REVIEW: ComedySportz!


Take out normal. Put in family-friendly wacky


ComedySportz bows

The Comedy Sportz Theatre presents
at The Comedy Sportz Theatre
929 W. Belmont Ave. (map
Open Run  |  tickets: $21  |  more info

Reviewed by Oliver Sava

When ComedySportz begins, the improv competitors run throughout the theater, tossing high-fives to the audience as red and blue lights flash erratically and Darude’s “Sandstorm” blares over the speakers. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then ComedySportz is not for you. Audience participation, flashing lights, and dance music are the formula for this “interactive improv experience,” and are repeated throughout the evening as a reminder that yes, you are having fun. The experience appears to be aimed at the tourist and birthday party crowd with its over-the-top tech and family friendly material, but leaves something to be desired when it comes to real laughs. (fyi: Though not their mainstage show, Comedy Sportz also offers adult-humored late-night shows as well)

ComedySportz is a short-form improv competition between two teams, meaning the actors play games dictated by audience suggestions with points gained by audience applause. It’s basically Who’s Line Is It Anyway? but whereas Who’s Line was presented in half hour segments, the two hour long ComedySportz doesn’t have enough substance or momentum to stay captivating.

I applaud ComedySportz for trying to do family friendly improv, but a rhyming game to the tune of “Da Doo Ron Ron” and a person’s day reenacted as a Shakespeare play aren’t very funny. The humor stays inoffensive by being simple, and it feels like the actors have done the games so many times that the spontaneity of the improv experience has begun to wear off. After a while it becomes the Mad Libs style of improv, where something wacky is inserted for something normal and magically comedy is born, and that gets old very quickly.

The points mean nothing, but the show banks on the illusion of competition to keep the momentum going. The second half was saved by a timed game where everyday tasks were reenacted with absurd substitutions and then guessed (ex. Skiing down a pencil with mashed potato skis and Lego goggles), and while the recreations were standard charades material, the added time limit made the actual challenge a nail biter. The problem is that it still isn’t funny, but they are able to hide behind the thrill of competition.

While the actual games are lacking, the enthusiasm of the actors helps elevate the experience. The seven people on stage (3 on each team, 1 referee) never drop their energy and have great chemistry with one another. The most laughs of the night came from the other players’ criticism of the Red Team’s Kate Cohen for not knowing what the Apostles are, showing that some potentially offensive humor might not be such a bad thing. That kind of freedom is what makes improv exciting, and ComedySportz needs to have games that allow the actors full use of their imaginations if they want to create a worthwhile experience.

Rating: ★★

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FYI: Let ComedySportz host your Bachelor/ette Party today – with the option of clean fun or offensive hilarity. 


Theater Thursday: The Last Daughter of Oedipus at BWB

Thursday, August 26

The Last Daughter of Oedipus
Presented by Babes With Blades 
Written by Jennifer Mickelson
Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt, Chicago

lastdaughterJoin Babes With Blades ensemble members and the artistic staff for a pre-show reception! Enjoy Greek-themed hors d’oeuvres and a behind-the-scenes peek at the people and processes that guided The Last Daughter of Oedipus to its world premiere (our review ★★★½). Then settle in for the show, and follow Ismene, sole surviving child of Oedipus and Jocasta, as she fights to break the curse that devastated her family and now threatens to destroy Thebes. This groundbreaking production combines sword and shield, staff, and unarmed combat with voice and movement work to push the boundaries of physical and vocal storytelling

Event begins at 7 p.m.   Show begins at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $25   For reservations call 773.904.0391 and mention "Theater Thursdays."