(Erica Louise Lynn, Orig. Ferndale Friends, Nov. 13, 2013)
Remember the Rocky Horror Show cult favorite in the last century? Well, a new fave is here — Comedysportz®! It is located in the Michigan Actors Studio complex on 648 E. 9Mile Road (just west of the railroad tracks and Hilton Road) in Ferndale.
The Michigan venture called Comedysportz®-Detroit is run by Rich Goteri (producer/artistic director) and Rachel Bellack (managing director). Different terminology is used in Comedysportz®. The unit is called a “city”; the cast members, “players”; the place is called an “arena”; and the total of all the games, a “match”.
Before each match, the national anthem of each country being represented is played; then the games begin. A referee (the opening match was headed by Jeff Fritz, actor/comic) gets the game started.
A special press night took place on Friday, September 20, 2013. The first general-audience night took place the following evening with a packed crowd. There is ample FREE parking in they rear of the complex.
The idea of Comedysportz® is to have two three-player teams (one team dressed in blue jerseys, the other, in red) doing improv with a uniformed referee. (The first red team featured Jessie Kunnath, a Ferndale resident.) The competition has two halves, separated by a 10-to-15-minute intermission. There are two major fouls. The funniest of these is “awarded” by placing a brown paper bag over the head of the violator. (Janet Whitmer of Fraser, a Macomb County realtor, was the recipient of a double foul.) The bag stays on until that game is finished. (Janet has been nicknamed “Ms. Potty Mouth”.)
There is plenty of time during the intermission to hit the concession stand. Available for purchase are freshly-popped popcorn, 20 varieties of candy bars, Coke products (regular and diet), and bottled water. Any of these items is just $1.00 each. A night out for a family of four (two adults, two youths) purchasing four containers of popcorn, four candy bars, and four soft drinks, plus the price of admission) would cost only $62.00. What a deal!
Members of the audience are given glow sticks which are red and blue. In awarding points for each game, the referee asks the audience for their choice. Audience members vote by holding up either the red end or the blue end of their glow sticks. (The glow sticks are fondly called the “Lights of Justice”.)
Two volunteers from the audience are chosen to enter the stage; each volunteer helps one of the two sides during one of the games. Comedysportz® is a very audience-interactive event!
During the “match”, on a catwalk overlooking the audience and stage is a disembodied entity, “The Voice”. This entity also has a microphone and music deck which employs JANIS software (developed by the Portland, Oregon Comedysportz® team). With this equipment, “The Voice” can come up almost immediately with music corresponding with words spoken as part of the game.
Comedysportz® Detroit has a 32-player roster, chosen from over 200 contenders during auditions over this past summer. Comedysportz® started in 1984 and has grown by leaps and bounds since. There are Comedysportz® locations in 21 U.S. Cities, plus Manchester, UK and Berlin, Germany.
The shows at Comedysportz® Detroit are for all ages. Admission for adults is $15.00 each; for youth aged 16 and under, $10.00. Showtimes are 7:30 PM on Fridays; and on Saturdays, 7:30 P.M and 10:00 PM.
Comedysportz® is the most unique and fun improv event I’ve ever witnessed. See for yourself — call 248-721-8014 for reservations.