Gags, guffaws, giggles: Comedy Sportz enters tenth season of high school improv
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It is fast paced and funny. It requires acting without thinking. It is Comedy Sportz.
“Comedy Sportz is an improvisation comedy show that is set up with a match based competition style,” Theatre Tech teacher Stephen Brown said. “Acthletes, as they are called, perform in special games using audience suggestions.”
Comedy Sportz, a national company with professional troupes in many cities, sponsors various high school leagues around the country. The school has been participating in comedy sports for ten years. Although students are picked at the beginning of the year matches
usually take place during second semester.
“We typically have one match during the first semester,” Brown said. “Most of our matches are from January to early May.”
A group of theater students is selected each year to participate in Comedy Sportz during auditions held at the beginning of the school
“Each high school league team has a coach who comes from the professional team,” Brown said. “Together with the Cinco sponsors, a team is selected from an audition that introduces several basic improv skills.”
Improv, acting without a script, can be challenging for some because it requires actors to be witty and quick on their feet.
“Improv is completely made up on the spot,” sophomore Stephanie Huisman said.
“We play games and have to work as a team to improvise an entire comedy show every match.”
A Comedy Sportz match consists of three or more teams playing the same game, yet all coming up with different answers or scenarios.
“We have rehearsals for Comedy Sportz every so often to prepare for upcoming matches,” Huisman said. “We learn and play the different improv games several times. We [also] learn how to think on our toes and to work well with our teammates.”
Students are chosen to perform just minutes before a match, giving them no time to prepare.
“[The] decision is made by the coach based on the strengths of each player and the needs of the games,” Brown said.
For Huisman, she still gets a case of stage fright before a performance.
“I think we all get nervous sometimes, but as soon as I run onto the field with my teammates, the fear just disappears,” Huisman said. “It just feels like me being myself with my friends…[not] like we’re doing it for an audience.”
While Comedy Sportz is a competition that does not officially give awards, teams are informally awarded first, second and third place titles according to the amount of applause they received.
“All the teams are very good,” Brown said. “Even though it’s set up like a competition, we don’t have records and such. The challenge is always to improve, not [to] beat others.”
After rehearsals and numerous situations where they must depend on each other, the team has formed a close bond.
“My favorite part about Comedy Sportz is being able to make new friends, face my fears, and just act silly and crazy in front of an audience with my favorite people,” Huisman said. “It’s awesome to be able to make the audience laugh from us just being ourselves, and doing what we love.”