Pablo Rojas was already working at some of the top homes of comedy in Boston when he decided he wanted to start something a little bit outside-the-box. That new project grew into Catalyst Comedy, the musical theatre improv group he founded in 2013.
“We wanted to get involved in something that was more challenging than traditional improv,” Rojas explains. “It’s a really fun experience, and it’s challenging. You’re not just saying funny things on stage—you’re tying yourself into a melody, you’re sometimes creating proper lyrics that rhyme or that have to fit to a specific story, so there’s a lot more involved.”
The group has two shows running in Somerville this summer. The first—Boston’s Unscripted Musical Project, or B.U.M.P.—is an hour-long musical inspired by the audience, running Saturdays nights in the Davis Square Theatre. The performers ask the audience for the title of a musical that they’ve always want to see or have never seen before, a prompt which has yielded titles like “Game of Toilets” and “The Yeast Infection.” From there, the comedians run wild.
“It’s a wonderful thing to feel, knowing ‘I just saw this one thing that won’t happen again, it will always live in my memory,’” Rojas says. “I want people to come away from the show thinking, ‘Wow, this was improvised?’ We get that a lot.”
Catalyst’s second show, Dirty Disney, is aimed at an adult crowd—21 and up only. Using audience suggestions as a jumping off point, the cast improvises mature parodies of beloved Disney songs. The group guarantees that you’ll leave the show humming the classics you loved as a kid, it’s just that you’ll never quite be able to listen to them the same way again. Dirty Disney runs Saturday nights in the Davis Square Theatre and Friday nights downtown at Laugh Boston.
But it’s not all fun and filth; Catalyst Comedy also wants to bring a family-friendly performances to Somerville. KERPLUNK! asks for significant audience participation in a choose-your-own-adventure style show.
Rojas hopes that Catalyst Comedy’s shows will leave audiences entertained and with a new appreciation for improv.
“Improv is not just games,” he says. “Improv is a very unique skill set that requires—not just comedic talent—but requires dedication, training and skill.”
B.U.M.P. and Dirty Disney come to the Davis Square Theatre every Saturday night through the end of August, and you can grab tickets ($10-20) on Eventbrite.