COMEDYSPORTZ: ONE YEAR ONLINE!

Our ComedySportz match this Saturday (20th March) marks one year of online shows since the world first went into Lockdown last spring. We hope you’ll join us for this very special match with a very special guest player!

Never seen a ComedySportz match before? Two teams go for comedy gold with quick-witted gags and games inspired by your suggestions. It’s an all action, all improvised competitive comedy show for all ages with a referee ensuring a good clean match! Who wins? YOU decide! Shows stream every Wednesday and Saturday at 7pm GMT via our youtube channel. Subscribe today and never miss a match!

Last year we had no choice but to “Yes, And” the situation and since then we’ve done nearly 150 online shows and performed to audiences all over the world. Thank you to everyone that has supported us and laughed with us during this time. This past year has seen plenty of challenges but also, hopefully, plenty of laughs as well.

Our players have kept innovating and inspiring with their creativity and commitment to fun and laughter. We asked some of our players and fans to share what a year of laughs in lockdown has meant to them.

Bron refs our very first online show overcoming new and exciting technical problems!

BRON EDGE:

The team really came together to figure out how we could keep connected to our fans. I love this new connectivity we have to the audience, and how our audience can also chat with each other about the show…. or whatever else they are thinking! I’m going to miss that when we are back on a stage, at least I hope people aren’t going to be chatting through the show…

It has been lovely to see the spirit of Yes And seep into the audience as well, one audience member even found out that another desperately wanted a specific jumper knitted… and they knitted it for them!

JOHN COOPER:

Its amazing to see how the online shows have develop in the last year. From the beginnings of figuring out zoom and how well a show could even work, to experimenting and finding great new games that really only work online like Art Critic and Story Draw….where I get to draw…..what’s not to like ??

KATE McCABE:

I think it’s highlighted how important is is to be agile. Not just as an improviser but as a person. One positive is that people have been agile WITH us. Joining us on YouTube and cheering us on while we try new games and keep the good times rolling.

Ben and housemate Harry during a live show!

BEN HODGE:

Starting with ComedySportz online has been such an interesting challenge! Adapting to this new way of performing has been eye-opening and also loads of fun. It has given me the chance to play with so many different people who I may not have had a chance to meet and improvise with otherwise. It’s great for connecting with our international friends and having the opportunity to play with them!

SEAN MASON:

Even though lockdown has kept us apart, going online has kept us connected to our CSz Worldwide family and fans. The last year has shown just how positive a force improvisation can be as it gives us the tools and creative mindset to solve problems and adapt. It has been a real joy to keep doing shows and workshops online – a lifeline really.

Being able to develop new games, new ways of playing and connecting has actually been really fun. I am ready to get back into live shows soon though!

Dalu never fails to surprise with his endless supply of wigs.

DALU THEBE:

From starting Comedysportz Manchester most if not all my matches have been played online. This I have found useful in practices, getting to know new games and particularly in allowing me to use and gather props, something that perhaps wouldn’t have happened in live shows. (EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not sure if Dalu is going to manage without his trusty Marge Simpson wig. We’re not sure the audience will either).

The technology has allowed the show to continue throughout lockdown and has been a constant source of much needed fun and silliness.

Felix getting his team into trouble for timing Chris Tavner’s refereeing!

FELIX JANEWAY:

Performing online has shown me that improv is liquid. It has the ability to fill whatever space we give it, and virtual space has offered us new nooks to play in; using backgrounds, props, music and video to make multi-layer jokes which aren’t possible in other formats.

I play with Comedysportz for connection and that aspect has not only been unchanged, it has broadened to include connection to anyone anywhere (technology permitting).

The main challenge I have faced is not being able to perform with members of the troupe who are unable to play online, but it has been brilliant to get into the nitty gritty of the structure of the match, the roles which support the match and all the technology we can use to support it.

Even online we’ve still been able to make use of audience volunteers.

LUCY RYAN (FAN):

We started watching the online Comedysportz shows when they started back in March 2020 – and they have been what has kept us going throughout lockdown. In the misery of lockdown the Comedysportz shows have been the one thing that have always been guaranteed to make us all (adults and children alike) laugh. Laugh out loud, real belly laughs., laugh until we are crying. The humour is genuinely warm – never unkind or mean-spirited – and the shows are deliberately accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. But more than just making us laugh, the Comedysportz shows have created a community; you always know you can show up and “join in”. In a year where social interaction had been so lacking THAT is more valuable than I can describe. Thank you everyone at Comedysportz.

JOAN MYERS (FAN):

My husband Jeff and I have been fans of CSz Buffalo in USA since 2006. We had the honor of seeing Manchester perform at the World Championships in Philadelphia in 2019. They are a very talented group. When the pandemic hit and closed everything we started watching Buffalo on ZOOM. We then started to find other ComedySportz cities to watch. Manchester is our go to since it is on at 2 pm our time. We love it because we get to see several games not played in Buffalo. My favorite is Karaoke. We think everyone is very funny and look forward to our Wednesdays and Saturdays. We also love their take on Star Trek. That is totally hilarious!! Although we really haven’t met most of them personally, we love them all and consider them friends. Will miss seeing the shows when live performances start back. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t worry, even when live shows return we’re going to keep doing online shows as well).

Hit the video above to catch this Saturday’s anniversary match. We are delighted to be joined by CSz founder Dick Chudnow. Dick started ComedySportz in the USA in 1984 and we’re very excited to have him join us for this online match.

The stream goes live at 6.45pm GMT and the match kicks off at 7pm GMT. As always our online shows are family friendly and free to watch – however donations are gratefully received and go directly to our players.

All being well, our return to live shows with distanced audiences is now only a couple of months away but we’ll be continuing with our online shows and workshops too. Subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on all of our upcoming online and live events. Got a favourite memory of our online shows? We’d love to hear from you!

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Mother’s Day Match

We’re delighted to be putting on an extra Mother’s Day Match this weekend! ComedySportz players – including the ref and the announcer – will be teaming up with their mums for some improvised gags and games on Sunday 14th March.

We’ve wanted to do this show ever since Lukas’ mum had her own ComedySportz shirt made to wear at his birthday a few years ago. We’ve always talked about doing it but it never came together. While some families are kept apart by the ongoing lockdown we felt now would be a fun way to keep connected. So, we decided to just go for it and do the Mother’s Day show online!

Don’t miss what promises to be a very unique ComedySportz match this Sunday 14th March. The stream goes live approx. 6.45pm GMT and the match will kick off at 7pm GMT. You can watch the show live at the link below:

We have plenty of great shows coming up this month with special guests from across the CSz Worldwide family. Subscribe to our youtube channel today and never miss a match!

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March Mayhem Match!

You’re in control with our March Mayhem Match this weekend! For this special show you’ll not just help decide the winners but you’ll also pick the teams and the games they play! It’s interactive, improvised and you won’t want to miss it!

Never seen a ComedySportz match before? Two teams compete for you laughs with improvised gags and games inspired by your suggestions. It’s a battle of quick-wits as our teams go for comedy gold. There’s a referee on hand to ensure a good clean match with penalties for bad behaviour and bad jokes. Shows are family friendly and our online shows are free to watch (donations are gratefully received).

For this special match we’re putting you in control of every aspect of the show from the teams to the games, so if you have a favourite game we haven’t played for a while – or one you just can’t get enough of – make sure you’re in the chat giving suggestions! You can subscribe to our youtube channel today to never miss a match.

The stream goes live approx. 6.45pm GMT and the match will kick off at 7pm GMT on Saturday 13th March. You can watch the show live at the link below:

And don’t miss our first Mother’s Day Match on Sunday that sees ComedySportz players team up with their mums for more improvised gags and games!

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International Women’s Day Match

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day this week with a special match this Wednesday 10th March. It’s an all women, all improvised competitive comedy show you won’t want to miss! The stream goes live approx. 6.45pm GMT and the match will kick off at 7pm GMT. You can watch the show live – and for free – here.

This weekend also sees the return of our March Mayhem Match – that puts you in control of the teams and the games – and our first Mothers Day Match that sees ComedySportz players team up with their mums for more improvised gags and games!

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LGBTQ+ SPECIAL

We’re excited to announce that our 27th February match is an LGBT History Month special featuring players from across the CSz Worldwide family. UK players will be captaining teams will LGBTQ+ identifying players from CSz Chicago, CSz Indianapolis, CSz Philadelphia and CSz New York.

Never seen a ComedySportz match before? Two teams will be competing for your laughs with improvised gags and games inspired by your suggestions. Who wins? YOU decide!

As with all of our online matches, the show will be free to watch (link below). However, where we would normally ask those who can afford to do so to make a donation to help support our players, for this show will be asking audiences to donate to local charities The Proud Trust and Rainbow Noir.

The Proud Trust is a life saving and life enhancing organisation that helps LGBT+ young people empower themselves, to make a positive change for themselves, and their communities.

Rainbow Noir is a volunteer led social, peer support and community action group, which celebrates and platforms people of colour who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and/or Intersex.

We know that the ongoing coronavirus situation means that not everyone is in a position to make a donation. This is why we have kept the show free to watch so that anyone can enjoy the show as we celebrate our LGBTQ+ players.

If you’ve ever taken a class in improv, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “Yes, And” which places acceptance of others at the heart of everything we do. In improvisation we share our ideas to communicate, collaborate and grow our scenes and games – and it’s how we like to approach life offstage as well. Our newest player Ben Hodge wanted to share a little something of his own journey into improv and saying “Yes, And…”

Hi! I’m Ben and I have been a part of CSZ Manchester since summer of 2020. I guess it’s also good to mention for this article that I am a gay, transgender man. I came out as trans when I was 16 and started testosterone at 17. I came out as a gay man at 18 and had my top surgery at 19. There was one thing that got me past the low points and the waiting times and the constant questions around my identity, and that was comedy.

I think that comedy has a lot of power when looking at identity, it has helped me to educate audiences and show them that people like me exist and we can thrive when given a safe and understanding space to do so. Joining ComedySportz, I felt that I had found that space, and that my identity wasn’t up for question or debate, as long as I ‘yes, and…’ then everything would be good!

Ben Hodge

It’s hard coming into a new space when people don’t necessarily know your past, and when talking to some members about my identity, they have been so respectable and eager to listen to what it means to be me. And I am grateful for them for taking the time to listen and understand who I am, and I think it has probably helped me put more trust into our relationship as improvisors. I even took part in an LGBT match at the online ComedySportz World Championship, where I played with all LGBT-identified players and got to interact with people who had been in this community a lot longer than me and had worked hard to make ComedySportz as inclusive as possible. It was truly a wonderful experience and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of something so great!

I think that improvisation offers such a safe space for the LGBT community as people don’t care who you are as long as you make them laugh or create a good scene. There is so much room in improv to explore and express different parts of yourself that you never really have to ‘out’ yourself if that is something you don’t want to do. I’m currently organising an improv session for my LGBT+ support group from back home, as they invited me back as an ex-service user to talk about my identity and how comedy has supported my activism and my growth. Improv has offered me so much in supporting my own exploration of identity and expression that I think it’s something that the LGBT community should embrace and join in!

If you are reading this and you are an LGBT person currently struggling to find where you belong or you’re currently exploring what it means to be you, just know that you are not alone and there are so many safe spaces for you to do that exploration. There are several organisations in the north west as well as around the UK that offer support for LGBT people and they will always welcome you with open arms. Or come and watch one of our shows, and know that you belong and we are always happy to have you involved!

Ben’s documentary about his transition “1 Year” won the 2020 Into Film award for Best Documentary. Despite the COVID venue closures meaning Ben has only ever played online shows with us, he has quickly become an audience favourite and we are delighted to have him be part of the ComedySportz Manchester family.

You can catch Ben in our LGBT special match on Saturday 27th February. The stream will go live at 6.45pm GMT with the fun kicking off at 7pm GMT. Watch live at the link below!

 

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About The Proud Trust

About Rainbow Noir