ComedySportz Championship

July 25, 2011

It happens every year. Did you know about it? Let’s go back a step, do you know about ComedySportz? Team based, family-friendly, competitive improv in over 20 cities across this fine planet.

Unfortunately, some in the Chicago community seem to look down on shortform improv, even though when it comes to doing corporate shows, every major theater in the city uses shortform in their shows.

ComedySportz is great not only because it keeps the pace quick, but because it incorporates the audience and keeps from getting blue. I’ve been performing in one city or another since ’99. One of the crown gems of performing for this institution is the yearly World Championship. Last year was in Philadelphia, this year was in Indianapolis…a scorching hot Indianapolis.

Let me take you behind the scenes.

MONDAY- Starting the Monday of Championship week, players slowly start arriving. Monday is usually managers and owners conducting business meetings.

TUESDAY- ComedySportz has plenty of games to choose from (well over 100), that doesn’t stop us from coming up with new ones. One of the main Tuesday events is the New Games Workshop: any cities with new games present their gem to the assembled ensemble members. A lot are fairly good, some are awful, and a few make every improvisor drool in anticipation of playing it in their city.

There will also usually be some hang time involving karaoke.

WEDNESDAY- I didn’t actually arrive until late in the day on Wednesday this year. I think the new games workshop might have even been on this day. Most of the players will have arrived by Tuesday night, with another small cluster of arrivals today. This is the first night of shows. Each night from here to Friday will have two shows, each of those shows having two teams in the first half, and two new teams in the second half. Saturday is a little different…more on that later.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY- There is an early morning meeting to go over any needed info about the day, and any newly arriving players get introduced. Then there are workshops in the morning and afternoon. The nice thing about having a lot of players from different cities is that there are plenty of veterans offering workshops. I have my Improv Rehab workshop that has become quite popular so I offered it twice.

SATURDAY- No one gets up for anything on this day. Generally, improvisors are getting about 7-20 hours of sleep total over the week from late nights of hanging out and games. The shows on this night are a little different in that the first show is earlier, and one half is the hosting team vs the All-Stars (players from random cities voted on by all players). Then another show. Then the late show being the hosting team vs the best team from the series.

That night is the closest thing an adult can experience to being a kid at summer camp on the last day. Lots of new friends bidding fond farewells. Hell, there was even a proposal at 2:00am.

Here are just a few highlights from my week:
-reffing for a fun crowd and having one of my bits repeated three times over the week.
-teaching my Improv Rehab workshop two times and watching everyone melt their brains and then pull it together.
-participating in Open Source.

Open Source was the highlight for me. It may not make a lot of sense, but I’ll give it a shot. In the Friday afternoon workshop slot there was only Open Source. There were various rooms reserved in two time blocks. When the leader explained it and said “go,” if you had an idea for a workshop you wrote the name down and where it would be, and your name. No one signed up for anything. You then took a few minutes to read all the offerings. From there, you would walk to where your feet took you. If you felt like it wasn’t for you, you simply followed your feet out to another thing. This is the rule of two feet.

If you were hosting a workshop and no one showed up, you were asked to wait 10 minutes in case people’s feet didn’t take them to the right place and your’s was next.

Why did I like this so much? A few reasons. I offered “Nappin’ of the Opera” where we would go up to one of the boxes in the theater and lie down. It was a jokey idea, but I was also a little tired and wouldn’t have minded just chillin’. I didn’t really expect anyone. 7 people showed up. A few more after them too, but the space was limited. We didn’t actually sleep, but it was fun to be in a pile and do bits. There were also some deeper scenework workshops, some philosophical discussions, and game specific workshops…all with attendance. The cool thing about it was that everyone who showed had no idea what would be offered, and yet the thing they needed was provided.

Round two I didn’t offer anything, but joined Minimally Intrusive Pranks On Other Groups…silly fun, and just what our group needed.

Way to go, Open Source!

It is always fun looking forward to the Championship, always sad to see it end.

You know what is nice about 2012 though? CSz Championship: Chicago. Be Ready!