Comedy Sportz at Kookaburra Comedy Club in Berlin
It's Tuesday night at the Kookaburra Comedy Club on Schönhausser Allee. Two teams, one dressed in blue the other in red, compete with each other through humor.
A contestant says "I am massaging an elephant, top that..."
The teams take turns making up scenes on the spot. A referee keeps the game moving, and takes suggestions shouted out by the audience. It's a battle for laughs and points. The name of the game: Comedy Sportz.
"You are out, you hesitated..."
Brian Kapell explains "We are doing this competitive thing just as a vehicle to move from story to story, and because everyone likes a good game, it works. It's just this sporting event feel, it's exciting."
Brian Kapell co-founded Comedy Sportz in Madison, Wisconsin in 1985, since then it has spread to over 20 cities in the United States. Kapell, now a resident of Berlin, has introduced the improv format to the city, attracting people from all walks of life.
Participant Stephanie Geiges: "I am a professional translator and I just tried to get away from the computer and I thought this is perfect, so here I am. I am the token German in the team."
Stephanie Geiges, like most of the players, attended an improv workshop before entering the competition live on stage. There is much to gain from comedy that's played as a sport says improv veteran Mr. Lorch:
Referee Brian Kapell of Comedy Sportz in Berlin
"Learning to communicate with each other, learning to think creatively, learning to open yourself to new ideas that's what improv does."
Comedy Sportz is partly a language lesson as well. The comedians show how playful English can be. They encourage their German audience to participate, even if their English is not perfect. David Casell promises:
"We help people to make their intentions clear. Visually I'm telling a story as well as speaking and if I tell the story visually properly the audience will understand no matter what I'm saying."
Recently Brian Kapell took his team from the comedy club to the class room. He organized a workshop at the John F. Kennedy school in Berlin, working with bilingual students. Hoping to start a new chapter in the story of Comedy Sportz.
"This should lead to a pretty cool idea: A High school league within Berlin of different teams, and different High schools learning the games and compete quote on quote against each other - to keep them smiling, speaking and telling stories."