Mississippi State University's Lab Rats Comedy had their first show of the semester Jan. 10 called "The Magic of Comedy." Shortly after, the student-led improv group, which began in 2003, held auditions for the spring semester on Jan. 13 and 14 and were excited about welcoming new members.
The typical shows usually last around an hour and their end-of-the-year shows last two hours. At most of the shows, the group tries to include the audience. In one of the games, the performers get a word from the audience, and they have to act out a scene based on the word the audience gave.
A couple of things have changed since their last show. The troupe incorporated even more audience participation, they raffled off a t-shirt and since this year is the Chinese Year of the Rat, they have resolutions to add in two more shows and two new games throughout the year.
At this particular show, they played a game called "Story Story Die" where multiple people line up on the stage and the comedians have to act out a scene using whatever line the person before them left off with. They also played a game called "Lounge Singer" where they were given an unlikely place they would find a lounge singer and then perform like they were at the given place.
Cameron Ladner, an MSU junior, is the group's director of long form, meaning the scene has added structures that tie multiple scenes together. Ladner said the group was welcoming when he joined back in 2018.
"I joined my freshman year. I was really nervous at first and I went to the theatre meet and greet, and after I started talking to people I realized how nice and sweet people were and going to that helped me to get over the nervousness," Ladner said.
Ladner explained Lab Rats may not be for everyone but if students give it a chance they will surely feel welcomed.
"I don't think Lab rats is everyone's cup of tea and it's very personal, but it's probably one of the friendliest groups on campus," Ladner said. "A lot of people come to shows consistently and there's a great community of people around Lab Rats. Plus, they're one of the more diverse student organizations."
Thomas McBride, a junior communication major, is the group's director. In the previous semester he was just a performing member, but this semester he has taken on a bigger role. McBride said he is looking for lots of energy and most importantly efficiency.
"I just want to add a lot of efficiency to the group. We're doing fine and we want people to get practice time in. We also want to stay on critiques a little longer just to make sure that everyone is learning," McBride said.
McBride also discusses the importance of learning not just by doing but also by seeing other like-minded people in action.
"As a group, we plan on taking field trips to other improve troops in the area. On Feb. 29, we plan on going to the Birmingham Improv Theatre for their one-year anniversary. I definitely believe that if you want to be a writer, you have to write and if you want to be good at improv then, you have to study and learn improv," McBride said.
Ashlynn Lutz, performing member and junior social work major, has enjoyed being in the group and has high hopes for the upcoming semester with the recruits.
"Being in the group I think has completely controlled my college experience. They're my friend group and I think improv as itself has showed me not taking myself seriously and how easy it is to work with others," Lutz said.
"I also just want to see everyone getting their energy up and also having a lot more audience participation. I also want more raffles and more social media presence."
The last show of the semester will be on April 22 and proceeds from this show will be donated to St. Jude.
Until then, those interested can catch the comedy group's next performance Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in Moseley Hall on the fourth floor.