A Tournament of Laughs: ComedySportz Reviewed

The art of making people laugh is only performed exceptionally when the artist has an inherent talent for comedy. Not everyone can cause a room to explode into uproarious laughter after slinging a quick one-liner in an act. Tougher still, is the art of comedic improve, and in the show “ComedySportz,” comedians team up to test their chops in a competition to see who has the quicker, wittier minds in order to win the coveted "ComedySprtz" trophy.



Recently opening at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, “ComedySportz” is a friendly competition that places members from various “improv” groups into two teams and pits them against each other, allowing the audience to decide who is the quickest, funniest and wittiest of the two teams.

Since the show is consists completely of improvisational comedy and it includes a new lineup each night, no show can be exactly the same. Plus, in the great tradition of “improv” comedy and to ensure an entirely unique experience, the audience is tapped for ideas and, on occasion, help on stage in some of the many skits. As a rule, “ComedySportz” does not allow cursing or swearing in any of their skits (an act punishable by placing a brown-paper bag over the offender’s head for the remainder of the skit) so the show can be appropriate for all ages. Although, depending on the night, some of the references in the show (be they cultural, literary or otherwise) might be lost on a younger audience, but that wouldn’t necessarily make it any less fun for a younger crowd.



On opening night, the teams consisted of the St. Charles Express (as the Blue Team), and the Downtown Chicago Bosses (as the Red Team). Selected from their individual groups, Alida Vitas-Dow, Sarah Maher, Jessica Ring made up the Red Team, while the Blue Team consisted of Nick Hausman, Tim Ryder and Megan Green. Rich Baker, complete with black and white striped shirt and whistle, acted as the referee.

When the show began, the teams where announced similar in fashion to a basketball game, with each competing team running out from the back of the room, slapping hands with the audience all the way until they take their place up front on the sparse wooden stage. At this point, the Blue Team seemed to be more energetic than the Red Team; almost as if they where playing the crowd. They seemed to know that, in order to tip the odds for a victory, a team needs the audience  pumped and on their side from the start. The Red Team, having obviously competed in the past, exhibited their own energy. But after seeing what the Blue Team was doing, they quickly adjusted their game-plan and began to counter the Blue Team with their own high-energy comedy.

Contestants get the audience excited for the show



“ComedySportz” plays out like an extended “improv” class with a variety of exercises for the comedians to partake in. Adding to the “classroom” feel is the small, "backroom" stage that the show takes place on. None of this is detrimental to the show. In fact, it could be said that this show thrives in a smaller performance area. Since it relies so much on audience participation, a much larger theater would make the show very difficult to perform. Plus, the show has a certain intimacy that would be completely lost in a larger performance area. This isn’t to say that the show can’t work in a larger theater (it is performed in a large variety of theaters across the nation), but it does seem more fitting for a smaller, more personable setting.

A "head-to-head" skit



As an “improv” competition, “ComedySportz” is not for the average comedian. It takes a very quick mind and a sharp tongue to make it in this hilarious “battle royal.” Each skit is extremely fast paced, allowing very little time for the comedians to gather their thoughts and come up with a line when it is their turn. And if the regular accelerated pace of the competition weren’t enough, some games actually speed up as they progress and the order in which the team members give their lines gets randomly changed, allowing even less time for the comedian’s thought process to complete. “ComedySportz” is truly a test of a contestant’s comic ingenuity, and because of this, it makes a hilarious evening of entertainment.

ComedySportz occasionally tests a comedian's physical prowess, as well as their comic ingenuity



On the opening night, both teams consisted of members who certainly had the chops to make it in this tough competition. But in the end, it was the Blue Team who won the trophy. “ComedySportz” is definitely a must see for any fan of comedy. It offers a quick pace, fun atmosphere and enough audience participation to make even the grumpiest person excited. And with an ever changing cast, one can attend every night and never see the same show twice. “ComedySportz” is certainly a great time and is not a show to miss.

The suburban run of “ComedySportz” is playing now through December 29, 2007  at the The Studio at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. For more information or to order tickets, please call the theater box office at (630) 584-6342 or visit www.noblefool.org. For more information on ComedySportz as a whole, please visit www.comedysportz.com.

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