• Val Agnew

Celebrating the Lemonade Makers

This year has been hard. I guess maybe Jeff Bezos would argue with me, but for almost everyone else this year has been incredibly difficult for an impossibly long list of reasons. Despite that, there have been so many stories of people making the most of this crap year. Each one brings tears of joy to my eyes. There is something so beautiful about people finding light in darkness.


An example I've gotten to witness up close has been the creativity with which live performers have adapted to having no stages or live crowds. There have been all kinds of cool digital stand up shows, outdoor concerts, radio plays and any number of other adaptations. The one I've become most familiar with is improv. For the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on one organization that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of because I think they are a great example of ingenuity in the face of adversity: ComedySportz Chicago



They Said "Yes...And"

Improv is all about being agreeable, adaptable, and building together. When everything shut down in March and improv as we knew it was cryogenically frozen for an indeterminate amount of time, CSz almost immediately moved shows online. They knew that they may not survive otherwise, but also they knew that at least some of the people involved with the theater wanted to continue performing. They took the desire to keep performing and built from there.


They Stayed in the Here and Now

Many improvisers are just waiting for live performance to return. They don't have interest in doing shows online. I have absolutely no judgment for people who can't or don't want to perform during this time. It is a horrible, creativity-zapping world we're living in and however anyone deals with it as totally ok.


But, I applaud CSz in choosing to accept the current circumstances and make the most of them. They have created a Twitch channel with its own fan-base that they will be able to maintain and grow even after we can be in theaters again.


They Play at the Top of Their Intelligence

It would be easy to say "there are limitations to doing improv online so we can't expect it to be good" and just accept subpar performance. But ComedySportz chose to say "how can we make the experience in this medium the best it can possibly be for the fans?" New games are constantly being invented to suit the online format. Strategies are honed to create better execution of things like fluid conversation and clear physicality within the online format. The visual presentation is top-notch. I am always proud to invite people to watch our shows.


They Have Fun

At the end of the day, improv is basically a bunch of adults playing pretend. It is meant to be fun. And I can say I have been having A LOT of fun (see my previous post about this). The fans have been having fun too. So much so that they made a fan group where they can share their love of ComedySportz Twitch beyond the chat during shows.



There are so many amazing examples from this year of people being adaptable in the face of adversity. This is just one that I'm intimately familiar with. But I am constantly impressed by ComedySportz's ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of the endless challenges this year has presented. They have truly made lemonade out of epic lemons. And I'm proud to call myself a part of their community.


If you want to see what I'm talking about for yourself, they are actually doing a New Years Eve marathon all day tomorrow. You can watch some new show concepts and the traditional format shows throughout the day (full schedule). If you're looking for a way to safely ring in the new year, celebrating and supporting this group could be a fun one.

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