want our humor to be intelligent." College junior Kent Davis added that the skits are based solely on the power of the imagination. "Some weirdo, bizarro realities are created on stage, [such as] alternate dimensions and mutant mushrooms from Venus.," Davis said. The show opens tonight at 8:00 p.m. and plays Saturday night at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. in Houston Hall Auditorium. Tickets are $5 and on sale on Locust Walk. Free Sunday night performances in High Rise East Rathskellar will commence next semester.

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