Improv

INTERVIEW: ComedySportz Returns To The Stage

This month has seen lots of acts return to the stage after a long break due the Pandemic and Covid restrictions. One group that is returning to theatres in Manchester is none other than ComedySportz and they are returning with a bang. This Saturday they are performing not one but two shows at Waterside Arts. It sounded so exciting, I had to find out more from Sean.

Hello  tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!

Hello! We are ComedySportz, a competitive short-form improv show from Manchester! Each show – or match – sees two teams go for comedy gold with unscripted gags and games. There is a referee on hand to ensure a good clean match – it’s a family friendly show – and the audience help decide the winners! Three things you might not know about us:  We have more players that are cat owners than dog owners, we’ve performed everywhere from big theatres to an old converted swimming baths, and 2021 marks our 20th year of fun and laughter! 

How did your troupe form?

ComedySportz came to the UK as a one-off event for charity way back in 2001! The original team – then part of a youth theatre in Chorley – loved the show and it has kept growing from there. We’re a pretty big team cast wise and everyone has their own unique improv story.

How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?

The show is comedy played as a sport so we’re the ronseal of improv, doing exactly what it says on the tin!

How did you get into improv?

We all found different ways into improv, mostly through our workshops as there wasn’t anything else happening in Manchester for a long time. For many of us it started by seeing a show and wanting to get involved in the fun!

How has the last year in lockdown been for you?

Lockdown hasn’t been without its challenges but we kept having online socials and takeaway races to see who could order and get their food first! We were able to stay connected, doing shows and also play with other ComedySportz teams worldwide more often than we would be able to normally. The hardest part of lockdown were the false restarts last autumn. We were due to return to live shows and then the second wave hit and Manchester got shut down. It was difficult watching live shows continue elsewhere when we had all of our venues shut. Finally, we can get back to live shows!

Have you managed to do many online shows?

We’ve done almost 150 online shows at this stage! We jumped online pretty quickly – sometimes you have a situation and you’ve just got to Yes, And it! We watched some of our early shows back the other day and they were pretty rough so thank you to the audience that stuck with us and has grown steadily over the past year! We know not everyone is ready to return to live events – and we now have people watching from outside the UK – so we’re continuing our online shows every Wednesday and first Saturday of the month at 7pm BST. Our online shows are free to watch but donations are gratefully received! You can watch all of our online shows at youtube.com/cszuk!

And now you are returning to the stage!!! How exciting! What are you looking forward to the most?

Loads of things! Hearing laughter from the audience, sharing a space and being in the moment together.  Also, after a year of doing improv sat at home, it’s going to be exciting just to see other people’s legs again! And, best of all, we don’t have to worry about our internet cutting out mid sce-

How are you adapting to social distancing rules?
We’ve made a few temporary changes to keep shows fun but safe for players and audience alike. You can find out more here: https://youtu.be/phjqrLTnjFg

How did the show come about?
We’ve been at the Waterside now for nearly fourteen years. It’s been heartbreaking to watch as shows are rescheduled or straight up cancelled. We can’t wait to be back!

Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening this week? 

We have two shows this Saturday. In the afternoon we have ComedySportz 4 Tots show which’ll be jam packed with big laughs for little kids. It’s an improvised show with silly songs and games for kids aged 6 and under. Then in the evening we have our main ComedySportz show which sees two teams compete for audience laughs with improvised gags and games. Our players have washed their kits and sharpened their wits ready for whatever the audience through at us! 

What three things are you looking forward to about performing in this show?
Seeing all the brilliant staff at Waterside Arts again, getting to really connect in scene work (eye contact!) and getting to hear the audience. Improv is such a great shared experience and whilst our online shows have gone some way to capture that we can’t wait to all be in the same room! 

What is the time, date and price for your show? Ticket link please as well to promote

ComedySportz 4 Tots | 29th May | 3-4pm | £5/£3 | BOOK HERE: https://watersidearts.org/whats-on/2877-comedysportz-4-tots-2/

ComedySportz | 29th May | 6.30-8.30pm | £8/£6 | BOOK HERE: https://watersidearts.org/whats-on/2883-comedysportz-2/

How do you warm up before a show? 

Online our warm ups mostly consist of making a lovely cup of tea. When we get back into the same space it’s going to be eye contact.

What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
The best suggestion is whatever the last suggestion was. We’re a show for all ages so we get suggestions that cover a wide range of reference points – in one guessing game players had to improvised a ballet depicting the invention of the Sinclair C5. Half the fun was explaining to the other, younger members of the audience what that was before the game even began!

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 (facebook.com/cszmanchesteruk) and Instagram (@cszmanchester). For more information about shows and workshops visit www.comedysportz.co.uk

And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show? 
Live Shows? Amazing!


QUICK FIRE ROUND

 If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?

Right now? Probably our families. 

 What’s the best piece advice you’ve received?

Do or do not. There is no try.

Do you have any pets?

We have lots of cats, a few of which have made their way into our online shows over the past year. Sometimes the audience give the cats more points than we get!

 If you could be from any other decade (or era), which would it be??

Ten years from now when everything will definitely be better than the last year.

If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?

Our head honcho Bron Edge already has “Yes, And” tattooed on her wrist. 

 What’s on your music playlists right now?

Iceland’s Eurovision entry (last year and this year) on repeat. They were robbed!

 Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Olivia Coleman. Because she’s in everything.

 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Being able to prevent show stopping pandemics with the power of showstopping improv!

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