Yale's "Just Add Water," with Luke Mobley ‘16, Showcases Improv at Branson

Branson alumnus Luke Mobley '16 headlined the visit of Just Add Water (JAW), an improvisational comedy troupe from Yale University, when they visited Branson on Monday, January 6. The group’s visit included an announcement at Assembly, a lunchtime workshop with the Branson acting program, and an evening performance open to the whole community.

Comprised of Yale’s funniest and most daring students, JAW performs both on- and off-campus, bringing laughter to fellow students and the world at large. They've performed at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Second City in Chicago, and schools and theaters around the entire U.S. JAW is the only Yale comedy group to do long-form, short-form, AND musical improv. This means they do short scenes, longer multi-scene stories, songs, and musicals completely on the spot. There is no planning ahead - they rely on audience suggestions for inspiration, and create the rest on the fly.

The improv. troupe shared their craft with Branson’s actors in a series of high-energy, fast moving exercises during the noon workshop. Branson students had to think on their feet, take risks, and keep up with the rest of the players. They were rewarded by much applause and encouragement, from each other and from the Yale actors.

“The workshop today went well,” reflected Mobley. “ As I get older, it becomes more about paying it forward. I would have never done improv if it weren’t for Maura [Vaughn] and now it has become such an integral part of my life.”

Branson senior Brendon Milan-Howells said, “I thought the group provided a great lesson in improv while introducing us to the idea of chorus creation that somehow worked out. We spontaneously created a song called 'Romance in Edinburgh' about falling in love with a rat. It was hilarious!”

“Working with the current Branson students was amazing because I can see that they have received the same training I did under Maura’s guidance,” said Mobley. “It gave the improv work we were doing more depth and natural ease. Their willingness to just jump in with Branson enthusiasm, the kindness they showed toward one another, and their overall courage in the work were true Branson just as I remembered it.”