ComedySportz

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ComedySportz (CSz) is an improvisational comedy organization started in 1984 in Milwaukee, by a group of local comedians including Dick Chudnow, Bob Orvis, Brian Green, and many others.

Match Format[edit]

Official logo of ComedySportz

The traditional format of a ComedySportz match features two teams of improvisational performers (players), competing in various improv games and performing scenes with audience members judging the results and awarding points. In every match, a CSz referee monitors the action, awarding points, and administering fouls as necessary. The flavor is somewhat like the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, though the ComedySportz organization precedes that show's debut by 4 years. The CSz format is a higher-energy, more varied, and more sports-oriented version of the Theatresports format, which preceded ComedySportz by 7 years.

ComedySportz penalties (put in place for the audience's benefit) include:

  • Brown Bag Foul: called when a player uses explicit language or refers to something crass or off-color. The Brown Bag Foul is infamously punished by making the offender wear a brown paper bag over their head for the remainder of the scene, even if the offender is an audience member. (In some ComedySportz venues, this has been replaced with the "Potty Mouth" foul, and the brown paper bag has been replaced with a toilet seat.) This foul is the "bagged" mentioned in the ComedySportz theme song.
  • Groaner Foul: whereby any player who speaks a pun bad enough to make the audience groan causing their team to lose one point (or awarding the other team with a point), unless their apology to the audience is heartfelt enough and accepted.
Example: Two peanuts walked into a bar. One was a salted.
  • Any spontaneously generated foul the referee feels is needed to move the match forward.

Although the image of competition is maintained, the teams are often dynamic, with rosters depending on which player (many of whom have other occupations) are available for a match at any given time, and match outcomes are not pre-determined as audience voting/selected judges decide the winner.

Organization[edit]

Official logo for CSz Worldwide

CSz Worldwide and ComedySportz are licensed by the World Comedy League Incorporated. There are over 23 cities with licensed ComedySportz organizations, most in the United States. In recent years, ComedySportz has been licensed in Manchester, England (although this team originated in Chorley, Lancashire) and Berlin, Germany.

Most ComedySportz cities operate their own "arenas," some with theatre type settings, others as nightclubs. Few (including ComedySportz Milwaukee) have their very own bar and restaurant. The clean content and audience focused nature of the ComedySportz match allows CSz groups to perform thousands of road shows for corporate, college, church, school, and association clients each year; most CSz groups also lead corporate team-building workshops. In addition, players from some cities coach ComedySportz high school and middle school leagues, in which students perform in shows similar to those seen at the "professional" level.

World Championship[edit]

Teams meet annually at the ComedySportz World Championship for a competitive tournament, training, and exchange of artistic, marketing, and organizational ideas. The location of the tournament rotates among the member cities. The first World Championship, August 4–7, 2004, also served as the Grand Opening for Milwaukee's all-new ComedySportz Arena at 420 South 1st Street in Milwaukee. In 2009, the World Championship returned to Milwaukee for the 25th anniversary celebration, and returned again in 2014 to celebrate both its 30th anniversary and rebranding of the logo.

Prior to 2004, this mostly annual event was billed as the "ComedySportz National Tournament."

Milwaukee, WI hosted the most recent World Championship, from June 19 to 21, 2014. The next World Championship will be held in the Quad Cities from June 9 to 13, 2015.

Championship History[edit]

Year Host City World Champion
2015 Quad Cities IA & IL TBD
2014 Milwaukee Milwaukee
2013 Buffalo, New York Buffalo
2012 Chicago Chicago
2011 Indianapolis Indianapolis
2010 Philadelphia Philadelphia
2009 Milwaukee Milwaukee
2008 Portland, Oregon Portland
2007 Quad Cities, IA & IL Quad Cities
2006 San Jose, California San Jose
2005 Los Angeles Los Angeles
2004 Milwaukee Minneapolis

Notable players and alumni[edit]

Locations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Fein, G. "Sporting Shots", Pasadena Weekly, September 15, 1989
Winn, S. "These Games Are Strictly For Laughs", Sports Illustrated, November 26, 1990.
Loesing, J. "Out on the Town", The Acorn, March 25, 1999.
Patterson, D. "With honors in humor", Los Angeles Times, June 3, 2004.
Berkowitz, L. "Improv is their game", Houston Chronicle, January 25, 2005.
Parmet, S. "Class Clowning", The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 6, 2005.
Radcliffe, J. "Laugh and Learn", Los Angeles Daily News, February 17, 2005.

External links[edit]