Andy Batt once performed in an improv sketch as a pirate vacuum cleaner. He's pretty proud of that.

Andy Batt once performed in an improv sketch as a pirate vacuum cleaner. He's pretty proud of that.

"Ask anyone here," said Batt, MadLab Theatre and Gallery's managing director. "I'm one of the biggest control freaks they know. But you find a way to let all that go."

A professionally trained actor, Batt has been performing improv since 1999 and says the unpredictable style has improved his scripted acting and vice versa.

"The basic tenet for both art forms is exactly the same," he said. "Be in the moment and be honest in the moment."

Batt, who helped lead MadLab into a new era last year when it moved to a location Downtown, is directing resident improv troupe Full Frontal Nudity's upcoming winter performance.

"Love in The Time of Comedy" will work like this: Couples in the audience will be asked to share a story about their relationship, like how they first met or what their first date was like. Next, the audience will throw out a scenario or characters that would change the couple's original story.

And then the fun begins.

"We'll act out something obviously farcical and unrealistic about how the relationship could have changed," Batt said - something like a cop pulling them over for drunk driving on their first date.

Full Frontal Nudity, composed of eight actors who have been together since 2006, is one of the originals in Columbus' burgeoning improv scene.

Improv is a relatively young art form as far as theater goes, Batt notes. Its popularity with younger audiences isn't surprising.

"Theater is, as a whole, a dying art form," he said. "For a lot of younger crowds, it's a matter of time and money. They think it's expensive or long and boring but improv is a great ice-breaker for those crowds to the performing arts."

To prepare for "Time of Comedy," the players have been practicing with relationship anecdotes. But Batt doesn't want anyone getting too set in their sketch outcomes. Performing improv parallels that four-letter word, love.

"The harder you try, the worse it goes," Batt said. "You have to be open to what's happening."