The Tournament of Laughter 

ComedySportz is hosting a world championship of improv

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If there's anything Hoosiers love – it's a shot at a title. But this time, it's all in the name of improvisational comedy.

At 721 Mass. Ave. there lives and breathes ComedySportz, a headquarters for laughter, and as such, entirely unpredictable and humorously madcap events for Hoosiers to get excited about. Certainly, we all need some more humor in our lives these days. Indianapolis won the championship title in 2011 when the tournament was hosted here, and it's time for the Naptown Team to take the trophy once more.

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Indianapolis itself is home to one of the larger venues when compared nationally, and has occupied the same location the longest (since 1999). It also has one of the largest team rosters in the world (over 50 players). It's on our home turf again this year and that means a shot at the championship.

“It means a great deal to us that the other owners and shareholders trust us to host the Championship, says Mia Lee Roberts, founder and co-owner of ComedySportz Indy.

“Several cities vie for the opportunity each year because it allows your entire roster of players to attend and be involved and allows a large number of them to play on the national stage in front of 300 or more of their peers. The home team gets more matches which means a better shot at the championship match and winning the whole thing. We won when we hosted in 2011. We came in second in Buffalo, New York in 2013 and we haven't been in a final match since then so we are really excited about our chances this year.” 

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And so are ComedySportz supporters. Indianapolis has a solid team and a real shot at that title they seek. While they gear up for the main international tournament, they stay busy offering year-round classes, workshops, student groups, camps, private shows, and the ever-popular murder mysteries. (Personally, I like a good murder-mystery, albeit one where we can all live another day to talk about it.) Additionally, ComedySportz has grown over the years, in scope and active members.

“Nationally, we have grown with the addition of cities over the years and with certain guidelines in place, audiences are accustomed to seeing a really fun all-ages show no matter what city they see perform,” says Roberts. “Locally, we have grown from an 8 person team in 1993 performing at any theatre that would have us roughly 50 shows per year to a roster of over 50 performers performing over 300 shows per year.”

It just seems like only yesterday I was a ridiculously shy speech and debate team member in high school myself, dying for a shot at first place. Or any place, really. But it seems the same year I graduated high school, having never won that title, ComedySportz was just starting their league.

“In 1996 we started our high school league with one team of a group of kids from different high schools and we have now grown that to 14 area high schools that play ComedySportz as a traveling theatre sport which is something we are really proud of,” says Roberts. “Then, in 1997 we started our education department after several of us trained for and wrote the syllabus for our Group Unity Training Seminars (GUTS) and we have been using the rules of improvisation to teach large corporations and small companies how to communicate and lead better.”

That is a lot of growth in 23 years.

Most importantly, ComedySportz comedic offerings are appropriate for all ages.

“We are improvising, so, making things up, completely based on audience suggestions so anything about any subject can happen with any kind of people, places or things. Any person, age 5-95, can come to ComedySportz and have a great time. And because it's all made up on the spot, our fans can come back anytime and never see the same show twice. It's just a different, fun experience every time. We feel really strongly that comedy and theatre that is accessible to all ages is really important. Parents and kids can enjoy the show together and enjoy it as much as the couple on a date at the next table.”

June 8-11, various times
The Historic Athenaeum Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St.
All 8 matches $99

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Dr. Rhonda Baughman

Dr. Rhonda Baughman

Dr. Rhonda Baughman loves to travel, eat, write, watch movies, go to concerts, and play with her vinyl record collection. Her latest novel is about an English teacher who's also an assassin. Follow her on Twitter, not in real life, because she's actually an English teacher, but probably not an assassin - although... more

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