ComedySportz

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

Format[edit]

The traditional format of a ComedySportz (CSz) show features two teams of improvisational performers (Actletes), competing in various improv games and performing scenes with audience members judging the results and awarding points. In every show, 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:

  • the Brown Bag Foul, called when an Actlete 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.
  • the Groaner Foul, whereby an Actlete who speaks a pun bad enough to make the audience groan loses at least one point for their team, unless their apology to the audience is heartfelt enough.
Example: Two peanuts walked into a bar. One was a salted.
  • and anything 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 Actletes (many of whom have other occupations) are available for a match at any given time.

Organization[edit]

ComedySportz is licensed by the World Comedy League Incorporated. There are over 20 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.

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 show allows the most successful CSz groups to perform thousands of road shows for corporate, college, church, school and association clients each year; most CSz groups also lead corporate teambuilding workshops. In addition, Playerz 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.

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

Buffalo, New York hosted the most recent World Championship, from July 10 to 13, 2013.

History[edit]

Year Host City World Champion
2013 Buffalo, NY Buffalo
2012 Chicago, IL Chicago
2011 Indianapolis, IN Indianapolis
2010 Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia
2009 Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee
2008 Portland, OR Portland
2007 Quad Cities Quad Cities
2006 San Jose, CA San Jose
2005 Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles
2004 Milwaukee, WI Minneapolis

Notable Current Players & Alumni[edit]

Alumni of ComedySportz include:

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]