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Improv comedy troupe the Ha-Ha’s celebrates 10th anniversary

  • The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Pam Victor, Moe McElligott, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Pam Victor, Moe McElligott, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Moe McElligott, Pam Victor, Christine Stevens and Laura Patrick.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Moe McElligott, Pam Victor, Christine Stevens and Laura Patrick.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.JERREY ROBERTS

    Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Moe McElligott, from left, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Moe McElligott, from left, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Christine Stevens, left, and Laura Patrick of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Christine Stevens, left, and Laura Patrick of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Christine Stevens, from left, Laura Patrick, Moe McElligott and Pam Victor of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Christine Stevens, from left, Laura Patrick, Moe McElligott and Pam Victor of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Pam Victor, Moe McElligott, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearses July 1 at North Star in Hadley. They are, from left: Moe McElligott, Pam Victor, Christine Stevens and Laura Patrick.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Pam Victor, from left, Laura Patrick, Christine Stevens and Moe McElligott of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Moe McElligott, from left, Laura Patrick and Christine Stevens of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Christine Stevens, left, and Laura Patrick of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Christine Stevens, from left, Laura Patrick, Moe McElligott and Pam Victor of The Ha-Ha's, an improvisational comedy troupe, rehearse July 1 at North Star in Hadley.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

There’s no script and no safety net — just actors, their creativity and their senses of humor.

That’s what the members of the improvisational comedy troupe the Ha-Ha’s have to rely on when they perform. Their aim: to keep their fans in stitches with routines that members create, on the spot, based on suggestions from the audience.

It all started in an impromptu fashion, befitting the seat-of-your-pants style of humor the group performs: Founder Pamela Victor came up with the idea for the troupe, and booked a first performance before the group actually existed. It was a faith-based moment, says Victor, as she had no idea how the first show would go. Apparently, something went right: The group not only survived that first night — it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

“I’m very pleased that not only have we been around for 10 years, but we haven’t been slowing down,” Victor said in a recent interview at her house in Pelham. Now, she says, she’s dreaming of a 20th anniversary with the group.

The Ha-Ha’s will perform Saturday at The Arts Block Café in Greenfield — a familiar venue for the troupe that’s been tickling audiences funnybones there on the second Saturday of each month, since August 2012. The troupe’s members are Victor; Laura Patrick of Hadley; Moe McElligott of Easthampton; and Christine Stevens of Amherst. On Saturday, they will be joined by another improv group, Girls Night Out.

Ever-evolving

In the beginning, the Ha-Ha’s performed strictly short-form improvisation — like on the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” in which comedians take suggestions from audience members, or otherwise spontaneously devise comic scenarios they want to riff on. But, with experience came a certain boldness, and the Ha-Ha’s eventually began to experiment with long-form improvisation, which can be trickier: Members still take audience suggestions, but use them to build longer, more intricate scenarios. Both forms will be presented at Saturday’s show.

It can be nerve-racking to have to be funny on the spot, but Victor says the troupe’s members are up to the challenge: “Creative pressure — no, it’s more creative freedom, because you can come up with anything you want to come up with,” Victor said.

The trick to success, she added, is to not just go for the laughs, but to react honestly in every situation. To that end, she says, she follows a strategy she learned years ago in an improv comedy workshop with Valley actress Kelsey Flynn, who has performed with the Villa Jidiots, another local improv troupe.

“Fall first,” Flynn told Victor back then, “then figure out what to do on the way down.”

Saturday’s performance begins at 8 p.m. at the Arts Black Café, 289 Main St., Greenfield. Tickets cost $7 in advance, online at www.theartsblock.com, or $10 at the door.

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