Meet Your February Player of the Month

Jim Ansaldo has got to be one of the most giving people we’ve known, ever: with his time, his humor and his talents. We wanted to share how special Jim is with our Loyal Fanz, because we’re here to share the love, people. 

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Jim plays guitar in Count Rockula! a CSz band.

CSz: Hiya, Jim, thanks for sitting down with me today! So, let me ask you, do you have any favorite ComedySportz Games?

JA: Musical games, Try That On For Size, and Pick a _____.

CSz: Why did you decide to try-out and then join ComedySportz?

JA: I joined in May 2013. I had been away from improv performance for too long, and I wanted to have fun again!

CSz: So, what is your day job?

JA: I facilitate teacher professional learning and school change as part of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University.

CSz: That’s sound impressive and really good on a resume! I know that because of your teaching job, you also do extra things on top of that. So, are there any projects coming up you’d like to brag about?

JA: Yep! Camp Yes And! (yesand.indiana.edu)

CSz: We love Camp Yes And! Readers, check out the website and see amazing things Jim is doing by using improv as a way to support autistic teens. It even helps teachers to develop social communication skills which can transform teaching and learning. So, Jim, what has been ComedySportz’ impact on you personally?

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Jim and Mookie at a CSz Wedding.

JA: I wanted to get back into performing. The impact has been huge. I’m healthier and happier. I’ve met dear friends who are family to me. I have creative partners who support my crazy ideas.

CSz: And you are family to us, Jim. Since we’re on a bit of a retrospective plane, can you tell us a few of your favorite CSz Indy memories?

JA: My favorite moments are those times in matches when both teams have been so thoroughly entertaining that the audience literally groans at the thought of having to judge the scenes and award games. There aren’t many environments that are both competitive and fully supportive.

CSz: That’s really true. It’s an amazing moment when everyone on that field is so talented and the audience can barely decide who is the ‘best’. 

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Behind the scenes at a Match: with Indy Players Bill Hale, Courtney McClure Murray, Joe Ottaviano, Andy Wegg, Patrick McDaniel and DJ Murray.

Now for the rapid-fire portion of our interview!

What was your favorite subject in school: English

What is the best compliment you ever received: When Jim says he’s going to do something, he does it.

What is your perfect pizza? The one in my mouth hole.

 

 

What is your favorite band/musician? Count Rockula! 

What is your zodiac sign? Scorpio

What do you think is your biggest talent? Recognizing quality and supporting it.

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We hang out: CSz Indy Players Claire Wilcher, Mia Lee Roberts, Ashley Hamman and Jim Ansaldo.

Your Dream Vacation: Anywhere that is comfortable and completely decision-free.

Sweet tooth or savory tooth? Yes and……?

What’s your biggest life change? I’ve lost 100 pounds in the past year. Oh, and parenting. I probably should have said that first. But seriously, 100 pounds.

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Have I ever not?

 

CSz: That was amazing. I hope the Loyal Fanz can see how quickly and brilliantly off-the-cuff you answered these questions. Last, but certainly never least, are there any upcoming plans/shows that fans should know about so they can come and see you?

JA: Harrison! The improvised hip-hop musical retelling the story of Indiana’s rise from backwater territory to boondock state. Saturdays at 10 PM in February at CSz Indianapolis! And, in April there are two improv shows to raise funds for Camp Yes And! Everyone needs to attend them – it’s going to be amazing.

CSz: Thank you, Jim. You are important to us. We love you. Make sure to get tickets soon to this month’s upcoming performance of Harrison! here on our website.

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The cast of Harrison! at the 2016 IndyFringe Festival.

Your November CSz Person of the Month!

Please welcome one of our newest members at CSz Indianapolis –  Jessica Kenworthy! Jessica has been around improv for a long time; she’s pretty awesome, has good hair, works as a ‘bean counter’ at her grown-up job, handles being a mom of twin girls, Ava and Grace, and older brother, Nolan…. and works really hard as a new co-owner here at CSz Indy. Phew! We are proud to have her on board and for being such a support to all our players.

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CSz: Why and when did you join ComedySportz?

J:  My husband, Todd, has been a player with ComedySportz Indy for 10 years.  While I’ve been welcomed as part of the CSz “family” for that long as well, I didn’t officially join until I became a part owner this past July.

CSz: What is your job at CSz?

J: I’m responsible for the numbers – accounting, budgeting and paying the bills! (Thank you for our paychecks and keeping the lights on, Jessica!) 

I actually got involved in ComedySportz because I thought my husband, Todd, needed more improv in his life.  I signed him up for the level 2 workshop in early 2005 without telling him… and told him the week-of that he needed to show up for the class.  He had taken several workshops at Second City in Chicago in the prior years and really enjoyed it.  I wanted to find something in Indy that would give him that creative outlet, and that led me to ComedySportz!  CSz has been part of our lives ever since.  It’s really become an extended family of sorts; everyone provides love and support to everyone involved.

CSz: What do you think is your biggest talent?

J: Making some mean frozen dinosaur chicken nuggets and oven fries.

CSz: Your best childhood memory?

J: I spent nearly every summer at  CYO Camp in Brown County (Indiana).  It was my happy place.  Now my kids are carrying on the tradition.  jess02

CSz: What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?

J: I have a scar on the top of my left hand from an unfortunate run in with a slide at King’s Island when I was 4.

CSz: Sweet tooth or savory tooth? I can never decide, personally.

J: Both! My husband’s nickname for me is Snacks because of my love of ALL the foods.

CSz: What did you want to be when you were little?

J: I wanted to be Bette Midler.  Really.  I wanted to be a singer and an actress.  Thankfully, my parents helped me realize that I had zero talent in either area and convinced me to focus on a vocation in which I would stand a chance of finding employment.

CSz: Oh, that’s kinda sad! To lighten the mood, what is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

J: Do-si-dos…frozen.

CSz: Excellent choice! So, where do you want to travel but have never been?jess03

J: There are too many to list, but I love to combine travel with hobbies. I’d love to do a marathon on every continent.  There’s a marathon where you run the Great Wall of China that would be really cool.

CSz: Do you have any projects coming up you’d like to brag about?

J: No, unless hanging pictures in my house counts.

CSz: I would come to watch that! Hey, Snacks, thanks……we are glad to have you here at CSz and look forward to some great years together! Can I have some of your energy?

We’re one of 100+ Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis!

You like us!  You really, really like us right now!

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Thanks for choosing ComedySportz Indianapolis as one of 100+ Fun Things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana!
(Aren’t Joe Ottaviano, Erin Mahr (of CSz Quad Cities), and Bill Wilkison adorable?)

Check out what other cool, fun things are available in Indianapolis, and call to book your tickets for a professional ComedySportz Match any Thursday, Friday, or Saturday at 7:30pm or Saturday at 10pm by following the link HERE or calling our hotline at 317-951-8499.

Meet Your October Player of the Month

You should get to know Rick Randjelovic. After you learn how to pronounce his last name (sounds like it looks), you start to look deeper into this man. This…mystery. This….new owner. This….tall-ish person. Who has taken over part of the reins of CSz Indianapolis, you have always wondered (since July). Today, we reveal to you, our Loyal Fans, everything important and deeply rooted that makes Rick…. Rick.

We asked the questions you’ve always dreamed of knowing….and he has exclusively opened up to CSz:

CSz: Hi, Rick. You have to have a favorite ComedySportz game since you’ve been with us since 2002 when you first took our workshops. Could you share with your fans?

Rick: My favorite, “Who Dat?”

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Rick judges fellow CSz Indy player, Erik Lundorf, and his artwork.

CSz: Thanks, Rick. So, why did you decide to join ComedySportz and what’s been its impact on you?

Rick: I was sitting in my apartment, and I looked online for something to do in Indy.  I found classes at CSz and I’ve been hooked ever since.  As for impact, I feel that improv is part of my identity as a person.  There is a closeness that comes from being around people regularly.  When you amplify the effect of proximity with the amount of risk taking that we do as part of our craft, incredibly strong bonds are formed.  We are serious when we say that CSz Indianapolis is a big family.  Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to teach classes and workshops at CSz.  It’s very rewarding to see former students growing into skilled performers on a weekly basis.

CSz: Thanks, Rick. I think you’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head with what CSz is and how it really does change people. We are a family, not a cult. Now, let’s run through a rapid fire list of Tiger Beat questions to learn all your little nuances…

What was your favorite subject in school:

Probably science stuff or band.

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Reffing a match.

What is the best compliment you ever received:

“You’re taller than I thought”.

What is your perfect pizza?

Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza.

What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning:

I wonder how reservations look for this week.  Did we get any seats sold in the middle of the night?  Who would buy seats at 3:00 in the morning?

What is your favorite animal:

I.LOVE.BEARS.  I really do; they fascinate me.  I could sit at a zoo at watch the bears all day.  I kind of feel like bears are kind of like a giant form of raccoon.  They tend to scavenge for food, live in the woods, are attracted to garbage, etc.  But, you know, they can kill you.  Nobody is going to ever die from being attacked by a raccoon.  Now that I think of it, maybe I just don’t like raccoons more than I love bears.

What is your favorite band/musician?

The jukebox at Dorman Street is my favorite band.

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The 2016 Championship Dream Team: Rick, JCo, Todd and Claire. Championship Winners. Improv is serious.

What is your favorite book?

Veeck as in Wreck.  Bill Veeck is a role model for me and his book is fantastic.  He was revolutionary as the owner of many major league sports teams.  Veeck was a showman and a promoter who never lost the joy of being a fan.

Where is your favorite restaurant?

Indianapolis

What is your zodiac sign?

The deer

What is your favorite movie?

Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What do you think is your biggest talent?

I’m real good at taking stuff apart; I’m awful at putting things back together.  There is probably a metaphor for my life in there somewhere, but whatever.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Nancy Kerrigan; Alex Morgan; Rachel Dratch; Jennifer Aniston from 1997; Rashida Jones; Ginger from Gilligan’s Island; Kathy Ireland;  Audrey Hepburn; Sunni the Gummi Bear; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge;  Anna Kendrick; The 2014 Canadian Women’s Curling Team; Elizabeth Banks; The Robot Girl from Small Wonder; Jennifer Aniston from 2016; Suzy Kolber.

Your Dream Vacation:

A 700 mile hiking trail through the mountains where you stay at craft beer breweries each night.

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A world traveler. Mount St. Helens. And Rick.

What inspires you?

Mastering a skill to a point where it becomes an art instead of a process.

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

Jamblith Argoman

Your best childhood memory:

Summers on a lake in the U.P.  One time, my dad’s dog pushed me into the water.  Family lore says that I slipped on a rock and fell in, but I tell you that dog shoved me.

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CSz 2016 Championship means a Crossfit outing for visiting players worldwide (L to R with Rick: Melissa Topscher – CSz Seattle, Danette Powlowski – CSz Buffalo, Rachel Garmon – CSz Richmond)

If you won the lottery……

I’d live like a rich hobo. I’d ride the rails like a normal hobo, but my handkerchief trundle would be made of silk.

What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?

I got in a fight with a fireplace when I was two and have a scar above my eye.

 

 

 

What did you want to be when you were little?

A fighter pilot.  Specifically I wanted to fly an A-10 Thunderbolt II

You must adopt a baby fox or a baby koala: choose!

Koala!  Fox meat is too gamey for my taste.

Favorite mythological creature:

The Manwich

Your favorite song lyric:

“If dreams were lightning, and thunder were desire, this old house would have burned down a long time ago”.

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie:

The coconut ones.

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Rick loves Indianapolis. And Boomer.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Dreamy 1980s Harrison Ford.

Where you want to travel but have never been:

Asia

Finally, anything you’d like to share about yourself?

The ownership of CSz Indianapolis has their own unique strengths that they bring this this business. For example, Ed has his creative abilities, Jessica and Todd both have financial backgrounds, and I am tall.

CSz: Tall-ISH, Rick, tall-ish.

 

Meet Your August Player of the Month

Our celebrated Player of the Month this time around is Todd Kenworthy. Todd has been with ComedySportz for around 9 years and is now one of our new co-owners. He has been married for almost 12 years to Jessica (our other new co-owner!) and he has 3 kids, Nolan 8, and 4 year old twins Ava and Grace. Todd was also on our final Championship team this past June and helped lead Indianapolis to win the 2016 ComedySportz World Championship: Loyal Fans will recall his brilliant Gippepe singing Gippepe No Drive A Car and doing a scarily-accurate imitation of a primate. We are excited about having Todd steer this big family in new directions and asked him a few questions so that our Loyal Fans could get to know him a little better!

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Todd’s favorite improv games are Five Things, Forward/Reverse and Back to Whenever. He is also an excellent interpretive dancer.

We asked Todd why he got involved in ComedySportz and it’s impact… ” I started taking improv classes right after I graduated college in 2002.  My girlfriend, who is now my wife, lived in Chicago and I took classes at Second City as a way to get over my fear of public speaking.  After a couple of levels of classes, I was hooked.  I completed their introductory program and after a couple of years off my wife signed me up for classes at ComedySportz Indianapolis.  I took the classes and from there I was asked to start attending practices after an invite from Ed (Trout, co-owner).  This has been such a positive impact on my life.  The gift of improv can be applied to all areas of my life, from husband, father, and in my work life.  The people I have met at ComedySportz have become my second family.

Why and when did you join ComedySportz?  I joined ComedySportz in 2007 after my wife, Jessica, bought me Improv training classes for a Christmas present in 2006.

 

What is your day job, Todd?  I am a Commercial Relationship Manager, VP at Old National Bank. todd03

Do you have any projects coming up you’d like to brag about?  Yes, as a new owner, I encourage all to come out and see all of our upcoming matches.  Each one is different than the last and its fun for all.  Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled for Three Dollar Bill Comedy announcements for upcoming shows and projects.  I have written and performed with them for over 5 years.  Lastly, I am performing with Defiance Comedy during the Fringe Festival in Haul and Oatz, Time Traveling PIs. More Fringe Info HERE.

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TODD TIDBITS:

What was your favorite subject in school:  I always like Math, maybe that is why I became a banker

What is your perfect pizza? Sausage, Pepperoni, Black Olives and Mushrooms.

What is your favorite band/musician? AC/DC, It’s a long way to the top….

What is your favorite book? I am a sucker for the Harry Potter Series.

 What is your zodiac sign?  Pisces

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?  Bruce Portsmouth

What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?   I have a scar above my left eye in the shape of a triangle.  I got hit in the face with a soap dispenser.  For the record, the soap dispenser attacked me.

Sweet tooth or savory tooth? Sweet Tooth like a boss

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CSz Indianapolis Has Changed Ownership after 23 Years

The times, they are a changin’.
We at CSz Indianapolis-Home of ComedySportz are thrilled to report a change in ownership of our little improv family.

Read the official press release below for details:

2016 New Ownership

Thank you, Lynn and Mia, for all your years of dedication and hard work!
(Don’t worry, Loyal Fans; they’re still players at CSz Indy.  We aren’t letting the off THAT easily.)

Congratulations to Todd, Jessica, and Rick!  We can hardly wait to see what the future has in store with you at the helm.

And Ed……good luck!

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CSz INDIANAPOLIS TAKES 2016 COMEDYSPORTZ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

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CSz Indianapolis wins the 2016 ComedySportz World Championship. (Photo credit: Braínne Edge)

 

Once a year, teams from 25 ComedySportz cities travel to one location to compete at the ComedySportz World Championship. This year, Indianapolis hosted over 270 ComedySportz players from around the globe. Players gathered to learn together and compete against each other. Indianapolis dominated on their home turf in public matches and won the trophy for 2016. Indianapolis also had an amazing effort from their players to create a successful week for its visitors.

“The folks at CSz Indianapolis were such gracious hosts for all of us players from other cities. They took such good care of us, and showed us everything that is great about Indy hospitality,” said Brian Tabak, Team Manager of ComedySportz Buffalo.

CSz Quad Cities Team Manager, Patrick Adamson stated, “From the front desk of the hotel, to the barista at the coffee shop, to CSz Indianapolis, we were made to feel welcomed. Our comedians enjoyed themselves as so did our families that spend time at the zoo, The Children’s Museum, and shopping. We look forward to next time!”

ComedySportz founder, Dick Chudnow, expressed, “Indy is a perfect place to hold a convention for really nice people in a really nice, welcoming city. I wish city planners from my home city of Milwaukee would go to Indianapolis and see what Milwaukee could be.”

Opening the four-day event, on June 8, Indianapolis won over Sacramento with Claire Wilcher as the referee and Ed Trout as Line Judge. Rounding out the team of players was Chad Woodward as captain with Ben Fraley, Jim Ansaldo, and Patrick McDaniel. While Sacramento was a tough team, Indianapolis took their first big win.

On June 9, Indianapolis battled victorious against San Antonio and came away with a strong win with Eryn Bowser captaining the team of Joe Ottaviano, Kelsey VanVoorst and Bill Wilkison. Referee Tim Harrison closely controlled the match and Lynn Burger handled the duties of Line Judge.

June 10th saw Indianapolis play another win against Philadelphia with Referee Luis Cortes from CSz Los Angeles taking the field. Frankie Bolda was in place as Line Judge. CSz players who brought that win home were Terrell Woods, Courtney McClure Murray, and DJ Murray with Jeff Clawson at the helm as captain.

Saturday afternoon at 4pm, Indianapolis slipped with a loss against Manchester, England. CSz Manchester was a tough team to beat, and while the loss was slight, it didn’t dampen the spirits of Indy players Chelsea Gill, Katrina Kelly, Daryl Hollonequest Jr and Mookie Harris as captain. A bright spot was surprise Referee Rene Duquesnoy (CSz Chicago) who took over the duties of Indianapolis Referee, Jon Colby, in a hilarious and continuous bit about learning to ref a match.

That afternoon loss wasn’t enough for Indianapolis to lose a spot in the final Championship match, as Indianapolis discovered they would be playing against Twin Cities, a team known for wit and strong sportsmanship. Reffing the Championship match was James Bailey (CSz Los Angeles) with Chad Woodward as a Line Judge who gave out a dozen donuts to audience members with more creative suggestions. The final 10pm Saturday match had a bit of a challenging start as each team fumbled to gain control of Rap Battle, but soon found their groove and created a match that was full of humor, music, intelligence, and plain fun. Indianapolis put some of their best and brightest on the field: Todd Kenworthy, Rick Randjelovic and Claire Wilcher, captained by Jon Colby.

“It was electrifying to be in the Athenaeum during the final match. Watching those talented Indy players securing that trophy in front of the hometown fans was stirring,” said Tabak of Buffalo.

A fantastic new addition to Championship this year was the involvement of the Yes, And Band – made up of musicians of ComedySportz Worldwide. Many Indianapolis players (Erik Lundorf, DJ Murray, Michael Davis, Jim Ansaldo, Aaron Stillerman, Patrick McDaniel, and Felicia Fahey) were involved throughout the week and gave live, musical support (fully improvised, of course) during specific games.

“Once again, the city has shown visitors from around the globe our world class hospitality. We were honored to compete on behalf of Indianapolis and hope we made our fans as proud of us as we are of our hometown,” stated CSz Indy player Rick Randjelovic.

The 2017 ComedySportz World Championship will be held next summer in San Jose, California.

All Photographs: Braínne Edge, CSz UK

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Meet your May Player of the Month!

court1 “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” This famous Shakespeare line always reminds me of our very own CSz Indy player, Courtney McClure. Courtney is little, but boy is she fierce on that stage and in life itself! Courtney has been playing with CSz Indianapolis since 2013 and it has made our arena all the better. With her full-on energy and undeniable force of positive vibes and her way of making quick friends, Courtney is someone you can’t miss on or off the playing field. This month, we celebrate all that is McClure – and we celebrate her upcoming wedding to fellow CSz Indy player, DJ Murray!

CSz: What are your favorite ComedySportz games?

CM: Oscar-Winning Moment, Gibberish Opera, Historical Ballet, New Choice, and Advice Panel.

CSz: Why and when did you join ComedySportz?

CM: I started taking ComedySportz workshops because I was hoping to learn something new, have some fun, and make sure that as a grownup I could still make new friends. Luckily, all three happened. Learning the skills in the workshops helped me grow and change as a person. I also met my future husband there, which makes ComedySportz a super special place to me. I decided to audition in 2013, and made the team. It has been a real treasure to me because I have found a whole new family of people I love dearly.

CSz: And we love YOU, Courtney! So, other than playing around at CSz in the evenings, what is your day job?

CM: I teach elementary school. Being on the field (at CSz) helps me better relate to the people I spend the most time with – kids!

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CSz: Do you have any projects coming up you’d like to brag about?

CM: I am currently working towards my 200-hour teaching certification in yoga! I will be certified to teach in August. Oh yeah, I get to marry my best friend D.J Murray later this month!!!!

CSz: I’ve got my outfit picked out for the wedding! Have you had a favorite match or moment during your time with ComedySportz?

CM: Oh gosh, it is hard to pick just one. Guessing for Five Things and getting almost all of them. Also, creating a Historical Ballet where the Loyal Fan could actually tell what historical event we were dancing out. Having crazy, loud Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with my ComedySportz family, too!

CSz: What was your favorite subject in school? I’m going to guess Art of the Graphic Novel!

CM: It was Reading.

CSz: Ohhhh, I was so close. Well, what is the best compliment you ever received?

CM: “Miss McClure, you are tiny, but mighty.” Ava – former fourth grade student.

CSz: Ava is really spot on. I bet Ava loves pizza. What is your perfect pizza?

CM: Bazbeaux Mexican Pizza-so ding dang good.

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CSz: What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning:

CM: Wake up, kick butt, be kind, be grateful – it is legit on my alarm screen when I wake up!

CSz: What is your favorite animal?

CM: Tigers!

 

CSz: What is your favorite book?

CM: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I have a quote from the book tattooed on my arm in the author’s handwriting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CSz: Where is your favorite restaurant?

CM: Bazbeaux, of course.

 

CSz: What is your favorite movie?

CM: Space Jam

CSz: What do you think is your biggest talent?

CM: Loving people so hard.

CSz: Who is your celebrity crush?

CM: Chris Pratt-a true delight.

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CSz: Where is Your Dream Vacation?

CM: Cuba

CSz: What inspires you?

CM: Genuine people working together with open hearts.

CSz: If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

CM: Courtney McClure Murray!

CSz: Your best childhood memory?

CM: My favorite memory is recreating epic Olympic moments with my sister – especially when I was Bella Karolyi and made her be Kerri Strug. The level of commitment I had while carrying her around my front yard is something I am pretty proud of to this day.

CSz: If you won the lottery……

CM: Pay some debt, save a lot, donate some, and spend a little.

CSz: What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?

CM: I have a scar near my hairline – I fell out of bed when I was 3.

CSz: Sweet tooth or savory tooth?

CM: Sweet-I’ve been known to make cookie dough with no intention of ever baking cookies-YOLO PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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CSz: What has been your biggest life change?

CM: I lived in a foreign country-that was tough.

CSz: Have you ever had a life-changing moment?

CM: Taking level one at CSz with Claire Wilcher where I met D.J. Murray. She is marrying us!

CSz: What did you want to be when you were little?

CM: It went from an opera singer to zoo keeper to mom to chef to reporter to an actress-I have always had varied interests.

 

CSz: Who would play you in a movie about your life?

CM: Joshua Smith or Jenny Slate-whoever is available. But Chelsea Peretti should really star as me in a movie about my life!

CSz: I love you, Courtney. So, any upcoming plans that fans should know about so they can come and see you?

I was JUST a part of a Going, Going, Gone show to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation with Chad Woodward and Todd Kenworthy on May 1st!

Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting Courtney Sightings, Loyal Fans!

Well, Isn’t That Punny

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Dad jokes, witty one liners, or as we call it at CSz, the Groaner Foul – are all forms of those irritating, to some, and beloved to others PUNS. Love them or hate them, puns are so infamous that, believe it or not, they even have their very own Championship. This May I will be representing CSz Indianapolis as I go for the gold at the 39th Annual Pun-Off World Championships in Austin, TX. First, though, a little history on the championship, puns themselves, and why we hate/love them so much!

Why O. Henry?

The championship itself was inspired by the author, William Sydney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry. O. Henry was a clever wordsmith indeed, publishing over 300 short stories in his lifetime and enjoying success as a popular author of the time. The O. Henry Pun-Off Championship was created in 1978 and held at the O. Henry Museum in Austin, the former home of the author. Each year, contestants compete from around the world in two categories: Punslingers and Punniest of the Show. Punslingers is a head-to-head pun-off on a topic with no repeats and only five seconds to come up with a viable pun. Punniest of Show allows performers to perform a 90-120 second pun-filled monologue performance.

So, what exactly IS a pun, anyway?

According to the pun-off competition, “A true pun usually plays on the homophonic similarities between two different words or exploits the ambiguities of meaning in words that may appear or sound exactly the same.” (punoff.com/pun-off-rules/pun-off-faq)

For example, if you said in regard to railroads, “I’ve lost TRACK of my TRAIN of thought”, most would assume you’ve made a pun. From eye-rollingly bad to fall-down hilarious, it’s merely a clever play on words. Let’s say you were trying to make a pun on cows. An example of a true pun would be, “I didn’t know milk had so many COWalories.”

For me, personally, puns hold a special place. I have social anxiety. I’ve gotten better over time, but it’s not been easy! What I learned over time is that by making people laugh, I can ease my perceived stress environment and feel included in a welcome atmosphere. Puns, for me, are a default mechanism. When I am in a large group, my go-to is always a bad pun or joke to get a laugh and feel more included from the laughter. It’s a great way to break the ice. ComedySportz is an organization where I get to do that every night on the field, or in the sound booth up top where I get to practice my pun skills at every example of a groaner I can muster. The times when I get the biggest groans are the most satisfying for me! Comedians throughout the ages have turned to comedy and clever word play as therapy for all types of anxiety. Laughter can really be the best cure for what ails you!

In closing, I hope I’ve educated you a bit on the nature of puns and a history of one of the most puntastic championships to showcase the wittiest wordplay of us all. If you would like to help me make this journey to Austin, I have a crowdfunding campaign to source the funds to be able to compete, and bring CSz Indianapolis to the spotlight of just how punny we Hoosiers can be! So, if you can spare the price of an extra coffee, please donate below, I would appreciate it a LATTE……I couldn’t help myself!

— Mark Cashwell, CSz Indianapolis

Pun Fund for Mark Cashwell

For more information about the O. Henry Pun-Off: CLICKY

Meet Your April Player of the Month

DJ Murray is our fantasical Player of the Month for April because he is amazing. And we love him. Today we ask DJ to tell us a little about himself and his improv life and maybe we even get a little soulful look into his personal life…who knows, Loyal Fans….read on…….

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CSz: Hi, DJ! Congrats on being chosen as our Player of the Month. I’d like to know……What is your favorite ComedySportz game(s)?

DJ: I enjoy most ComedySportz games but my personal faves are Kick It, Hyper Flashback, Forward Reverse, Alternate Dubbing, and Gibberish Opera.

CSz: Why and when did you join ComedySportz?

DJ: I started taking the classes because I was looking for a new challenge. After I went through all the levels, I made it onto the roster and joined this amazing family in 2012.

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CSz: Let’s do a rapid-fire Q&A. I know you’re up for it. So…….What is your day job?

DJ: I am a Civil Engineer.

 

CSz: What was your favorite subject in school?

DJ: Math!

CSz: What did you want to be when you were little?

DJ: An engineer or a spy or both.

CSz: What is your favorite book?

DJ: Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut.

CSz: What is your zodiac sign?

DJ: Taurus.

CSz: Your favorite mythological creature?

DJ: Minotaur.

CSz: What is your favorite movie?

DJ: Good Will Hunting.

CSz: What is your Dream Vacation?

DJ: Italy! I could spend months eating and exploring… so much history and gelato.

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CSz: Man, I could really go for some gelato right now. .. Alright, let’s slow it down a bit. The fans have always wanted to know, what is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?

DJ: I was running towards home plate on a suicide squeeze at a high school baseball game. The batter missed the bunt completely but I had too much momentum to turn around so I lowered my shoulder, headed straight at the catcher, hoping he would lose the ball in the collision. He managed to hold on but it turns out it wouldn’t have mattered because you’re not allowed to do that in high school baseball, consequently I was immediately ejected from the game. My coach screamed at me, “Come here!” He continued to chew me out as I made my way off the diamond towards him, and when I was right in front of him he finished up yelling how unacceptable my actions were before leaning in closer to whisper “That was the coolest *bleeping* thing I’ve ever seen.” He then loudly dismissed me to go sit down in the dugout with a convincing tone of disappointment.
Nonetheless, there’s a faint scar where the pressure from the catcher’s face mask broke the skin on my right shoulder which sometimes reminds me of that crazy play.

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CSz: You truly are a fearless player on and off the field, DJ – in baseball AND improv! Have you ever had a life-changing moment?

DJ: Probably when I signed up for the CSz Level 1 Improv Class where I met my future wife.

CSz: Yeah, we LOVE that you two are engaged and getting married soon! And we love it that improv brought you two kids together! You two are the best. Can I ask, do you have any projects coming up you’d like to brag about? We love to brag on our players!

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DJ: I am co-producing a fringe show (www.indyfringe.org) called “Harrison” with Jim Ansaldo, another ComedySportz player. It’s an improvised hip-hopsical centering around Indiana’s rise to statehood.

CSz: That sounds amazing! With your musical talents I’m sure it’ll be a must-see event this summer! Are there any tidbits you’d like to share about yourself?

DJ: I’m getting married in May, that’s pretty exciting right?!

CSz: No, DJ, that’s mega-exciting. We can’t wait to see how the rest of 2016 unfolds for you!

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Congrats to CSz Indy Players, DJ Murray and Courtney McClure and their engagement!

Look for “Harrison” the hip-hopsical at the 2016 indyfringe festival in August: follow @TheHipHopsical for updates!