New Auditioning Workshop to be Held Saturday, September 8th
Auditioning 101: How to prepare for an improv audition (when you can't
In this new workshop, called "Auditioning 101: How to prepare for an improv audition when you can't prepare," participants will have the opportunity to experience an audition step-by-step, get in the mindset of the auditors, ask questions about auditions and plan ahead for improvised auditions. Auditioning as a skill set, rather than luck of the draw or something that "happens" will be the focus.
By the end of this workshop participants will: have a specific plan of attack for upcoming auditions, focused on an area of previous auditions that have caused them difficulty, begin to create a plan to reduce the amount of anxiety for auditions.
About the instructor – Lisa Linke
Lisa has been improvising for thirteen years, but performing her whole life. She moved to Chicago in 1999 and began studying at The Second City Training Center. Since then, she has completed training with Second City’s Beginning Program, Conservatory, Writing Program, iO (formerly Improv Olympic), and The Annoyance. She has studied with TJ Jagadowski, Mick Napier, Susan Messing, Norm Holly, Michael Gellman, Noah Gregoropolous, Liz Allen and Joe Bill.
She has performed with Mustang Repair, a Playground Theater member team since 2001 and was on a Harold team, Cougars, at iO for six years. She performed with the former Noble Fool Theater with the long-running hit Sex In The Suburbs and The Baritones. She co-wrote 2007’s Flawed As Rain with Roger Payton, and was on the writing staff and cast of both INK and Big News Chicago at iO. She’s an ensemble member at ComedySportz, and performs weekly with the long-running hit Big Yellow Bus and Critic’s Pick Out Of Character, and ensembles Mustang Repair and MORT at The Playground Theater. Recently she performed the Highly Recommended A Woman’s Path at The Annoyance, and was in the acclaimed remount of Close Quarters at iO. In 2012 she filmed an episode of Shameless for Showtime Networks.
Lisa teaches all levels of improvisation at iO, Sketch Comedy Writing at the Second City Training Center, and travels around the world facilitating corporate improv workshops with Second City Communications and other companies. She writes, directs, produces and performs in short films, sketch and improvised theater all around Chicago. Accomplishments include the 2011 Just For Laughs Festival and the Chicago Improv Festival, and in past years the San Francisco Improv Festival, Dccomedyfest, Sketchfest and the Del Close Marathon in NYC.
Nice Things People Say
The Close Quarters ensemble was called “awe-inspiring” by Time Out Chicago
Linke’s decent acting allows for “a unique impression: Linke is especially convincing as various insecure women bordering on crazy.” - Ryan Hubbard, Chicago Reader
“Lisa Linke was hilarious” – Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune
When: Saturday, September 8th from 2-5pm
Where: The ComedySportz Theatre (929 W. Belmont Ave.)
Four Charities to Benefit from ComedySportz’s Donations, Volunteerism and Awareness-Building
ComedySportz of Chicago is concluding its three-month celebration of its 25th Anniversary with four weeks of fundraising and awareness-building partnerships with local non-profit organizations who serve the community and also have special connections to the comedy theater. ComedySportz President and CEO Matt Elwell explains how the company decided to include a month of giving back to the community in its anniversary plans. “Over our 25 years, we’ve seen how the joy, imagination, and laughter that come from improv comedy make people's lives better. We're so grateful for the support we've received in this community, that we wanted to help other organizations that make Lakeview and the world better places to live.”
To deliver on that promise, ComedySportz is partnering with four different community organizations - one for each of the last four weekends in September. For each partner, ComedySportz will donate $5.00 for every full-price individual ticket sold over the course of a six-performance weekend. The organizations will also present information on their missions and programs at ComedySportz shows. Beyond that, ComedySportz players will donate time volunteering to assist these partners with their ongoing work.
The Night Ministry is partner for weekend of September 6 – 8, 2012.
The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based organization that works to provide housing, health care and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness. Many people may know The Night Ministry through their outreach programs, which make regular stops in neighborhoods throughout the city, providing services to clients on the streets. “The Night Ministry provides vital services to people in need and we're proud to support the work they do,” Elwell says.
Funny Bones Improv - providing laughter for hospitalized kids – will be featured in shows from Sept. 13 – 15.
It sounds like the name of a comedy club, but Funny Bones Improv is a non-profit organization that shares the gifts of laughter with sick children, their families and caretakers in hospitals across Chicago. ComedySportz players will join forces with Funny Bones Improv’s volunteers to take part in shows at Lurie Children’s Hospital on Monday, September 10th. Funny Bones Improv performers will in turn be guest players in ComedySportz’s show on Thursday, September 13th. “These people are bringing joy into the lives of some young people who could really use a laugh,” Elwell explains. "We’re proud to support the work being done by these members of our extended family of improv performers.”
ComedySportz to partner with Lymphoma Research Foundation from September 20 – 22 in the name of an ensemble member who succumbed to the disease.
Longtime ComedySportz performer Mike Enriquez, well-known and loved in the Chicago improv community, unexpectedly passed away in January after a remission from lymphoma. The week’s activities will offer a special opportunity for the ComedySportz ensemble to both celebrate Mike’s life and raise money for the research, educational and supportive services provided to people like Mike by the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Chicago Chapter Regional Manager Heidi Thompson says, “The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted to funding innovative research and providing people with lymphoma and healthcare professionals with up-to-date information about this type of cancer. Our mission is to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease. Chicago is proud to be home to the very first LRF volunteer chapter across the country, and as we celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year and Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September, we are thrilled to be a part of this event with ComedySportz and proud to take part in honoring the life of Mike Enriquez."
The ComedySportz show on Thursday, September 20th will include friends and associates of Mike from other clubs around the city.
The courageous brother of an ensemble member will be remembered when ComedySportz supports The Sam Thompson Foundation from September 27 -28th.
Sam Thompson, brother of longtime ensemble member Zach Thompson passed away at age 31 on June 7, 2012 following a life-long and courageous battle with Cystic Fibrosis. Though doctors predicted he wouldn’t survive beyond age 16, with the help of a double lung transplant in 2002 he beat the odds until finally succumbing to stomach cancer this year. The Sam Thompson Foundation was established to help his family defray Sam’s extensive medical expenses and ComedySportz’s donation of $5.00 per full-priced single ticket will be contributed for that purpose.
“We couldn’t have run for 25 years in Chicago without the dedication of our players and the support of their families,” Elwell says. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to conclude our anniversary celebration by giving back to some of the people who have made it all possible.”
The ComedySportz Crew Visits More Than Just the Classics
By Tommy Dively
No one said these guys were not versatile. ComedySportz Chicago may thrive on their well-known ComedySportz home show but the theatre on West Belmont Avenue offers a variety of shows for all ages. The ComedySportz show is a family friendly show for sure, and the rest of the week features many late night shows for adults only, but Saturday mornings are the kids’ turn, providing them a brief escape into a fantasyland.
David Flora, ensemble member of ComedySportz Chicago, has been apart of The ComedySportz Crew Visits series from its start, adapting famous fantasy tales into hour-long shows meant to entertain as well as inspire kids on a weekly basis. With The Jungle Book winding down and Sleeping Beauty just getting underway, hear his thoughts on his experience thus far.
How has Jungle Book been thus far?
“It’s really fun. I think one of our favorite parts of it is taking the stories themselves and adapting them to fit a ComedySportz-type show and vice versa. So for Jungle Book the book itself by Rudyard Kipling is not at all like the Disney version that I think the people are used to, it’s actually pretty violent and it’s a conglomeration almost of different stories of the jungle. Like the story of Mowgli is just one story, there are a bunch of different stories that follow animals and things like that. What we tried to do was just focus on the story of Mowgli. So, we still follow the stories that people are familiar with, maybe through Disney or fairytales but we also incorporate a lot of that the kids can get up and do with us, a lot of participation type stuff, and a few silly jokes in there for us and the parents sometimes. Not a lot, but the parents seem to enjoy themselves. Making that happen in terms of adapting them is the really fun part of it.”
Compare the show’s structure to improv
“We have a script for every show. The good thing is once we learn the script we’re free to improvise from that if we really need to. Scripts follow a beginning, middle, and end but the kids sometimes participate when we don’t ask for it so we have to be ready to improvise then. We’re free to be flexible with the script once we learn it.”
Talking about Sleeping Beauty
“Mainly Annie [Rijks] is our writer for some of the shows and then once we get it on its feet we will workshop and see if some things need to be taken out. For this one, CJ Tour, who plays the villain Expensivo, is writing Sleeping Beauty is taking the story with more of a unique slant with Sleeping Beauty layered onto it opposed to the other way around. So in this one we have players who are at odds from the beginning because in real life one of them wasn’t invited to a party and that carries over to the story of Sleeping Beauty, where the evil fairy wasn’t invited to the birth of the kid. So, it runs parallel like that. We just have started rehearsing it, we did a table read last week, and we’re going to put it on its feet this week. In any of these processes we find new things and we find what doesn’t work as we go along in the process.”
How long is the writing and rehearsal process for each show?
“It takes us as long as it we need to read the story and then we will probably write two to three drafts of the story. Like I said, in the past, Annie writes it, I read it, then we talk about it and write another draft, then we present it and workshop it from there. It can take about a month to put it all together.”
The prop and costumes differ greatly per show?
“Immensely because for Alice in Wonderland we had a ton of stuff; we had a Mad Hatter scene, there’s a croquet scene where we had actual flamingo puppets and remote control cars for the hedgehogs. For Jungle Book it is very minimalist. We’ve got masks for the characters that are the animals and I think there’s maybe one torch at the end that Mowgli uses and that’s about all the props that we use. It depends on the show.”
How many shows have you been apart of now?
“I’ve been in it since it started with Snow White so that was 2010. It was the first of this series. I know they used to have a ComedySportz for kids of all improv games; they would get kids in here, get them on stage, and do improv games for kids. That happened years ago and I’m not sure how long ago they stopped doing that. They wanted to get kids back in here on Saturday mornings and so they came up with this concept of doing fairytales with a ComedySportz slant. I’ve done about 10 shows.”
How do the children audiences differ from the mostly adult audiences for ComedySportz shows?
“The one thing that is the biggest difference is that when adults interrupt things or shout things out, it’s kind of annoying and they are doing it because they want attention in shows, that’s what I have found at least. For kids shows, if the kids yell something out, they are really invested in it; they are not just being jerks, they are so invested in the story that you have to listen to them and incorporate what they say and go with the flow with that, and that is part of the fun with it. That is the biggest difference, and other than that it’s not much because we are just being silly and they love the silliness too. We don’t dumb it down for them; we are being more receptive to what they give us.”
Any things I should hear about the shows?
“There will be a dragon. That’ll be fun, I don’t know how but we’ll have a dragon in here. I don’t know if people are disappointed that they are not getting Disney versions of this stuff but they are definitely happy when they come out of here at what we do give them. We’re not just doing a story; we’re putting a story with it of our own. It’s a dual story that’s satisfying for kids and adults. And you can watch the Disney version anytime. I watched it online for free the other day. It will definitely be fun for them and give them some experience to get up and do stuff with us, and they will see something different with the story so I think that’s a good thing to highlight. It’s Sleeping Beauty but you’ll see some new things with it with the classic stuff. And we are excited about The Snow Queen next season.
“For the holiday season, November to January, we are going to do The Snow Queen. And then for next season we are doing Beauty and the Beast, Arabian Nights, Robin Hood, and The Nutcracker and Winnie the pooh: Return to Pooh Corner. They are topping out at nine or ten weeks. And we might do something different next season where we do a ComedySportz for kids show in between each run.”The whole group including Flora are continually excited about the prospect of showing kids original takes on these classic tales, many of which the children have either never heard of or have only seen the Disney version. It’s this originality that constantly draws new audiences, kids and parents alike, back again and again and again. So do not miss out on a very fun adaptation of The Jungle Book and be sure to catch the dragon and more in the upcoming Sleeping Beauty right here at ComedySportz Chicago.
CSz 2012 World Championship: A Final Glance Back
By Tommy Dively
The smoke has cleared, the dust has settled, the confetti has been swept away, the matches have been played and the workshops taught, and now we are left only with the memories of an incredible weeklong experience. The 2012 ComedySportz World Championship is finally over, leaving Chicago as the new world champions over Los Angeles. Chicago may have won the trophy, but all 21 participating ComedySportz clubs that came out this year took home something that will stay with them for a while. It was a week of great matches, edifying workshops, and most importantly, a chance for friends new and old to celebrate the theater that brought them all together in the first place.
ComedySportz draws many different people to its ranks and that variety was showcased during the week of tournament. Alli Soowal of ComedySportz Philadelphia said she started with ComedySportz just as a way to fill her leisure hours. After spending too many hours “being bored on the couch with nothing to do, so I took classes at ComedySportz and joined in 2007. And now I’m the managing director of Philly.” Darryl Fishwick of ComedySportzUK in Manchester, England had a similar experience, joining the ensemble just from sheer enjoyment of the brand and what it could offer: “I turned up and loved every minute of the show and when I was picked as an audience volunteer in “Sound Effects” I was hooked. At the time ComedySportz UK was running out of a Youth Theatre, meaning it only had a young troupe. I am now about to enter my 10th year of being a ComedySportz UK player and I am one of the longest serving members of CSzUK.”
Hosting duties fell to Chicago this year for the championship week. This is an immense honor for the city, as the last time Chicago hosted was back in 2001. And the city did not disappoint, making it a big event to say the least. “I think the biggest way it was different to my previous tournaments was the sheer scale of it all,” Fishwick says. “The sheer number of improvisers who attended from ComedySportz was the most I had ever seen, and the Athenaeum was the largest venue I’d ever performed in. It was the first time I had ever needed a microphone or to be sound checked for an Improv show, but it all added to the spectacle.” And spectacle it was, as the Athenaeum held up to 500 patrons on the main floor alone as opposed to the 149 capacity of the ComedySportz Chicago Theatre on Belmont.
The championship week was a great opportunity not only for the younger members to workshop and meet their fellow improvisers but also for the tried-and-true veterans of ComedySportz to catch up with old friends and do what they do best: improvise. Patrick Short of ComedySportz Oregon said, “I had more fun playing this time than usual. Partly because of ‘Ref Trainwreck.’ He had bits but reffed the show really well. We let him do his stuff and he let us do our thing in the games. The second half went more off the rails when Chicago played, becoming an actual train wreck,” Short laughs.
The week hit its grand finale Saturday night not only with the long awaited championship match between Chicago and Los Angeles, which Chicago won, but it also featured the humbling All-Star match. It is a great sign of the many players’ respect for one another, as Fishwick attested to, saying, “It was so much fun to be on stage with those guys and gals, players that you yourself have looked up to and wanted to be like and suddenly you are on stage with them.” Soowal, who along with Fishwick was chosen for the All-Star team in a vote by the 200-plus players in attendance, was also very humbled. “Being voted into the All-Star match for the first time was amazing. It was so much fun, just to be silly with the Brits. Being voted by my peers though was a huge honor.” And it was a well-deserved one for all eight players who were voted onto the team.
All in all, it was another championship week of great matches, fascinating workshops and discussions, and a warm and happy celebration of an art form that takes center stage here in Chicago: comedy. And through short form improv with 21 different ComedySportz teams, comedy put on one heck of a show.