Just Add Water Visits Campus

Dressed in customized jumpsuits, members of Just Add Water, Yale University’s improvisational musical comedy troupe, drew laughter from the Andover audience as they performed music-driven shorts on a variety of comedic topics. The group’s pianist, Andi Zhou ’09, Yale ’13, toyed with major and minor chords and sound effects on the keyboard to highlight different moments during the night’s many impromptu scenes. “The music was totally made up on the spot. I also have to connect with the actors so that they can listen to the chords [and] sing along. I then also have to back up their melodies with follow up chords that musically work,” said Zhou. According to Zhou, his inspiration for joining Just Add Water originated from his time at Andover, when he was asked to play improvisational piano for a theater event. Many of Just Add Water’s shorts were prompted by audience responses. In a short about a summer camp, audience members were asked to come up with five fictional characters and the actors to play them. One of the made-up characters was Logan, a camper who was allergic to everything. “It was fun to be able to hang out with another group. Just seeing how another troupe works—what kinds of games they play, the energy they bring, and how they structure their rehearsals—was helpful for us,” said Hemang Kaul ’13, Co-Head of Andover’s improvisational comedy group, Under the Bed. “Their shows were a little bit long towards the end though. I think these improv comedy shows should be long enough that people feel entertained, but also leave the audience wanting for more at the end.” In another scene, the actors came up with the melody of a made-up song, with the audience proposed title, “Déjà Vu.” Towards the end of the show, the actors decided to put on longer scenes with clearer plots and conflicts. One of the highlights of the night was titled “Lonely Hounds in a Laundromat,” a story about a dog that developed into a love story between owners of two pet hounds. “Everything that we did during the show was unplanned and spontaneous. I had no idea that the story of a dog was going to transform into a romance,” said Hannah Slater, Yale ’13, a member of the group. “These guys were awesome! Since the songs were made up on the spot, the lyrics and melodies became a bit awkward, but it made the show that much funnier. I really hope they can come again next year,” said Vincent Mocco ’15. Just Add Water has gone on tours across the nation, according to the troupe’s website. Since it was founded in 1986, Just Add Water has produced numerous alumni that are active in the entertainment industry, including Steve Bodow, the group’s founder who is now the Co-Executive Producer of “The Daily Show,” Allison Williams who currently stars in “Girls,” an HBO hit comedy, as well as others who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and Tonys.