By Sherri Coner
Sure, we’ve all seen basketball players dribbling or golf lovers swinging clubs, but maybe you haven’t seen fast wit and humor competitively being tossed across a stage.
That is the game at ComedySportz Indianapolis.
Entertainment for all ages
Two teams of improv comedians, one referee and an audience declaring a winner makes this experience uniquely entertaining for all ages, said Ed Trout, president and CEO of the Southside company which recently celebrated 30 years of laughter.
With more than 50 improv enthusiasts on the roster, all of them have practiced together at least a few times, said Trout, who also serves as director of education and implied improvisation.
But no one has worked together enough to read each other’s minds.
Also, improv performances are never scripted.
“Improv is supportive and collaborative,” Trout said of participants.
Laughter over victory
If one team has a lull in laughter though, opposing team members always choose laughter over victory and quickly toss helpful humor in their opponent’s direction.
“It’s about having a good show for the audience,” Trout said. “That is part of why improv is so magical to me.”
Several decades ago, Trout, a theater and humor lover himself, was part of an Indianapolis improv team called Below the Belt.
When he and theater-loving friends saw a ComedySportz performance for the first time in Chicago, they were mesmerized by the concept of taking improv to a whole new level.
Even faster thinking than usual for improv was an added challenge for participants, but the comedic freedom and the energetic audience response made ComedySportz a new passion.
Vowing to provide this fun entertainment to Hoosiers, the group stayed true to the goal.
Celebrating 30 years on the Southside
In Feb. 1993, ComedySportz Indianapolis opened at Theatre on the Square in Fountain Square.
The show then moved to Mass Ave and remained there for 21 years.
Their newest venue, The Wit Theater on Shelby Street near the University of Indianapolis, provides food, beer and wine service in addition to so much unexpected fun.
Family-friendly comedy competitions happen in the early evening hours.
To attend later shows, comedy lovers must be 17 and older.
Audience participation is often encouraged, and no show is ever the same.
When the event begins, “It is a real sport with real fouls,” Trout said with a chuckle. “But if people haven’t seen us before, it’s a little hard to grasp until they attend a show.”
Two teams face off under the watchful eye of one referee.
Performers receive fouls for things like pausing too long or losing the rhythm of a song everyone else is singing.
Competitors rely heavily on audience votes for the big win.
A winner is announced when “one person survives from an improv team,” Trout said.
Another fun part of this particular sport is the willingness to travel.
ComedySportz will entertain onsite for family celebrations and corporate events. They also engage with staff in businesses to provide a unique team building exercise.
After all, improv is all about communication.
“For me, improv is a life skill set everybody should have,” Trout said.
For more information, go to cszindianapolis.com or call 317-951-8499.