Celebrity Punishment

28 March 2015. Richmond, VA

I stepped out into center stage, or as we call it, the middle of the playing field. The stage lights shined brightly in my face. The loyal fans eagerly awaited what I had to say.

I was performing in a ComedySportz match, playing one of my favorite types of games, with some of my favorite people.

The people were fellow managers of other CSz Teams from around the country. ComedySportz is produced by CSz Worldwide and can be found in 25 different cities in the United States and in the UK and in Germany.

The show is improv comedy played as a sport, where 2 teams go back and forth in game-based improv, where the fans help decide on a winning team. More so than any show that I’ve ever been a part of, ComedySportz is about celebrating the fans who come to see the show, making them the starts of the night as opposed to the performers on stage.

We were all in Richmond, VA for a Shareholders’ Meeting, where all of the managers from the individual cities get together once a year and talk about business strategies, city updates, and general tomfoolery. For the past few years, I had been taking an increased role in those meetings helping the lead branding committee and serve on the executive council.

This was a bittersweet meeting in Richmond because I was stepping away from a lot of those duties as part of this nomad adventure that I was going on.

Back on stage, the show continued on. Thus far it had been a blast, not a surprise when you’re playing with incredibly talented improvisers, many of whom have more than 20 years of improv experience.

The game I so loved was called Celebrity Punishment, a jump-out style game that includes making puns based off of celebrity names, much like Garth from Wayne’s World (“If she were a president, she would be Baberham Lincoln”). Like all ComedySportz games, Celebrity Punishment starts by getting a suggestion from the audience, for this game, the name of a celebrity.

I was stepping out to make a pun based off of the suggestion of Bruce Willis. I took a breath and then shared, “If Bruce Willis was a mediator, he’d be Truce Willis.” The audience mostly laughed.

I stepped back, while my fellow managers and players stepped in sharing their own jokes on Bruce.

I couldn’t help but marvel at the fun that ComedySportz is; it’s one of the funnest shows I’ve ever done and I’ve had the privilege of doing it since I joined CSz New York in 2008.

It’s also given me a ton of opportunity within the corporate world. I’ve helped lead a number of workshops at a number of different organizations in applied improvisation. Much of what I’ve learned in training and performance can be attributed to the people on the stage with me.

I bring my focus back to the match just as the suggestion changes. It’s now Britney Spears. A few managers share their lines before I step out and say, “if Britney Spears were more advanced she would be Britney Bow and Arrow.”

The audience groans in delight at the terrible joke. Admittedly, I take delight in a groan as much as a laugh. The suggestion changes to JFK.

I step forward, “If JFK had come a little bit later, he’d be GES.”

I’m definitely going to miss this.

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drew tarvin

Andrew Tarvin is the world’s first Humor Engineer teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He has worked with thousands of people at 250+ organizations, including P&G, GE, and Microsoft. He is a best-selling author, has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and TEDx, and has delivered programs in 50 states, 20+ countries, and 6 continents. He loves the color orange and is obsessed with chocolate.

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