The ComedySportz World Championship is a quick-witted, high-energy competition with improvised games and scenes performed in four minutes or less. Audiences have a hand in shaping each match with their suggestions and votes, and each scene has never been done before and will never be done again, much like the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?
This year the 2018 ComedySportz World Championship takes place in Los Angeles with over 25 teams competing at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo from June 28 through June 30, 2018. It’s not comedy about sports, it’s comedy played as a sport, complete with referee, Astroturf, a ballpark organ and the national anthem. The audience helps pick the games, yells suggestions and ultimately decides the winners. Always bouncing from the mildly cerebral to slapstick, ComedySportz appeals to all ages.
Competing teams come from across the United States and the United Kingdom for three days of training and then begin the tournament matches on June 28. This year’s teams are from Austin TX, Boise ID, Boston MA, Buffalo NY, Chicago IL, Cincinnati OH, Columbus OH, Dallas TX, Denver CO, Detroit MI, Houston TX, Indianapolis IN, Los Angeles CA, Manchester UK, Milwaukee WI, New York NY, Philadelphia PA, Portland ME, Portland OR, Provo UT, Quad Cities IL/IA, Richmond VA, Sacramento CA, San Antonio TX, San Jose CA, Seattle WA, St. Louis MO, Twin Cities MN, and Washington DC.
Photo by B. Gardner
ComedySportz is the longest-running show in the history of Los Angeles, having played continuously since it opened on November 19, 1988. Founded and directed by Artistic Director James Thomas Bailey,ComedySportz debuted at West Coast Ensemble in Hollywood. It then played at the Tamarind Theatre in Hollywood (now the Upright Citizens Brigade) from 1992 until moving into The CSz Los Angeles Theatre in 2002 (formerly the Melrose Theatre, and then the HBO Workspace) on Seward Street in Hollywood. In May of 2016, CSz Los Angeles took up residence at the historic El Portal Theatre in the North Hollywood Arts District. The shows are always completely interactive, and suitable for all audiences. Because everything is improvised, no two matches are alike. Fans never see the same thing twice, and they return again and again to cheer on their favorite players.
CSz Los Angeles has offered many other hit shows through the years, and has also entertained at hundreds of corporate, institutional and private events. They have become experts at providing custom entertainment and teambuilding workshops with clients including Google, Yahoo, Disney, SONY, Nestle, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Hulu and the U.S. State Department. CSz LA is most proud of The High School League®, the largest teen improv program in the United States, now in more than 75 schools in Southern California.
ComedySportz was originally conceived by Dick Chudnow and first performed in Milwaukee, where it continues to play today. For more historical information, visit cszworldwide.com
Photo by B Garnder
Photo by B Gardner
Notable ComedySportz Alumni:
Jessica Williams, The Daily Show, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Ari Stidham, Scorpion
Danny Ricker, co-head writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Steve Agee, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Sarah Silverman Program
Amy Hill, UnReal, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Just Add Magic
Derek Mears, Friday the 13th
Jeff B. Davis, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Jonathan Mangum, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Let’s Make A Deal
Chris Tallman, The Thundermans, Reno 911
Lauren Pritchard, MADtv, Stuck in the Middle
Eric Price MADtv
Andre Meadows, Black Nerd/Youtube
Jason Sudekis, Saturday Night Live, many feature films (CSz Kansas City)
Dan Harmon, Community (CSz Milwaukee)
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CSz LA High School League)
Colton Dunn, Key and Peele (CSz Twin Cities)
$15 - $20 to purchase tickets and more information: http://www.cszla.com/tickets or call 323.871.1183
Thursday, June 28: 7:00 p.m. (Opening Ceremonies and match); 9:30 p.m.
Friday, June 29: 7:30 p.m.; 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 30: 5:00 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.; 10:00 p.m. (Championship match)
The historic El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
We asked James Thomas Bailey, ComedySportz Artistic Director/Founder, some questions about the company and World Championships.
What makes ComedySportz unique?
ComedySportz is unique in many ways—we’re the longest running show in the history of Los Angeles—30 years this November! All ComedySportz shows are suitable for all ages, which means someone could bring their date, their mom, their kids, their boss and not have to worry. That’s a wide demographic—and they all laugh together every week.
We also do corporate entertainment and training.
We also have the largest teen improv program in the United States—the High School League®—with teams in more than 75 schools in Southern California.
How did you get into improv and why do you stick with it?
I fell into it by accident. I was invited to see an improv show just after I graduated college, and I couldn’t believe how magical it was. My passion led me to open the Los Angeles ComedySportz team in 1988, and I’ve been with it ever since. Improv changed the way I walk through the world—the skills and lessons it teaches are transformative.
Are there any other world improv competitions?
There are certainly festivals and competitions of sorts, but nothing like ComedySportz. We have thirty teams in the United States and Europe, and, just like baseball or any other sport, we all play by the same rules. It’s very easy and fun for us to get together for competitions, especially the ComedySportz World Championship.
How long is each nightly event?
Each show contains two matches (four teams). We have two shows on Thursday (7:00 pm & 9:00 pm), two on Friday (7:30 and 10:00 pm) and three on Saturday (5:00 pm, 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm Championship).
How does it work? Semi finals? Quarter finals? Finals? Knock out rounds, etc.
Points are tallied all week long, during non-public preliminary matches, and during the semi finals and finals, which are public.
Photo by B. Gardner
Why do you think improv is so popular with audiences?
Our fans have told us the love ComedySportz because we’re accessible—they yell suggestions, call for fouls, volunteer on stage, cheer the teams, talk to the referee and greet us afterward. There’s a certain amount of risk involved—creating something from nothing—that makes it unique and magical. That performance will never happen again. Our fans return again and again because no two shows are the same, and that has allowed them to build a relationship with us.
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