“The language is German, and you are on a tour bus headed to the Grand Canyon for the first time,” Stacey Smith, co-founder of improv group Chasing Parked Cars, instructed her teammates during their practice Tuesday night.
The group took turns playing games to get ready for their Lincolnton performance on Friday — their last of the season.
The rehearsal kicked off with a round of Lost in Translation, an audience-interactive game where a language and setting are chosen at random for the improv troupe to perform.
Expect laughs and to leave happier than you came, the group promises.
“We put it out there and laugh, giggle and just have a good time,” Co-Founder Lacey Mauney told the Times-News on Tuesday. “We make sure the audience has fun and uses that laughter to carry with them the rest of their week.”
Chasing Parked Care was formed about two years ago, when Smith Mauney met during a shared course at Gaston College. They were both theater and drama enthusiasts and struck up a conversation that led to the creation of the group.
Now, there are 10 members in the Lincolnton-based group, eight of whom are local residents.
The last show of the summer will bring surprises and new activities for the audience, Smith said. The group will use their time off to work on new games and creating a new angle for their old fans, while hoping to draw in some new ones, too.
Ricky Newton, of Lincolnton, is the rookie of the group, just joining in October. He brings his ability to be random and off-the-cuff to the improv group, he said, and is excited for his hometown performance this week.
There are a few veterans in the group as well – Smith has been involved with improv for the last five years, group member Cecil Smith has been performing stand-up comedy since he was 11 and Mauney has been performing since she was 3 years old.
The comedians say their performances are most comparable to skits seen on the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Audience members will participate in the show, and will pick games for the performers to play on stage. The 10 will be battling with each other in two groups on Friday for the title of best Improv performer of the Year, who will be chosen by the audience.
Mauney recalls an activity in which two of her teammates were blindfolded and walked through mouse traps, demonstrating what they are or are not willing to do, she said.
Group member Randy Habfast, a Lincolnton native who now lives in Fort Mill, S.C. and the energizer bunny of his peers, has been with the team since it was created and relies on the uniqueness of an improv show to keep the audience entertained.
“When you’re going out to a restaurant or movie, you know what it’s going to be like,” Habfast said. “But an improv show is different – fresh and different; it’s like nothing you would ever expect.”
More than 500 games will be available for the picking, and the group will play 10-12 short or long form and all-play games. The short-form skits are high energy, fast paced and don’t last longer than 3-5 minutes.
The completely un-rehearsed, left-to-chance show is at 7 p.m., Friday, at the Cultural Center on East Main Street in Lincolnton. Tickets are $5.