Athletic Comedy

A major point of anxiety for many people is getting in front of a large group and speaking without a prepared script or even a known topic. This is not true for the players involved in Comedy Sportz and other improvisational shows like it. This rare species thrives on the unknown.

This is the basic setup for a Comedy Sportz show: two teams compete for the audiences’ laughs. They play a series of improv games and receive suggestions from the audience to prove that everything is really made up on the spot. There are some rules involved: for example, if the joke is just not funny or one hesitates for too long, there can be penalties involved.

During certain Comedy Sportz shows they like to keep the material fairly clean, but there is a show that happens once a month that is called, “The Blue Show,” and that is definitely for a more mature audience. There are no limits on what the players can say in “The Blue Show.” The show that I attended was a more family friendly atmosphere, but not in any way childish. They also have a show specially curated for children, and that happens on Saturday mornings.

The show took place in a small, black-box theatre in Center City, Philadelphia. It was an intimate night of comedy, due to the fact that the players often interacted with the audience. There was one moment when the Philadelphia home team came down from the stage to go hug an audience member because they were the only person who laughed at their joke. The teams also have a bit of an exaggerated rivalry amongst themselves. They pretend to be very competitive with one another, but by the end of the show they are all laughing together, having a good time, and you can tell that they all genuinely enjoy making people laugh.

They are willing to make fun of themselves and know when they have really bombed. That is what is so exciting and different about improv shows as opposed to a stand-up routine. They realize that failure is inevitable, but they continue to go up there and try to make people laugh, and they are able to laugh at themselves when it fails miserably. It shows the human side to the entertainment business. Someone wise once said, “People come to the theatre to watch the set fall down.” I believe that is very true, because when something goes wrong in a performance it reminds us that it is just that: a performance. Entertainment is an escape from reality that we oftentimes crave.

If this article has sparked your interest in improv shows, you will be delighted to know that tickets are only $14 with a student ID (that is less than the price of a 3D movie!) and you will get a one of a kind entertainment experience, completely off the cuff.

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