Chatard ComedySportz Team Helps Students Adapt to Any Situation
Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Bishop Chatard High School’s ComedySportz team has provided several of the school’s students a chance to think fast on their feet, and to get laughs in the process.
ComedySportz is composed of teams of high school improvisational performers from schools in the greater Indianapolis area. The students train as individual teams, as well as together with other participating school teams.
They are affiliated with ComedySportz Indianapolis, the only professional comedy theatre in Indianapolis.
After training and tryouts through the fall semester, ComedySportz matches begin in the spring semester. There are also comedy shows during the school year.
“I’ve been coaching the ComedySportz team for the last 12 years,” Mayer said before a recent rehearsal. “I have worked with a lot of great kids who are very dedicated.”
The Chatard ComedySportz team practices during lunch, after school, and weekends, and team members determine what works and what doesn’t.
“They will tell me if something I suggest isn’t right,” Mayer said. “We were originally going to do a spoof of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ for the Christmas performance, but the kids decided ‘The Polar Express’ would work better. They work with a lot of movie quotes and song lyrics in their shows.”
They also take requests from the audience.
“ComedySportz is a very popular class,” Mayer noted. “We have 15 matches a year. We usually get about 70 people in the Improv theater, but we have had as many as 250 to 300 people show up during special nights, and we have had to move to the main theater.”
Mayer stressed that the kids have embraced the rules of Improv.
“They take being funny very seriously,” Mayer said. “Improv will help them in any field they go into. It will help them with interviews and presentations. It’s being able to adapt to any situation quickly. In Improv, they have also found that when something is real, it’s funnier.”
Mayer stressed that when someone is trying to be funny or melodramatic, there is no real emotion.
“When someone is asked spontaneously to fake a foreign accent, they struggle with it. It’s funnier if the accent doesn’t really work, and they are struggling with it. The hard part is for people first beginning Improv to get past their inhibitions.”
The team works well together in rehearsals. They listen to each other and discover what their strengths are.
Bishop Chatard junior Alan Schneider said he enjoys the lack of structure that Improv provides.
“We have a lot of responsibility to make it work, but we also have freedom to make mistakes and go with something that is spontaneous and really becomes funny,” he said. “I really loved watching the Improv television series ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ I especially enjoyed it when Robin Williams was on. I love how Improv is instant and can be something great out of nothing.”
Grayson Cates, a junior, says the group he works with keeps him laughing all the time.
“There is a lot of team work, and we look for constructive ways to improve the other person’s performance,” Cates said.
Junior Victoria Nichols said she loves the collaboration, and how close the group has become.
“I love how diverse our ideas are, and how we each come up with something new,” she said.
Senior Elizabeth Siler loves the singing involved and how ComedySportz will take a story everyone knows, such as “The Polar Express,” and put a new spin on it.
“There is a high level of audience participation as well,” Siler said. “The audience gives us the instant song titles, movie quotes and situations they want to see us act out instantly. I love the way the audience is invested in it.”