Canned Laughter: Putting our Brown Bags to Good Use

cannedLaughterCanFor the month of November the improv comedy show, ComedySportz NYC is offering away tickets absolutely free in exchange for canned food items. Food items brought to the theater will be donated to the Food Bank For New York City.

The Food Bank For New York City feeds 400,000 hungry New Yorkers daily. The Food Bank distributes food to over 1000 agencies within the five boroughs (soup kitchens, pantries, mobile pantries at school cafeterias, homeless shelters, schools, community centers, etc.) One third are children under the age of 18.  A majority of these children are eligible for free or reduced lunch, Statistics show that over 90% of children receiving a free or reduced lunch rate at school are at risk of not eating again that day.


During the holiday season, ComedySportz NYC is providing the opportunity to give back to the community through a positive evening of both charity and laughter.

(ComedySportz®  New York has shows every Saturday at 6pm at the Broadway Comedy Club at 318 W 53rd Street. Tickets may be reserved over the phone at 646-580-0291 or online at with the Promo Code: THANKS.)


Meet the Teach: Andrew Cornelius

Hello, ComedySportz New York Loyal Fanz!

Its been a great summer. Some of our Playerz have produced works of their own (A.J. Cote’s Puppet Shakespeare premiered Puppet Titus Andronicus and James Rana launched a revised Zoro!) and “we dominated” at the ComedySportz tournament in Milwaukee; according to the subject of this month’s blog, Andrew Cornelius. More on him later.

Production ReadyBut fun aside, we’re officially “post Labor Day”, which means back to school time for students, old and young. And with that we wanted to spotlight the instructor our 303 class.  None other than the super talented Andrew Cornelius. Andrew is a prime example that in order to stay knowledgeable and fresh in any field, you have to keep learning. He is a “proud graduate” from Second City A – E (games), Second City Conservatory and Musical Conservatory, iO, Annoyance, in Chicago; as well as Magnet Musical Improv, The PIT, UCB and Broadway’s Next Hit Musical. Training aside, he’s also equally as supportive off the stage as he is on and he took some time (while he was on vacation) to answer some questions about the upcoming level 303 class.

How long have you been performing as a ComedySportz player and why did you join?

My debut show with ComedySportz New York City was July 30th, 2011.  I was a part of  short-form improv comedy teams in Chicago from 2005 – 2010 prior to that.  I joined ComedySportz because my friend from musical improv classes, Drew Tarvin, got me an audition slot.  I should point out Drew is now a CSz manager…so, I think he has good taste.

What’s a fun memory that you have from performing with CSz?

I was blown away by ComedySportz tournament this year in Milwaukee, WI.  It is such an amazing feeling to perform this kind of comedy locally, and then travel to find there are other performers across the United States (and the UK and Germany) doing the work as well or better.  The icing on the cake was performing in front of an audience of local fans and being funny enough to win the votes away from the home team.  Eat it, Milwaukee!

What do you love about coaching/ teaching?

I love teaching in general.  There are so many ways to do a particular scene well, and I like to put on my “Artistic Director” hat and shine the light on other ways to make a successful scene.  In particular, I love teaching the 300 level classes because this is where I get to show off the “cheat-codes.”  Not only do we get to delve into the micro-comedy of “what is the built-in comedy in a game?” but we get to tackle macro-comedy questions of “where can we mine the whole-show comedy gold?”

What coach/teacher was the biggest influence on your playing style?

The biggest influence on my playing was Mick Napier of the Annoyance.  The Annoyance was like improv graduate school for me.  He taught me my style of play, which I would describe as aggressively collaborative.  I convey comedic ideas, but not at the expense of my scene partner’s.

What do you hope students will gain from the class?

If I did my job, the students will walk away better players of the ComedySportz game canon and leave with an understanding of how to maximize their comedy opportunities in a short-form improv show.

Sign up for our next semester today. You’ll be glad you did.


ComedySportz NYC Auditions

ComedySportz NYC Auditions
ComedySportz New York, a nationally affiliated professional short-form improv group that is part of CSz Worldwide, with branches in 24 cities including Chicago, Portland, L.A., Austin, Provo, Manchester (England) and Berlin (Germany), is seeking new members. Lynn Marie Hulsman, artistic dir.; Jill Shely, prod.-managing dir.; Glenn Packman & Drew Tarvin, assoc. dirs. Performs weekly at the Broadway Comedy Club on W. 53rd St. in NYC, with opportunities for private, corporate, and touring gigs; performances are ongoing.
Seeking—Top Tier Improvisers: male and female, 18+, all ethnicities, must have extensive stage experience and advanced-level improv skills, no students or beginners, seeking positive, mature, group-minded individuals who know how to honor an audience and play well with colleagues (both on- and off-stage).
Auditions will be held by appt. only the evening of September 9 in midtown NYC. You can submit a headshot, resume and letter of interest to Be prepared for callbacks on September 10. No fees; possible pay, plus travel and lodging provided.

Summer ends…and ComedySportz NYC comes home!

Sundown is earlier, bracing breezes are blowing, and the calendar shows that summer is nearing its end. But the cooler temperatures and back-to-school bustle mean that comedy weather is on its way…and ComedySportz New York City is going BACK2COOL. Yep, even as the 1%ers are packing up their summer abodes in the Hamptons and heading back to their decadent Manhattan homes, we’re leaving our cozy summer digs at the former THIS Theater and returning to our theater district home at the Broadway Comedy Club. And to ease the seasonal transition, we have a special ticket offer!

Here what’s happening: Beginning September 6, for an open run, ComedySportz NYC returns to the Broadway Comedy Club, 318 W 53rd St (between 8th & 9th Aves), New York. Shows are Saturday nights at 6 pm and are suitable for all ages.

And tickets, normally $20 in advance, are only $10 when you use the promo code BACK2COOL and purchase online at . Food and beverages are available for purchase, but there is no drink minimum.

ComedySportz NYC: We’ve been running hot all summer, but when autumn rolls around, you gotta keep your cool.



Beep! Beep! Beep!

What’s that beeping? That’s the sound of us moving to our new performance space!

Starting Friday, June 13th, Comedy Sportz NYC will be doing a limited run, Fridays, at THIS Theater & THAT Gallery; at 154 West 29th Street! Does that address seem familiar to you? If you’ve been on the New York comedy scene for at least five or six years, you might remember it as The Peoples Improv Theater’s former address, from 2002-2010. In fact, this is where I used to work as an intern and had some of my first PIT class shows. Lot’s of great memories and our CSz NYC team is excited to be a part of the first shows, in the inaugural year of THIS Theater.

Owned by The PIT and Simple Studios owner, Ali Reza Farahnakian, THIS Theater & THAT Gallery was beautifully renovated over the past few months into the “classic 60 seat black box theater,” that we’ll be playing at this month. The stage is similar to the PIT’s Striker Mainstage, with double side entrance stage doors, a center wall round-about and stadium seating. Can’t wait to do some “Honey, I’m home/I just got this awesome info to share” entrances from one of those doors.

Come check us out! We’ll be there every Friday in June @ 8pm; starting on June 13th.




Player Spotlight: James Rana

james-ranaThis post is dedicated to our next player celebrating a spring birthday: James Rana.

James Rana, born on May 6th, is probably the most debonaire and cultured member of our ComedySportz New York team, although he would be highly embarrassed to read that or even be told so–he is equally as humble as his voice is smooth. (If you’ve ever heard him speak on stage or through our speakers, as Mr. Voice, you know this to be true.) He’s so smooth, you would never have guessed that he’s from Teaneck, New Jersey. (I’m from New Jersey, so I get to say that.)

A lover of tuxedos and all things related to the arts, James got his start in the world of physical comedy, through a birthday gift of juggling lessons given to him by his aunt. He loved it so much that he almost applied to Ringling Clown College, but of course his parents were not thrilled with that idea.

Not being dissuaded, he continued to study juggling, clowning and some physical theater while in college. He jokes that when it was time to go to college, since he grew up in Teaneck, “[he] decided that it was time to get out of Teaneck, so [he] went to Fairleigh Dickinson University…in Teaneck.”

That isn’t to say that he didn’t want to move on from the Garden State. At 19, after watching a lot of SCTV and reading the improvisation manual Truth in Comedy, he wrote to Charna Halpern (co-founder of the ImprovOlympic) who surprisingly wrote back, extending an invitation to come to Chicago. However, being unsure of his ability to survive on his own in Chi-Town, he stayed and became immersed in every possible form of artistic study: from acting to dance to the radio station at FDU.

I believe that one of the things that makes James a fun player is his dedication to learning, which led to the many opportunities that he has acquired as a professional performer. His resume is a dizzying list of skills: Renaissance Faire man, children’s theater, balloon sculptor, fire eater, stilt walker (he leads the Mermaid Parade as Uncle Sam on stilts every summer at Coney Island), Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Law and Order: SVU, Santa Claus, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Big Apple Circus and on and on.

In addition to his performances, James has also created and produced a documentary on Edgar Allan Poe, distributed by NPR, and has written several plays, including “The Poe Mysteries” and adapted versions of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Zorro,” which will premiere in July (look for more info on that in the summer).

So, with all of this under his belt, of course my question was, “why did you decide to audition for ComedySportz?” In true James Rana form, his answer was “I thought it would help me become a better performer.” He went on to say, “I’ve enjoyed watching myself grow” and “feel more confident.” He recalls that early on there was a feeling of “being like a deer in the headlights” but now he’s embracing that there’s “something wonderful about going on that stage and you do not know what’s going to happen. That’s a scary thing but it’s also a beautiful thing.” Well said, James.

His favorite game is Dead Serious (Serious Scene). He comments that it’s “like a really bad version of a soap opera. It’s a fun way to really get to act.” He’s also “fallen in love with 3 Things.”

Now, there’s plenty more that I can say about James, and I will later in the summer, as we get closer to the premier of his adapted version of “Zorro;” but for now I will leave you with what he would want to tell himself a year from now: “Keep breathing.”

10 Things You Should Know About…

It’s finally Spring in NYC!! We can tell by 3 things: 1. People start wearing shorts even though its only 45 degrees. 2. ComedySportz NYC’s 10 Year Anniversary was April 26th 3. Several of our Playerz are having birthdays back to back. Find out about two of them (one being me) in a segment below, that I just made up, called:

Ten Things You Should Know About MJC and MFT

1. Full Name

2. Birth Day

April 15th

April 18th

3. Hometown

Philadelphia, PA

East Orange / Montclair, NJ

(Lived equal amounts of time in both cities)

4. College

Syracuse University

Temple University

Seton Hall University then transferred in my “Junior Year” to

William Paterson University

5. Studied Improv at….

Random improv workshop in Philly

Second City, Toronto

Players Workshop @ Second City, Chicago

Improv Olympic, Chicago

The Peoples Improv Theater

Upright Citizens Brigade

6. Teams That You’ve Been On

The Edmund Fitzgerald (iO) Aug. 1993

One Night Stand (iO) Oct.-Dec. 1993

Distant Cousins (iO) Jan.-Mar. 1994

Mr. Blonde (iO) Jan.-Nov ’94;

May – Jul. ’95

ComedySportz Chicago – Oct.’94-Apr ‘96

Annie Sprinkle (iO) – Jan.-Mar 1996

ComedySportz Philadelphia –

Apr ‘97 – Nov ‘00

Lunchlady Doris  – Sept ’97 – Jun ‘00

ComedySportz NYC – Dec ‘00-Nov ‘01; Oct. 2011-present

Myth Reduction – Nov. 2001- 2002

Corpa –  ? – Sept. 2002

Jonathan Maximus Rockenstern Presents (indie/PIT) Sept. 2002-Aug. 2003

Let’s Get Serious (PIT) ?-? 2003

Side Project  – ?-? 2004

Butter (The Project/Magnet) Sept ‘04-Nov ‘05; Nov. 2006

The Rebecca Factory (The Project/Magnet) – Jan.-Jun. 2006

CON (Magnet) Feb.-Mar. 2007

The Class Of… (Magnet/indie) Jan.-Mar. 2008; Jun. 2010

“I’m forgetting some.”

The Indoor Kids – 2008 – 2009

Brenda! – 2010 – 2011

Michelin – 2011 – Present

Nobody’s Token – 2011 – 2012

ComedySportz NYC – 2012 – Present

Scandal-prov – 2012

Midnight Society – 2013

Thomas, Newman, Parker and Murphy – 2013

Trauma Center – 2013

The Pin-Up Squirrels – 2013

Yes, Chef! (The PIT) – 2013 – Present-ish

Gas Station Horror – 2014 – Present

7. When/How Did You Get Involved With ComedySportz?

“The night of Mr. Blonde’s last show, my friend Bill was in the audience and came up to me (while I was depressed (and thinking) “There’s nothing after this. I’m going back to Philly. I’m done here. I’m not gonna get on another iO team because nothing’s going to be as good”) and said “You know ComedySportz auditions are next week You’re auditioning, right?”

I said “No. I do long form. I do slow comedy. I can’t do that fast stuff.” Bill said, “Oh, you don’t have to be fast, you just have to be quick.” To this day, I have no idea what that means but somehow it got me to audition.”

“I saw the audition notice on I already had experience in short form through volunteering with an organization called Cherub Improv, but I wasn’t sure if “short form was for me,” but I figured I at least knew enough games to have fun in the audition. I did. I got a call back and the rest is history.”

8. Favorite ComedySportz game

Heavy Rotation. “We don’t play it in NYC because it’s better with four players. It’s crazy.”

Fairytale Half-Life

9. Favorite Color to Play As

“I like the color blue better, so maybe blue, but maybe red so I get to see the blue uniforms on the other team.”

“Red, of course.”

10. Favorite Moment As An Audience Member and/or Player

“I can’t tell my favorite moment on a family website, but my second favorite moment was in 1998, when I was in ComedySportz Philadelphia, and Tom McManus proposed to his now-wife, Micheline, on stage during New Choice (they were both CSz players). She was wearing a wacky yellow shower cap.”

“A few months ago, we did an All-Skate Day in the Life Musical. I enjoyed playing the main character; an 8th grade girl that went to a boarding school. During her story, she mentioned that a “new girl” on the team fell when they were playing ice hockey. During our rendition, after the “new girl” fell, everyone started laughing, so I said, “Hey, guys, we’re better than that,” and began to help her up but then skated past her to score. (As I imagined she might have wanted to do in real life.)”

*11. Bonus – If you were to read this interview a year from now, what would you want to tell your future self?

“I hope you’re still doing this.”

“Slow motion is better than no motion. Keep moving forward.”


 About the Author: Michelle Francesca Thomas is a five-year improv veteran, an Essex County, NJ, native, and a lover of comedy. She has studied improv at the PIT and UCB and can been seen performing with ComedySportzNYC at the Broadway Comedy Club.

Ten Years in NYC, Thirty Years Around the World!

ComedySportz NYC might have just turned 10 this past weekend, but this June the national ComedySportz is turning 30!

We’re excited to announce that on June 18, all ComedySportz teams across the globe will get to reveal to our Loyal Fans the **brand new** ComedySportz logo. The big unveiling ceremony is taking place at ComedySportz Milwaukee (the birthplace of ComedySportz!) during our annual World Championship and 30th anniversary celebration.

Can’t be with us in Milwaukee for the World Championships? Not to worry – we’ll be paying tribute to the past 30 years with fun activities and contests in our shows when you visit. After June 18th? Stick with us for the revolution and find out. See you there! #CSz30”