Improv Community Embraces Dual Duel

The fourth annual Dual Duel Tournament of two-person improv teams just completed its third elimination round, with the team of Buscow (Matt Castellvi and Keith Habersberger) winning on Sunday, April 1st and moving one step closer to the ultimate prize of $200.00.  More important than winning, though, is the celebration of community the Tournament provides, according to Director Caleb George. George says, “We have contestants from throughout the Chicago improv community - not just ComedySportz ensemble members, but performers from other companies and college students as well.  I think it’s an especially great opportunity for the students to get up on stage with working professionals and see how they compare against them.”

“My favorite thing about Dual Duel though, is the jam at the end of each weekly competition.  All ten performers are on stage together while votes for the best team are being counted. The audience gives a suggestion to one team and that team gets started building a sketch around it.  The other players jump in as the inspiration hits them and eventually the whole cast has developed a sketch collaboratively. It’s a great demonstration of the supportiveness and teamwork that is so essential to improv.”
Dual Duel will be played every Sunday in April and May at The ComedySportz Theatre, with the Championship Round played on June 3.  Shows start at 7 PM.

Kristi’s Tips for Making Costumes on a Budget

Anyone who’s wanted to make costumes for Halloween or a kid’s school play can appreciate the challenges of creating a clever costume without spending a lot of money. For ComedySportz’ Kristi Parker-Barnhart, coming up with the multitude of otherworldly designs for the production of The ComedySportz Crew Meets Alice in Wonderland (opening this Saturday, April 7) was a test of her own ability to imagine how items ready to be thrown out could be made into something magical.  “The main way I save money,” she explains, “is by deconstructing things rather than building from scratch. You save a lot of money when you don’t have to buy new fabric.
Thrift stores are the first place to look. We found an old prom dress that will become the Red Queen’s gown.”

More impressive, though, is Kristi’s ability to see potential costumes in everyday household items. An old kitchen chair will become apparel for the Duchess.  “I took the two cushions from the chair and made one of them into the Duchess’s hat and the other into her gown’s bodice.  I also found an old tie-dyed tablecloth that I re-cut into a shirt for our very 1960’s looking caterpillar.” 

The need to improvise using available items hasn’t hindered Kristi’s ability to achieve her vision for the show’s costume design. “We as a creative team decided the best way to create the world of Wonderland was going to be through the costumes.  To make Wonderland an unusual place we’re going to use a palette of strange and mismatched colors – like mustard yellow mixed with greens and blues.” Young audiences will still be urged to use their imaginations in seeing Wonderland, but the colorful costumes Kristi has put together will give them some hints from which to build.

The Cast Will Play While the Bosses Are Away

The annual tradition of “Boss’s Away” weekend will have double the significance and opportunity for surprises this year. While CEO Matt Elwell will again leave town for the annual conclave of ComedySportz World League big shots meeting, this year the show’s Director Sam Super is also absent.  With Sam out of the country on sabbatical, Acting Director Tim Whetham sees this as a major opportunity to try out new, never-before seen games.

“The cast looks forward to this weekend because it’s a chance for them to try out games that are outside of the playbook, making the show more unpredictable than usual. It takes the competitive nature of ComedySportz and explodes that. The competition gets a little wilder and occasionally we see some one-on-one face-offs that get intensely funny.”

You can see for yourself this weekend as long as you promise not to tell Matt and Sam what you see!

Sketch duo opens in Friday midnight slot on April 13th

Sketch may be a different form of comedy than improv, but Pat Dwyer credits the Improv he and Erin Pallesen do at ComedySportz with honing the sketch comedy they perform as Kerpatty. “In improv, we’re constantly reading the audience and adjusting our performance on the spot. Seeing what they’re responding to, we can dial up whatever it is that’s making the crowd laugh in that particular show.  We do the same thing in Kerpatty. Our sketches sometimes follow very tight beats rather than a set script. We know where the sketch starts and where it’s going to end, and there are certain checkpoints along the way, but that still gives us room to improvise in between those points.” They’ll be right at home on the ComedySportz stage for their eight-week run, Fridays at midnight, April 13 through May 25th.

Kerpatty was once again a hit at the Chicago Sketchfest this past January, and some of the material they premiered in that appearance will be performed on the ComedySportz Theatre stage.  “Our material is fun to watch, but hard to describe or categorize,” Dwyer says.  “The best I can do is to say it’s good-natured fun and extremely playful.  We go for belly laughs.”

If words alone can’t give a full picture of what to expect, then take a look at this Kerpatty video called “Milk.”