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DOWNEY – Sporting events aren’t all about physical endurance and using a ball, but rather can be about using quick wit and having perfect comedic timing, which is the case for the Downey High School ComedySportz team.
ComedySportz is a game of competitive improv, much like the television show Who’s Line Is It Anyway. Teams from across Southern California high schools come together in front of an audience not to battle for the most goals or a high score, but for who can garner the most laughs from their on-the-spot jokes.
Since ComedySportz is 100 percent improvised, nothing is scripted and everything is spur of the moment. Coming up with jokes on the spot may sound pretty simple, but it takes actual training and practices to obtain perfect timing.
“[In practice] we go over upcoming games, practice different improv games and talk about fundraising ideas,” said team manager David Apodaca. “We practice a lot of opening games, guessing games, scene games, and end games for shows and were trying to get a show together for Family Fun Night. It’s a lot of stuff.”
ComedySportz has been a staple at Downey High for years and has gone through several changes since being introduced to the Vikings. After last year’s team of almost all graduating seniors, two members returned and auditioned an entire new group potential comedians. New members had to be more than just funny and have the ability to come up with jokes, they needed to believe in themselves and the joke to be able to connect with an audience. For some, going in front of crowds is a piece of cake while for others it is a completely new learning experience.
“We were looking for people who were not too energetic but were comfortable in front of people. I would tell them not to think of it as game but as practice instead,” said Apodaca. “So far the new players have been doing really good with not being stuck with one story line and not saying anything offensive, but some still need to learn to follow through with their scenes.”
While ComedySportz is all about bringing the funny to the students by the students, the young comedians are in good company with professional improv veterans. In addition to being advised by the head of the Downey High drama department, Lars Hansen, the ComedySportz team has the privilege of being trained by professional improvisers from the LA team, who have their own theater and shows right in the middle of Hollywood. Before any new member can go before an audience, they are taught everything they need to know about improv and own their skills in order to succeed on stage.
This year, the Downey ComedySportz team has already put on several successful shows and plans to continue that success into the next year. Bringing the funny is what ComedySportz does best and with more players likely to return next year, the team will have plenty of opportunities to bring laughter to audiences at high schools for years to come.
Published: April 30, 2010 – Volume 9 – Issue 2