CSz 2012 World Championship: A Final Glance Back
By Tommy Dively
The smoke has cleared, the dust has settled, the confetti has been swept away, the matches have been played and the workshops taught, and now we are left only with the memories of an incredible weeklong experience. The 2012 ComedySportz World Championship is finally over, leaving Chicago as the new world champions over Los Angeles. Chicago may have won the trophy, but all 21 participating ComedySportz clubs that came out this year took home something that will stay with them for a while. It was a week of great matches, edifying workshops, and most importantly, a chance for friends new and old to celebrate the theater that brought them all together in the first place.
ComedySportz draws many different people to its ranks and that variety was showcased during the week of tournament. Alli Soowal of ComedySportz Philadelphia said she started with ComedySportz just as a way to fill her leisure hours. After spending too many hours “being bored on the couch with nothing to do, so I took classes at ComedySportz and joined in 2007. And now I’m the managing director of Philly.” Darryl Fishwick of ComedySportzUK in Manchester, England had a similar experience, joining the ensemble just from sheer enjoyment of the brand and what it could offer: “I turned up and loved every minute of the show and when I was picked as an audience volunteer in “Sound Effects” I was hooked. At the time ComedySportz UK was running out of a Youth Theatre, meaning it only had a young troupe. I am now about to enter my 10th year of being a ComedySportz UK player and I am one of the longest serving members of CSzUK.”
Hosting duties fell to Chicago this year for the championship week. This is an immense honor for the city, as the last time Chicago hosted was back in 2001. And the city did not disappoint, making it a big event to say the least. “I think the biggest way it was different to my previous tournaments was the sheer scale of it all,” Fishwick says. “The sheer number of improvisers who attended from ComedySportz was the most I had ever seen, and the Athenaeum was the largest venue I’d ever performed in. It was the first time I had ever needed a microphone or to be sound checked for an Improv show, but it all added to the spectacle.” And spectacle it was, as the Athenaeum held up to 500 patrons on the main floor alone as opposed to the 149 capacity of the ComedySportz Chicago Theatre on Belmont.
The championship week was a great opportunity not only for the younger members to workshop and meet their fellow improvisers but also for the tried-and-true veterans of ComedySportz to catch up with old friends and do what they do best: improvise. Patrick Short of ComedySportz Oregon said, “I had more fun playing this time than usual. Partly because of ‘Ref Trainwreck.’ He had bits but reffed the show really well. We let him do his stuff and he let us do our thing in the games. The second half went more off the rails when Chicago played, becoming an actual train wreck,” Short laughs.
The week hit its grand finale Saturday night not only with the long awaited championship match between Chicago and Los Angeles, which Chicago won, but it also featured the humbling All-Star match. It is a great sign of the many players’ respect for one another, as Fishwick attested to, saying, “It was so much fun to be on stage with those guys and gals, players that you yourself have looked up to and wanted to be like and suddenly you are on stage with them.” Soowal, who along with Fishwick was chosen for the All-Star team in a vote by the 200-plus players in attendance, was also very humbled. “Being voted into the All-Star match for the first time was amazing. It was so much fun, just to be silly with the Brits. Being voted by my peers though was a huge honor.” And it was a well-deserved one for all eight players who were voted onto the team.
All in all, it was another championship week of great matches, fascinating workshops and discussions, and a warm and happy celebration of an art form that takes center stage here in Chicago: comedy. And through short form improv with 21 different ComedySportz teams, comedy put on one heck of a show.