Frickin' Laser 

1.21 gigawatts of comedy

Magnet Theatre presents Hello Laser and Skosh
Jan. 18, 9 p.m.; Jan. 19, 8 p.m.;$12.50; Stars at the American;

Sometimes there is a method to the madness of improv comedy.

Hello Laser just has no interest in discovering it.

The eight members of this New York-based troupe are redefining the goals of long-form improv. They push themselves beyond the comfort zone afforded more commonly seen formats.

"We want to expand the world of each scene," says member Peter McNerry.

Hello Laser began by exclusively using the "Harold" form in shows. Within a Harold, all scenes begin from an audience suggestion and then ultimately tie back into each other, using characters created at the beginning of the show.

Such experimentation, McNerry says, can turn out looking as if "everything was meant to be," but it doesn't always work that way. As he puts it, the freedom to riff on each other's creations can be "our strength and our downfall."

McNerry coaches Skosh as well and believes the two groups push each other to their best performances in a spirit of friendly rivalry. Both were formed at the same time in the Magnet Theater and are making their first road trip together.

No matter who's in the audience, Hello Laser takes its art seriously.

"It's a little piece of theater," McNerry says.

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