For this weeks show of the week we are heading up to a place where we haven’t as of yet done a lot of coverage for so to be interviewing one of the biggest acts in this city is quite an honour! This week we are heading up to Manchester to meet Sean Mason who is part of ComedySportz UK. This week on the 15th of June they have not one but 2 shows – ComedySportz 4 Tots at 3pm and ComedySportz at 6.30pm. They are the only ComedySportz team outside of the USA and this week they have not one but TWO shows! I caught up with Sean to find out all about them.
Hello tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
My name is Sean Mason and I’m part of ComedySportz UK. We’re primarily a family friendly show (though we do other shows too) and Manchester’s longest running improv comedy courses. We also put the worldwide into CSz Worldwide – one of the world’s largest families of improv shows, theatres and workshops – by currently being the only ComedySportz team outside of the USA.
How did the show come about?
It started when our team manager Braínne Edge was living in America and saw a ComedySportz show over there. She contacted founder of ComedySportz Dick Chudnow to get permission to perform a show for Children in Need back in the UK with her youth theatre. Dick thought this was a great idea and was really supportive. This was way back in 2001 and we’ve grown from there!
How did your troupe form?
It started as part of Chorley Youth Theatre before moving down the road to Manchester when we started running workshops and grew our roster of players from there. We’ve had residencies at The Frog and Bucket and The Comedy Store and this month celebrate our 11th year at Waterside Arts. It’s a bit mad/exciting to think we’ve been doing this for nearly 18 years in total!
Tell us a little bit about the show that are happening this week?
We actually have two shows this weekend! Our main show, ComedySportz, is a competitive format that sees two teams battle it out for laughs with gags and games with the audience deciding the winners. There’s a referee on hand to field suggestions and ensure a good clean match with penalties for bad behaviour (it’s a family friendly show after all) and bad jokes.
In the last couple of years we’ve also started doing an afternoon show for kids aged six and under called ComedySportz 4 Tots. This is what happens when you’re troupe has been going long enough for players to start having their own kids. It’s an hour of silly songs and adventures. Keeping kids that age entertained for an hour is a real work out!
We’ll be celebrating 11 years at The Waterside in Sale who have just been a really supportive venue and allowed us to grow our audience and develop new shows.
How did you get into improv?
Watching it at University, attending workshops and then inviting myself to social events until they asked me if I wanted to join the team. I remember seeing my first ComedySportz show and just wanting to be a part of it ever since. It’s fun, fast, friendly and inclusive.
What improv styles do you think are most underrated?
Shortform gets a bad rep sometimes, and we had one reviewer telling us the competitive format would never work (but hey, it’s our 18th year and ComedySportz itself has been going worldwide for 35+ years). It’s important that audiences know that the points matter but everyone on stage is up there to support each other – even the other team. “Competition” is the narrative of the show but we’ve got each other’s backs. We play to win and don’t care if we lose.
What festivals are you guys planning on heading to this year?
We’ll be at the Edinburgh Fringe 1st-17th August. We love going to Edinburgh and always go as part of the Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival because we believe families especially should be able to go and see as many shows as possible without having to sell one of the kids to afford the tickets.
It is the month of June – what’s your most memorable character that you have created on stage?
I have terrible improv amnesia but I love whenever I get to play the villain in our Improvised Pantomimes, hamming it up and playing with the audience.
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe themselves?
Make sure it is a fun environment for everyone on and off stage and don’t let Yes, And trap you into scenes you’re not enjoying.
What is the best thing about a night at your show for the audience?
Being part of the show. Not just giving suggestions but getting involved in the competitive aspect of the show, deciding teams fates and volunteering for games. It’s totally inclusive. It’s also a family friendly show that really is fun for all ages and audiences.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
You can find us on twitter (@ComedySportz_UK), facebook (www.facebook.com/cszmanchesteruk) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/cszmanchester). We were on still on MySpace too until someone accidentally wiped their server.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
It’s super funny.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Once a kid kept rolling Malteser’s onto the stage so one of our players I kept eating them. Is that strange? Or just a case of when too much Yes And can lead to bad tummy?
If you could trade lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?
The comedy commissioner of a major broadcaster so there could be more improv on TV.
What would your autobiography be called?
Play To Win, Don’t Care If We Lose.
What is the most delightful word you can think of?
Lanolin. It’s just so much fun to say.
Who is your comedy hero and why?
Mike Myers who not only created some great characters but also played a major (but I think sometimes overlooked) part in forming the Comedy Store Players in London.
What is your favourite movie quote?
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. (I wrote a whole blog on Star Wars and Improv last month).
If you could be any flavour of ice cream what would it be and why?
Cookie Dough. It’s both a delightful flavour and a good descriptor of what eating a whole tub of it turns my stomach into.
Currently watching on Netflix?
She Ra and The Princesses of Power, Tuca and Bertie and Nailed It.
For More information about the shows then please click here