LEWISTON — They planned a funeral for Aunt Rose. They doled out wisdom. On being a thief, one word offered up at a time: “Theft. Is. A. Very. Rewarding. Endeavor.”

And they retold the story of the “Three Little Pigs”: Mary Derosier was an evil Sunday school teacher. Bob Gardner was George Washington.

Go.

“Once upon a time, there were three ugly, rotten little pigs,” Derosier hissed.

“And the Brits slaughtered all of them,” Gardner said.

And they got a standing ovation.

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For five weeks, they’d studied improv at Senior College. Thursday was the final exam in front of friends and family.

Dan Marois said he’d initially been hesitant about offering his improv comedy course through the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College program. He’d offered it through different adult education programs before. One person would sign up. Another time, two people.

“I called the Senior College office expecting disappointment,” Marois told the class. “‘So how many do you have signed up?’ ‘Twelve.’ ‘Twelve?!'”

He taught them games with word play, with acting, with taking something random and running with it.

“We are all clueless, but that’s fine — in the world of improv, we take whatever comes our way and see what happens,” he said. “You’re never going to know if I made a mistake.”

Gardner, 81, of Auburn, said he was drawn to the the idea of having to be quick.

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“I kind of think there’s a zone you kind of need to be in,” he said. “If you’re off, it’s difficult. If you’re on, it’s so much fun.”

Derosier, 72, of Belgrade, had headed up a charity in her working life. The course was part of her retirement plan, “to let me come out.”

“We’ve been like this all through life,” said her husband, Roger, 67. “You’ve got to make everything funny.”

Barbara Randall, 88, of Auburn, was a longtime English teacher. She knew a lot of her classmates going in.

“I have a sense of humor and I enjoy the sound of laughter,” Randall said. “The delight of the audience, that inspires you to do your best or step a rung higher on the ladder. We’re a bunch of hams, probably.”

When “What is the essence of improv?” was tossed at the group, they came back one word at a time with: “Improv. Is. The. Most. Relaxing. Repugnant. Enjoyable. Funniest. Scariest. Endeavor.”

Marois may offer the class again next fall.

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