Filling a comedic void 

The forces behind ComedySportz are fighting back against the sexist, racist and homophobic comedy routines that are all too common

click to enlarge Erin Carr Adams - SHANNON SAMSON
  • Erin Carr Adams
  • Shannon Samson
“I was really unsure if we could get an audience at 10:00 p.m. on a school night,” says ComedySportz's co-creator and executive producer Mia Lee Roberts. “But, people are showing up and it's been really great. The diversity in acts has been a good surprise, too.”

Six weeks into “The 10 @ 10” it's pretty damn clear it's a success by any standard of the definition. Ten comedians perform at this open mic night at Comedy Sportz on Mass Ave every Thursday at 10 p.m. Each act gets five minutes, except for the headliner who gets ten, wrapping up the shows in 90 minutes. 

Once the show was up and running comedians rushed to get spots, and it was booked through July by early June. In addition to traditional standup, “The 10 @ 10” showcases storytellers, magicians, mentalists, musicians, improvisers, impressionists and Bill Wilkison, who reads unopened letters from his estranged mother. Chris Hansen will be bringing in live animals from Silly Safaris on July 30.

Co-creator and CSz Player Erin Carr Adams is really surprised by the quality of acts considering she books anyone who asks and has often never met some of the performers.

“My goal is to put people in a place where they can do good or even great work for whatever level they are at and we’ve been getting that,” Carr Adams said.

She said she makes a special effort to treat all the performers like professionals and be a supportive host. Carr Adams writes introductions for each and assembles a custom playlist for every show so they can walk on the stage to their personal theme song. She requires each performer to refrain from being overtly racist or sexist. She also asks them to stay for the entire show to watch each act.

“I did standup in a couple of other places around town and had really bad experiences," says Carr Adams. "Mostly with how negative the atmosphere was. I was also really bothered by how sexist, racist and homophobic much of the other comedians' material was. One club owner got up and did an incredibly misogynistic set that made me really uncomfortable as a female audience member.”

Carr Adams is quick to point out she is quite comfortable with adult material, but not when it’s delivered with hostility and excludes the audience. She has seen comedians make jokes at the expense of the less seasoned ones and even a few performers in Chicago sleeping in the back through the opening acts.

Carr Adams said she knows her efforts are paying off because one headliner told her “I usually do standup shows, so I am not used to all this positivity.” He also told her watching the other acts inspired him to try out some new material. Carr Adams and Roberts feel they’ve successfully recreated the welcoming atmosphere they both experienced when they did standup at the all-female “Gal Pal Comedy Fest” on the CSz stage in March, but now the stage is open to everyone.

The inaugural run of “The 10 @ 10” is scheduled to end in September, but Carr Adams is hoping it becomes an open run. She wants to build it into one of the top open mics in Indy.

Roberts said her goal is world domination. “Until then, we want to continue to provide a safe, creative space for people to try out new material and just get on a stage in front of people. Standup, storytelling, performing alone can be difficult and scary. There is no competition here, just supportive people with the same goal. And also, DOOR PRIZES!”

Tickets go for $5. 

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