veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

Lights, camera, ComedySportz!

The club that brings laughter and excitement to the Oak Park community

Through the ages, one thing has remained constant: humor. Whether it’s Dad cracking a bad joke or muffled giggles between friends across the classroom, comedy appears frequently in everyday life. Humor is invisible but integral in releasing tension, relieving stress and forging social bonds. As comedian and actor Yakob Smirnoff once said, “Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection.” 

One Friday a month, Oak Park High School students and families gather in the pavilion to do precisely that. By 7 p.m., the audience shuffles in from returning parents to curious students.

“People are always a little skeptical of ComedySportz before they show up,” senior and ComedySportz member Aaron Helfstein said. “But once they do, they always say they’re glad they [did]. ”

ComedySportz is an audience-interactive show where two teams of four compete in improv games. A referee scores each game and calls fouls on vulgar language or unfunny jokes. In one game called Cutaway, actors are transported into various scenes within a universe. 

“It sometimes comes around to the original scene, and it’s a big ‘aha’ moment for the audience,” Helfstein said. Expert Challenge, another fan-favorite opener, allows improvisers to lecture on a topic until an opposing member challenges their statement. 

ComedySportz was founded by a few comedians from Wisconsin in the ‘80s but is currently on the rise at OPHS. Many notable comedians, including SNL writer Liz Cackowski and Pitch Perfect producer Kay Cannon, began their careers in ComedySportz. 

This year at OPHS, there are over 20 team members, including nine newbies. Team manager Elizabeth Dusek started competing her freshman year when ComedySportz was online. 

“It wasn’t as fun because so much of it is being with other people and being around the team, but it was still a nice activity to do, especially when you’re all bored at home. Now it’s only grown and just gotten cooler and better,” Dusek said. 

Dusek has explored her strengths and weaknesses throughout her four years on the team.

“It’s made me a lot more open and creative, I think, because when you have to be put on the spot and say this silly stuff, it makes you not afraid to express yourself,” Dusek said. 

The idea of improv has allowed members to consider a future in the production industry. While attending a highly academic school, players can translate their stress through acting and unconventional performance. Understandably so, the unique atmosphere allows for a diverse crowd.

“You meet a ton of people that you just wouldn’t ever really talk to, and it’s really cool to be walking by and to wave at someone,” Dusek said. “You just kind of have this network of people that you didn’t know previously.” 

Helfstein encountered similar benefits; he developed lifelong friendships while being on the team. 

“It’s the one thing that has always remained consistent with me and the thing I love to do the most on campus,” Helfstein said. 

Like Dusek and Helfstein, ComedySportz at OPHS is also constantly evolving. What does this mean for the future of the club? OPHS’ funniest extracurricular is believed to be in good hands. 

“We have a strong bond as a team, and this year, with all of the seniors graduating, we can only hope to leave that same bond with the rest of the team,” Helfstein said. 

The upperclassmen have done an excellent job training the new members, and ComedySportz will continue to create laughs. 

“We have a very strong group of newbies that are coming up this year. They perform in January for the first time,” Helfstein said. 

Public speaking is a common fear among high schoolers, but with the ComedySportz community supporting you, trying out is a great idea. 

“If you want to audition next year, I just say ‘go for it.’ You never know, you might be good,” Helfstein said. “Don’t limit yourself in your abilities,” Dusek said.

“It’s a fun thing to do on a Friday night if you want to have some fun with your friends and laugh a little bit too,” Helfstein said. The next ComedySportz game is Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:00 p.m.. “It does sound a little weird, but once [they] go to one game,” Dusek said. “People will come back because it’s just so much fun to watch.” 

Laughter heals the soul, and the OPHS ComedySportz team strives to do just that.

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