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Comedy Sportz calls for audience participation

PUNNY PALS:   Performing under the spotlight, juniors Jack Taylor and Ellie Eavenson improvise their act during the Comedy Sportz show, alongside Leader Beth Ann Barber. Two teams compete for points in Comedy Sportz competitions and audience participation is always incorporated.

Rachel Nwia

PUNNY PALS: Performing under the spotlight, juniors Jack Taylor and Ellie Eavenson improvise their act during the Comedy Sportz show, alongside Leader Beth Ann Barber. Two teams compete for points in Comedy Sportz competitions and audience participation is always incorporated.

Karina Benson, asst. a&e editor

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Quick— think fast. What’s something hilariously funny and unbelievably witty that will make this audience roar with laughter? From games to wacky situations made up entirely on the spot, South’s improvisational group Comedy Sportz does it every time, all the while thinking quickly on their feet.

South’s group attempts to emulate Comedy Sportz Chicago, with two teams competing for points. According to Beth Ann Barber, Drama teacher and leader of Comedy Sports, the competition aspect is designed for entertainment purposes and adds to the act overall. Along with the actors, according to Barber, the audience participates in every act.

“[The audience has] to determine something about each of the improv games that we play, so we [may] ask for locations, objects or something for the scene,” Barber said. “We try to get at least one audience volunteer on stage for every show, and that is always risky but it always works out great.”

The act of improvisation takes practice, according to Barber, and she says there are many rules that the members are introduced to in the beginning: make everybody look good, don’t say no and play to the height of your intelligence. In order to improve on their skills, Barber says the members then utilize these rules through a variety of different games.

“[Games] are really how you prepare because you never know what the audience is going to say,” Barber said. “We purposely try not to pick things that we’ve rehearsed because it makes it more fun and interesting. We don’t want it to be the same.”

Senior Erin Kirby says she attended and participated in several of the acts during the Comedy Sportz show she attended. According to Kirby, she especially enjoys the Comedy Sportz shows, as she finds there is more creativity required in their performance and both the audience and the performers are challenged to think on their feet.

“When everyone said ‘The Audience,’ or when we had to vocalize certain places, people or objects that they were going to use, it made you feel like you were part of the show too and they were just acting it out,” Kirby said. “It’s really fun from that perspective and to see it all happen.”

Junior Claudia Tardif says that Comedy Sportz is one of the highlights of her year, in regards to the Theatre Department. According to Tardif, this is her second year participating in Comedy Sportz and she has found herself enjoying improv. Tardif says that every scene is different and they all attempt to use an advanced sense of humor.

“Sometimes it is hard because someone in your scene will say something and it will throw you off and it will be totally out of the ordinary because that is what improv is,” Tardif said. “So then, you have to think of something that helps whatever they say make sense. You have to be able to play off your partners and work with them, [along with] yourself.

Similarly, Senior Alejandro Alvarado says he watched the Comedy Sportz performances his freshman and sophomore years and was always intrigued by them. However, according to Alvarado, it was the Drama 3 class he took as a sophomore that inspired him to try out for the team. According to Alvarado, Comedy Sportz has now become his favorite theatre activity.

“It was definitely scary for me,” Alvarado said. “I think that’s why I didn’t audition for it freshman or sophomore year. I was kind of intimidated by it and like, ‘How do you think of stuff that quickly on the spot. That seems so hard and nerve-wracking, how do you not plan?’ I’m someone who likes to plan ahead of time, so I thought I could never do that.”

According to Tardif, there were a lot of South students in the audience at each show, and she said it was really enjoyable to perform amongst her peers. Likewise, Alvarado says that he believes anyone can be successful at improv if they give it a chance.

“I don’t think you even need to be really interested in other [kinds of] theatre to get into improv,” Alvarado said. “Everybody loves to laugh. I think it’s easy for anyone to get into it and it’s really not as difficult as people make it out to be.”

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Comedy Sportz calls for audience participation