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.

They Love Oprah

Though we’re deep in the heart of the South, you don’t see a lot of rednecks walking around Charleston — at least not by South Carolina standards.

Banana Split

Recently voted Best Local Actor and Best Local Comic by City Paper readers, festival favorite John Brennan presents his recent stage hit on the kick-off night of this year’s fest.

Only the Strong Survive

Come watch young, hungry comedians do whatever it takes to entertain a concert hall full of drunk people waiting to be impressed.

Look It Up

The talented comedy team of Timmy Finch and John Brennan bring their wildly unpredictable Big Dicktionary back to the stage this week.

Harvard Squares

Our favorite faux Ivy League comedians, Harvard Sailing Team, are back. As you recall, this New York-based sketch comedy group made a big splash at Piccolo Spoleto last spring, leaving a huge buzz in their wake.

Brain Drain

Uncle Sam is under attack. Standing tall with his striped hat and Abe Lincoln beard, he’s beset on all sides by dark, evil wraiths with logos ’round their necks.

He-man Humor

Take two close friends — both trained actors and gifted improvisors — who regularly share deep conversations. Now put them on stage at an improv show and let ’em at it.

Headbangers Ball

Doppelgänger is the kind of washed-up D-list rock band you might see spouting off on I Love the ’80s. Except they might not have even made the cut.

Bear Baiting

I Eat Pandas does what it takes Andrew Lloyd Webber years to do: create a musical from start to finish all in the course of an evening. One hour, three mini-musicals, lots of laughs.

They Killed Kenny

Well known in the Lowcountry for the long-running (and all too abruptly ended) 96 Wave morning show Storm & Kenny Radio Show with Stupid Mike, Ken Zimlinghaus has moved on up to Sirius Satellite Radio and some sweet and sassy stand-up comedy in a little town called New York City.

Laugh Riot

In one of the new few stand-up performances of the Comedy Festival, New York comedians Tom McCaffrey and Steve Burr compete head to head at Tonik allowing you to decide who’s the funniest man on Earth.

Apple Tarts

Singing, dancing, comedy, and modern-day issues draped in 1940s style: If you find yourself hankering for all this and more, the Apple Sisters Variety Show is here to ease what ails you.

Reality TV

Stuart Scotten of Season Six will tell you straight out that audience participation is the single most important factor for a successful improv comedy performance.

Punch Drunk

Jokes are better when they’re true.
That’s the principle behind longform improv troupe Caveat, according to director Natasha Rothwell.

Meat Puppets Meet Puppets

“You’re going to see awesome!” That’s how Josh of The Josh and Tamra Show pitches their “45 minute, longform, improv with puppets, comedy duo.”

Frickin’ Laser

Sometimes there is a method to the madness of improv comedy. Hello Laser just has no interest in discovering it.

Cage Fighting For Dummies

Comedy fact No. 1: Chickens are funny. Especially the rubbery, yellow kind.

Hot Fuzz

Ever known someone with the gift of banter? Really, really funny banter?

Mortal Comics

The recurring role in Murder, She Improvised is that of Sir John Holmes of Scotland Yard, renowned throughout the world for the length of his, uh, investigative record and the depth to which he probes.

Like Crazy Rednecks

Not a year goes by without the latest brand of comedy being heralded as the new rock ‘n’ roll. The Pushers may not have the instruments, but they’ve got enough fans, chutzpah, and hotel bills to make a case for the affirmative.

Buck-Banging Best

It’s like a feast of funny. For the fifth year in a row the Charleston Comedy Festival has brought a whole lot of chuckles to Charlestonians.