Philadelphia comedy group cultivates improv-niche

    If you think there’s something funny about Philadelphia lately, you’re not wrong. The comedy scene has been steadily developing over the last several years. This summer, an improv-comedy franchise will bring its national competition to the city.

    If you think there’s something funny about Philadelphia lately, you’re not wrong. The comedy scene has been steadily developing over the last several years. This summer, an improv-comedy franchise will bring its national competition to the city.

    ComedySportz is a national brand of improvised comedy operating within a tightly constructed framework – teams compete in game-playing, like free-associated wordplay, spontaneous song lyrics, and quick character sketches. Their trained actors perform weekly in Philadelphia, but much of their work is tailored to corporate team-building events. In July teams from other franchises around country will converge here, vying to be world champion.

    10 years ago, there was little to laugh at in Philadelphia. But since then ComedySportz has arrived, a major stand-up comedy club has opened, and a groundswell of local improvisers have created a vibrant performance scene.

    Matt Nelson has been cracking wise for seven years in Philadelphia. He says in the beginning most audiences were made up of other improvisers.

    Nelson: “What’s great is now when you step out on stage or after a show, you don’t know anyone in the audience. That’s the great feeling you want. That’s what we’re seeing more consistently.”

    Four years ago Nelson founded the annual Philadelphia Improv Festival. The Philadelphia Improv Theater is expecting to open a dedicated improvisational performance space soon.

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