Postcards from Prison has accomplices

Peter Schutz, of Postcards from Prison, interviews audience member Jay Hale, wearing a baseball cap, in November 2005 about his most recent relationship breakup. Maureen Doran, Erin Curran and Ray Bell watch attentively. Once the interview is complete, the troupe reenacts the story of Hale’s breakup. (Photo: Schuyler Pisha)
Peter Schutz, of Postcards from Prison, interviews audience member Jay Hale, wearing a baseball cap, in November 2005 about his most recent relationship breakup. Maureen Doran, Erin Curran and Ray Bell watch attentively. Once the interview is complete, the troupe reenacts the story of Hale’s breakup. (Photo: Schuyler Pisha)

There are at least two things to be learned from last week’s performance by Postcards from Prison. The first is that names can be misleading: Postcards from Prison has very little to do with correspondence and inmates.

The second is that “inflatable robots … probably won’t conquer the earth.”

An audience member suggested this as an ad campaign for one of the group’s skits.

The six-member comedy troupe takes a page from the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and brings scintillating improvisational comedy to local bars and clubs.

All members of Postcards from Prison — Ray Bell, Erin Curran, Maureen Doran, Neil O’Callaghan, Neil Salon and Peter Schutz — are recent graduates of the Improv Asylum, “Boston’s premiere improv factory,” according to Schutz. The group had its first postgrad gig this past September and have been performing intermittently in Boston and Cambridge venues since, including last Tuesday’s performance at All Asia Bar. Its return to the bar is planned for December.

The show was audience driven; Schutz and Salon combed the crowd for suggestions of emotions, occupations and situations to scribble onto Post-its and use in their first skit. For another skit, an audience member chose from a selection of plays for Doran to read from; she acted out one character’s lines from the script while Schutz and O’Callaghan responded in their own unscripted dialogue. “Our show is very interactive,” O’Callaghan said. “What the audience gives to the show is what really makes it.”

Being relatively new to the comedy scene, though, Postcards from Prison is still working to build up a following. “We’re here as a rehearsal — for when we have a crowd!” laughed Doran as she watched the audience from the bar’s earlier music performance thin out before the troupe took to the stage.

The group’s energy more than made up for the small crowd. Audience members seemed more apt to shout out suggestions midperformance than they might have among more people, and even got to enjoy drinking at the bar with the performers before and after the show.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the troupe’s rendition of an audience member’s true-life experience.

Schutz stood at the front of the stage egging on the audience, “Have any of you ever had a breakup?”

After a volunteer bared his soul about a particularly bad breakup, the group reenacted his story. Turning the painful into the comical as only good comedians can, Postcards from Prison puts on a thoroughly engaging and, simply put, fun show.

Postcards from Prison’s next set performance is Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m. at All Asia Bar, 334 Massachusetts Ave. The nearest T stop is in Central Square, and there is parking on the avenue. Call (617) 497-1544 or go to postcardsfromprison.org.

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