The traditional format of a ComedySportz (CSz) show features two teams of improvisational performers (Actletes), competing in various improv games and performing scenes with audience members judging the results and awarding points. In every show, a CSz referee monitors the action, awarding points and administering fouls as necessary. The flavor is very much like the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, though the ComedySportz organization precedes that show's debut by 4 years. The CSz format is derived from Theatresports but is not affiliated with that organisation.
ComedySportz penalties (put in place for the audience's benefit) include:
Although the image of competition is maintained, the teams are often dynamic, with rosters depending on which Actletes (many of whom have "day jobs" or are attending school) are available for a match at any given time.
ComedySportz is licensed by the World Comedy League Incorporated. There are over 20 cities with licensed ComedySportz organizations, most in the United States. In recent years, ComedySportz has been licensed in Manchester, England, although this the team originated in Chorley,Lancashire and Dublin, Ireland, although Dublin's organization has since ceased operations. Teams meet annually at the ComedySportz World Championship for a competitive tournament, training and exchange of artistic, marketing and organizational ideas. The location of the tournament rotates among the member cities. The very first World Championship, August 4-7 2004, also served as the Grand Opening for Milwaukee's all-new ComedySportz Arena at 420 South 1st Street in Milwaukee, and was won by CSz-Twin Cities. The 2005 tournament was held in Los Angeles, California. The 2006 tournament was hosted and won by the San Jose, California team. The 2007 CSz World Championship was decided in Quad Cities, being won by the host team once again. In 2008 the CSz World Championship tournament returned to Portland, Oregon, the site of the 1999 tournament, and featured Portland defeating Provo, Utah in the Championship. In 2009, the World Championship will return to Milwaukee for the 25th anniversary celebration.
Most ComedySportz cities operate their own "arenas", some with theatre type settings, others as nightclubs. The clean content and audience focused nature of the ComedySportz show allows the most successful CSz groups to perform thousands of road shows for corporate, college, church, school and association clients each year; most CSz groups also lead corporate teambuilding workshops. In addition, Playerz from some groups coach ComedySportz High School League teams, in which high school students perform in a show very similar to that seen at the "professional" level.
Alumni of ComedySportz include Frank Caeti (MADtv), Liz Cackowski (writer, Saturday Night Live), Jason Sudeikis (cast, Saturday Night Live), and Jeff Davis (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Chris Tallman, a performer on NBC's "Thank God You're Here", Mark Mohelnitzky, a Los Angeles radio personality on KMVN-FM, and Jon Colby, a current Second City performer.