Dual Duel tournament a celebration of the Chicago improv community


Imagine playing two-on-two against Michael Jordan…competing against Daniel Day-Lewis or Meryl Streep for an Oscar… or running a marathon in the Olympics. That’s what Dual Duel, ComedySportz’s annual tournament of two-player improv teams, is like. Sort of. It’s a 12-week tournament open to both professional and non-professional improv performers and it attracts players from throughout the Chicago improv community. College players and recent alums join improv students and professionals from the ComedySportz ensemble as well as other improv clubs around town.


This year’s Dual Duel has fifty teams competing in the three-month tournament. Back for their third try at the title (and a $200 cash prize) are the team called “Man 1 Man 2” - Kevin Pomeroy and Abram Rabinowitz, two ComedySportz ensemble members who have made the Dual Duel finals the last two years but have yet to win the big prize. Their preliminary slot will be in the July 28th show. Other ComedySportz players in the tournament include the yet-to-compete Matt Castellvi and Meg Grunewald, as well as the tough but already defeated Asher Perlman.


But if ComedySportz ensemble members and professionals from other theaters like iO would seem to be favored, some of the up and coming players in the tourney have already made surprising showings. One of the two teams to win the first round of semi-finals on July 7th was The Hermanos Brothers, with teammates Eric Stallings and Bruce Phillips of the ComedySportz Theatre’s house team Legacy (the performers behind the show Criminal Mischief, which follows Dual Duel Sundays at 8:30 pm). And ComedySportz Training Center alum Ariel Ringham together with her teammate Daniel Finerty of the team Danger Granger posted a strong second to The Hermanos Brothers in their preliminary round on June 23rd.  Another surprise was the team of Ron and Lisa Szanyi. Lisa’s a ComedySportz Training Center student who together with brother Ron impressed in her first time on stage before a paying audience, in the first night of prelims on June 9th.


The Hermanos Brothers shared the semi-finals win with Mommy (Greg Yates and Michael Aviles), besting two former members of the Western Washington University 2011 National College Improv Championship Team called Dead Parrots Society. The Dead Parrots alums are Rashawn Scott and Miguel Vila, competing in Dual Duel as Afternoon Puma. The 2013 Dual Duel has some current local college talent as well, including Loyola University students Eric Rahill, Ben Briggs and Emily Bouroudjian  - all members of the Loyola improv team 45 Kings.


At the other end of the age spectrum is Bob Fish. Bob had participated in Dual Duel for a number of years with his son DJ, who’s now off at college and unavailable to play. Bob will compete this year for the first time with a new teammate, Sandy Lacovelli, as Old & Older.


Two of the participating teams pay homage to Chicago improvisers TJ and Dave. A team called “The Improvised TJ and Dave” is actually Josiah Jenkins and Chip Aucoin. They’re regulars in Battle-Prov, which is performed at The ComedySportz Theatre each Wednesday night at 9 pm. Another team, Tea, Jake and Dave, is Jake Allen Miller and David Henry Wrigley. Their shows (which begin with tea shared with the audience) are performed at various venues around Chicago.


The second round of preliminaries begins this Sunday – July 14th – at 7 pm. Between July 14 and August 11, 26 teams will compete for the four slots in the August 18 semi-finals. The two winners from that evening will join Mommy and The Hermanos Brothers in the series finals on August 25th. Will we see another younger team break through and will Man 1 Man 2 get another shot at the title?  We’ll find out.


Duel Dual is performed Sundays at 7 pm as part of the Sunday Double Scoop, which also includes Criminal Mischief at 8:30 pm.  Admission to both shows is just $5.00. Reservations and more info are available at 773-549-8080.

Maria WojciechowskiThis Friday  - July 5th - at midnight, Talk Hard, Chicago’s hit late-night, uncensored talk show is proud to welcome Maria Wojciechowski! Maria is a comedian bringing her unique accordion musical styling, Squeezer to the Talk Hard stage. Maria has been a part of the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival as well as performing in other various comedy fests throughout the city. In addition to live performances, she also has a blog or as she would call it a “blah-g,” http://mariawojo.tumblr.com/.

The show will also feature the Stevens Family. The Stevens Family "punches comedy in its stupid face" when they take over the improv world every Thursday night in their weekly, debauchery-filled show at ComedySportz.  This week, they're joining us on Talk Hard, and their beer-swilling, disgusting selves are guaranteed to take the show to an all-new low.  Anyone who's easily offended should stay at home.

As always, this show is live and uncensored, hosted by the unpredictable Jamie Campbell, and written by a staff that was hand-picked from Chicago’s world famous comedy scene. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at The ComedySportz Theatre box office. Call 773.549.8080 in advance or buy them at the door. Attendance to the 10 p.m. ComedySportz improv show gets audience members into Talk Hard at half price. Life is short – talk hard.

Philadelphia Liberty Bell and HallNo shows Thursday, July 4th - but we're back with free cheese steak samples on July 5th & 6th!

In a special nod to the birthplace of America’s independence, ComedySportz will be offering free samples of Philadelphia’s most famous culinary export – the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich - during the upcoming Fourth of July Weekend.  If you’ve never had one, they’re thinly sliced grilled beef tenderloin with onions and melted cheese on a long roll. Yummy! Our friend and neighbor, Philly’s Best, will be providing these hors d’oeuvre-sized samples for our guests at the 8 pm ComedySportz shows on Friday, July 5th and Saturday, July 6th. Philly’s Best is located at 907 W. Belmont, just the block from us, and is one of our favorites for our lunches, dinners and late night snacks.

philly bestIn observance of the holiday, ComedySportz will be closed on Thursday, July 4th. The box office will reopen on Friday, July 5th at noon and our regular performance schedule will be in effect for all shows for the remainder of the weekend.  So just around the time you recover your appetite from your July 4th cookout, we’ll be ready for you with some tasty Philly’s Best Philly Cheese Steak samples. Tickets are $24 for the 8 pm shows Friday and Saturday and $22 for all others (but no cheese steak for you at those shows, sorry!). Call 773-549-8080 to reserve your tickets!


Talk Hard and The Hot Karl to observe Pride with comedy and cocktails in midnight shows Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29

Talk Hard, Chicago’s hit uncensored Friday midnight talk show - recently named "Chicago's Best Sketch/Improv Troupe" in the 2013 Chicago Reader Best of Chicago Poll. - will welcome Fasto Fernos and Marc Felion, the hosts of the wildly popular podcast, Feast of Fun.  The podcast showcases roundtable discussions, unusual news and social trends with celebrity guests, artists, musicians, and LGBT community members. Feast of Fun ranks as the top-rated gay and lesbian podcast on iTunes and is often listed in the Top 100 list of Comedy podcasts.

The show will also feature a performance by musical guest and YouTube phenom, Samwell! Samwell became an Internet star with his video for the song “What What (In the Butt),” garnering over 50 million views. The song was also featured on South Park. Samwell has appeared as a recurring guest on Tosh.0, and counts Johnny Depp as one of his high-profile fans.

In the spirit of Pride and fun, there may be a few surprise guests too, and someone will be named Queen of the Night. The show is live and uncensored, hosted by the unpredictable Jamie Campbell - recently named by as Chicago's Best Stand-up Comedian in the 2013 Chicago Reader Best of Chicago Poll - and written by a hand-picked staff from Chicago’s world famous comedy scene.


This special Pride Weekend edition of Talk Hard is Friday, June 28 at midnight.  Tickets are just $10.00 ($5.00 for guests of the 10 PM ComedySportz show) and can be reserved by calling 773-549-8080 or visiting Ticketmaster.com

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The Hot Karl. The improv theater’s late night pride weekend celebration will continue the next night at midnight with The Hot Karl, Chicago’s dirtiest improv show. The Hot Karl, named The Chicago Reader’s best improv group a few years back, will turn its trademark twisted riffs on pop culture and relationships to LGBT themes, with special guest performers.


The Hot Karl - Pride Edition - is Saturday, June 29 at midnight. Tickets are just $10.00 ($5.00 for guests of the 10 PM ComedySportz show) and can be reserved by calling 773-549-8080 or visiting ticketmaster.com.