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!
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!