25 years of laughs: Improvisational comedy group celebrating anniversary


INDIANAPOLIS — For those big on anniversaries, ComedySportz at 721 Massachusetts Ave., celebrates its 25th year of improvisational comedy and impromptu laughter with a bevy of special events. Visit indycomedysportz.com for more information and know these five things before you go:

ComedySportz greatest hits

To celebrate the anniversary, ComedySportz offers a series of “greatest hits” performances during February, drawing from a selection of audience favorites from the last 25 years. Friday night’s show is “A Christmas Carol: Unscripted — the Valentine’s Edition;” “The Experiment” plays Feb. 16, followed by “The Blue Show” on Feb. 17; Feb. 23 and 24 will see the return on “Amuse-ical: An Improvised Musical.” These and more can be found on the website at indycomedysportz.com.

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Longest running laugh

ComedySportz at 25 years makes it the longest continuously running comedy show in Indianapolis. With at least two performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, that totals more than 7,800 performances in the last quarter of a century. That puts ComedySportz Indianapolis as No. 4 on the all-time performance list right between the Broadway productions of “The Lion King” and “Cats.”

Hancock County roots

Ed Trout, a graduate of New Palestine High School, is a founding member, current CEO and artistic director at ComedySportz, ably assisted by a staff that includes 2009 Greenfield-Central High School graduate and director of fan services, Frankie Bolda. Both Trout and Bolda return to their Hancock County roots every year to lead ComedySportz high school league teams at area high schools.

Comedy as sport

A ComedySportz performance models itself after a sporting event. Two teams of improvisational actors participate in matches — a series of improvisational activities — where each team tries to out-funny the other with creative situations and witty dialogue. The players from each team are introduced with clever nicknames (such as Frankie “My Dear, I Don’t Give A” Bolda or Ed “Over the Rainbow” Trout) at the beginning of the match and run onto the stage much as an athlete runs onto the field.

A “referee” takes cues from the audience for source material, awards points and assesses fouls (the groaner foul, when a player makes particularly bad joke, and the brown bag foul, in which a player crosses the line and has to wear a brown bag on his head for the remainder of the match). A match is divided into two halves, after which, the winning team accepts a trophy and celebrates big league style in slow motion.

Hands-on humor

ComedySportz players train just like any other athlete in weekly sessions. They work on specific skills — such as improvising Shakespeare or how to work with audience input — because ComedySportz is audience-interactive. For nearly every game, members of the audience offer suggestions such as: the name of a celebrity you wouldn’t mind being stuck in an elevator with, a place you never want visit again, something you would save from a fire or a gift you’ve always wanted but never received. These suggestions often set the time, place or situation for the game or skit about to take place.

Humor for all

In spite of the crazy, edgy, off-the-cuff turns that a ComedySportz match can take, the team prides itself on being family-friendly. Most of the time. Attend a ComedySportz match any evening, and you’ll likely see children and teens in the audience. But after 10 p.m., it’s adults only.

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ComedySportz, Indianapolis

721 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis

Performances Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Visit indycomedysportz.com for show times and ticket information