By Emmy Serviss / Boston
In 2021, I went on a two-week tour of Texas to play with my ComedySportz friends, and I accidentally ate my weight in BBQ.
In 2022, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest to play with my ComedySportz friends, and I accidentally got Covid.
In 2023, I helped plan a three-day event in Boston to play with my ComedySportz friends and it was accidentally purposely a huge success!
Before I describe the event, I should explain what the big deal is with this ComedySportz thing.
ComedySportz is a fun, fast-paced improv show that’s played as a sport. If you’ve ever seen “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, the games played are very similar to the ones on the show, except that there’s a Red Team, a Blue Team and a Referee. There are almost 30 ComedySportz cities across the United States, plus one in Manchester, England!
Since we play improv as a “sport,” we have a yearly event (a comedy Championship) in a different city every year. It’s normally a massive event with hundreds of players traveling to a particular city for almost a week of workshops, team-building, performances and very silly camaraderie. However, since Covid reared its ugly head in 2020, our Championship event has looked very different.
For two years (2020 and 2021), we held an online Championship with varying degrees of success. In 2022, we returned to an in-person Championship in Seattle, which was mostly successful, with the exception of Omicron running rampant during the back half of the event.
While it was great to be back in-person for a ComedySportz Championship that year, it was NOT great to catch Covid during the event. There was a collective understanding that while ComedySportz players want to be back in-person for these events, it’s a much different undertaking now than it was in the past.
This year, ComedySportz Worldwide opted for smaller regional events, as opposed to one giant championship event. There was the Southern Regional in Houston back in February, the Western Regional in San Jose back in April and Boston hosted the Eastern Regional at the end of June.
(There’s also the European Regional that’s part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.)
Members of the ComedySportz Boston team and I started planning in March of 2023 – securing a hotel and performance venue, ordering merch for visitors and audience members, and creating countless spreadsheets to track all the data amongst us.
The months ticked down, and players kept registering. We originally expected a dozen or so players at the event, but we ended up having nearly 50 players here in Boston! Despite our event being just one of four Regional events, due to the overwhelming number of registered players, our event was lovingly nicknamed “Baby Champs” and then “Bhamps” for short.
We realized that we were accidentally (and unofficially) hosting Championship.
It was super exciting and absolutely terrifying.
Players from various Blue Teams across three matches (photo credit: Sophia Koevary)
While there were some “hilarious” hiccups in the planning process, such as the hotel that we originally secured a deal with changing owners and causing some headaches for our visitors or receiving two boxes full of broken mugs before finally getting an unbroken shipment, the majority of the event went off without a hitch.
Thursday night we held a welcome party for our visitors including a very special performance from the Boston team, followed by snacks and karaoke. On Friday we held two amazing workshops led by improv experts, and while our out-of-towners explored the city, Boston players prepared for the matches.
Players from various Red Teams across three matches (photo credit: Brainne Edge)
Our regular performing space, The Rozzie Square Theater, seats 40 comfortably, which wouldn’t even hold all our visiting players, let alone an audience. So we partnered with The Substation down the street in Roslindale, and all visiting ComedySportz players, plus Boston players PLUS 50+ audience members each night were able to enjoy three fantastic matches.
While I can’t pick just ONE favorite moment from the weekend, I will definitely say that on more than one occasion, I’d look around and see my Boston teammates mingling with players from other cities, and it just made me smile.
It made me so happy to see so many amazing performers (who are also my friends!) chatting with Boston players who have just finished their first year as a ComedySportz player.
It made me so happy to see Worldwide players walking along the streets of Roslindale, spending time in our theater and visiting the businesses that we’ve neighbored for the last five years.
It made me so happy to hear from player after player that they were having a great time in Boston, and we put on a fantastic event.
We spent almost four months planning this event, but then it felt like I blinked and it was over. It was exhausting and wonderful. I was sad to see my friends all head back to their respective cities, but I was also relieved that it was over and I could rest.
And I’m also very glad next year’s Championship will be in Milwaukee.
Emmy Serviss is a Boston-based writer, actor and video editor. Once it is safe to return to live theater, you can find her performing with ComedySportz Boston and the sketch group SUZZY. When not on the stage, Emmy enjoys indulging in her new pandemic hobbies, laughing way too loudly and counting the days until Halloween.