Drive out to the corner of Main St. and Harlem Rd. in Amherst, and you’ll have a tough time spotting ComedySportz. Tucked underground in the unassuming Snyder Square lies a booty of treasure buried beneath a boring brick façade. It’s almost comical how such an unexceptional exterior can contain such a wealth of talent and entertainment. Yet it does, and Western New York is lucky to have it here at home.
Not that ComedySportz Buffalo is some kind of hidden gem. In fact, they’ve been a part of our community for over twenty years, covered extensively by the local media, and are the 2013 ComedySportz World Champions; a title they will be defending this year in Milwaukee.
Nevertheless, this was our first time there, and the experience deserves a thorough review.
Walking in, the intimacy of the room is immediately noticeable. The theatre style arena holds about eighty people, and a good word of advice is to purchase tickets online. About half of the seats were already reserved when we arrived thirty minutes before the first show. If you are looking for an affordable night out, look no further. Adults get through the door for a mere ten dollars, children for five.
An energy of anticipation seems to float about the room. You can feel the mixture of young and old, couples on dates and families out for an evening of amusement. There’s a sense that a good number of these customers are here for the second or third time. To be sure no one feels left out, President and referee Dale Fischer walks around the room loosening up first-timers and making everyone comfortable.
Without hesitation, the lights are out and the fun begins. ComedySportz is improv comedy, meaning that, everything is made up in the moment. Two teams of three compete against each other in various games, and the audience is asked for suggestions before each scene. You immediately think of Whose Line Is It?, but this is better. It’s live, it’s spontaneous, and it’s more exciting than sitting on the couch.
Most of all, and this is the important part — it’s uproariously hysterical. That’s not hyperbole, that’s simply the best way to describe ComedySportz. On our night out, team captains John Kehoe and Jodi Cook led the Blue Cheezes and the Red Hot Wingz down a trail of constant laughter. The supporting cast of Julie Silverstein, Danette Pawlowski, Dan Czuba and Rich Hy upheld their end of the bargain, and the jokes never missed their mark. It was clear we weren’t watching amateurs, these guys and gals are the authorities of instant delivery.
Still, there is another element to ComedySportz that ties it all together. Production is integral to the performance. Music, lights, and two flat screen televisions are mastered behind the scenes to keep the people pumped and entertained. The audience, labeled for the evening as, “the loyal fanz,” is consistently being poked and prodded into participation. This is what makes ComedySportz unique, and this is what sets it apart from stand-up.
When you go, don’t hold back, and be sure to immerse yourself in the event. Buy a glow stick at the door for $2, and use it throughout the performance to vote for your favorite team. Shout out suggestions and make some noise. We noticed that no idea from “the loyal fanz” was too ridiculous or even too ordinary.
The best laughs came during the games Text Line and Marshmallow. In Text Line, a couple of audience members voluntarily give up their phones, and cast members are only allowed to act out the scene using the lines from text messages. A quick review of your phone will give you an idea of how this can play out in front of a group of strangers.
Marshmallow is a game where a marshmallow is given to a performer every time they produce legitimate laughter from the audience. They must then continue the sketch with as many marshmallows as they can hold in their mouths without swallowing. Sadly, a number of marshmallows were harmed during the skit, but sacrifices need to be made in the name of comedy.
Though many try, few events can actually label themselves as fun for all ages. ComedySportz can mark themselves in the category of the few. While still managing to be insanely hilarious without the aid of alcohol, the performance also steered clear of vulgarity and crude humor*. Everything was done in good taste, great fun, and pure comicality.
As the sign tells you on the way in, “The points do matter,” and this just adds to the excitement. Before intermission the Red Hot Wingz were down 11-7, but rallied back with the help of some quick wit and enthusiastic voting from the audience. The final score on the screen read the Red Hot Wingz-23, the Blue Cheezes-20.
Although the clear winner of our evening at ComedySportz: The Loyal Fanz.
* Should you be looking for that edge, ComedySportz has a new show starting in June to satisfy those of us wanting a night out without the kids. Seven Minutes in Heaven is an 18 and over show that will run on weeks opposite of Chillin’, another adults only performance. Click here for details.
4476 Main St. Amherst , NY 14226 | (716) 393-8669 | TICKETS
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