That requires not just skill but trust, and going to potty mouth humor is usually a dead end. It slows things down and is hard to build on.
"It's more fun to stay away from below the belt humor because it [makes] us to be more creative, and ultimately, it's a better show because once you cross the blue line and go into the gutter, you can never really come back from that place."
Instead, he said, you end up wallowing in the filth for the rest of the night, and that's not really what any of them want to do, so they don't.
The National Comedy Theatre troupe is performing in Charleston Saturday as a benefit to raise funds for "Angel's Perch," an independent film about the effects of Alzheimer's disease written by Arbogast and shot in Pocahontas County. He said it is a film about issues that aren't uniquely West Virginian, but it definitely has a West Virginia heart.
"My family is originally from here. My grandparents helped turn the Cass Scenic Railroad in Pocahontas County into a state park after the mill shut down in 1960. My parents grew up there, met in high school and got married. Most of my extended family is still there."
Growing up, he said, his family spent a lot of summers and holidays visiting his grandparents, but then in 2004, the same year Arbogast helped start the New York City location of the National Comedy Theatre, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He and his family watched her struggle with the disease, and it was a difficult decision to make when finally, she couldn't take care of herself.
"She managed to stay in Cass until just six months before she passed away."
Based loosely on those experiences, he wrote a screenplay about a family having to make tough decisions when a loved one can no longer take care of his or herself. Arbogast laughed and said, "So it's not a comedy."
Instead of making light, he hopes the film, produced in partnership with the West Virginia Alzheimer's Association, will make a difference.
"I think we have an opportunity with 'Angel's Perch' to shine a positive light on West Virginia and tell a story we don't normally see," he said.
"We'd like to create a dialogue about a disease that effects so many. In rural areas like West Virginia, it's just so much harder on the families and caregivers. We want to help tell a story we think will be their story."
Arbogast hopes West Virginia will embrace the film when it comes out, whenever and wherever that is. "Angels' Perch" wrapped production at the end of September, and the producers are currently working on arranging distribution.
"Hopefully, soon," he added.
Until then, they'd like to trade a few laughs for a good cause and Arbogast promised laughs.
"As long as the audience comes in ready to have fun, we know we'll have a great show."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.