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The Improv Student

Recently, one of the students turned major league player of ComedySportz

Glenn Abernatihy
The Improv Student – Glenn Abernathy

shared his story at one of our High School League practices. Many of us had not heard his story, and we were moved and asked if he would write and share his story. Thank you for sharing your story

“I was not a particularly happy child during my formative years. In middle school, I fluctuated between having zero friends to maybe a maximum of about 3. Most of my time in class was spent either being sarcastic or being quiet. I went to school, I played video games, I ate, and I slept.

My parents were not a fan of that lifestyle, as it turns out. As punishment for my apathy, they shoved me into a couple weeks of ComedySportz kidz camp. CSZ camp lasted 4 days per session, three hours per day, plus a little showcase on the last day for our folks to see what we learned. In terms of content, the camps were rather simple. We were taught to work as a team, get out of our heads, and enjoy ourselves via lots and lots of improv games, ranging from simple scene games to wars with poison swords.

I was not amused.

They wanted the kid who hated people to be a team player. They wanted the perpetual thinker to act on instinct. They wanted the child with the eternal scowl to get rid of it.

My thoughts after one summer of CSZ: NO NO NO A MILLION TIMES NO.

Naturally, I had a lot of problems throughout the last year. My parents were concerned, once again, about my ever-simplifying lifestyle. I ate less, slept less, and aside from spring track, did virtually nothing of substance. So, naturally, they signed my surly butt up for another three weeks of camp.

I will admit, these sessions were a good deal better than the previous ones, for two reasons. First, my quiet side had pretty much gone extinct, so only sarcasm remained. While this wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the people around me, it was much easier to get out of my shell this time around. Second, I made a friend. Only one friend, yes, but quite a good friend, especially considering my penchant for driving people away at this point. By the end of week three, me and the aforementioned friend were close enough that she was able to twist my arm into auditioning for the CSZ high school league with her that fall.

(SIDE NOTE: I still have no idea why they let me audition at that point, let alone why they let me in. I was below high school age, I wasn’t actually in high school, and, other than a reasonable sharp mind, I showed no aptitude for improvisation. I routinely tried too hard to be funny, I picked my spots too meticulously, and I was an absolute black hole as far as team play goes. My parents were benefactors of the theatre at this point, and my little sister, two years my junior, was a much friendlier, much more responsive person. I guess it’s their fault.)

The rest of ComedySportz high school league did not take as well to me as my friend did. There were about 20 of us when I was accepted into the troupe, and the other 18 of them either hated me or were allergic to me. And, frankly, I don’t blame them. Did I mention that I was a sourpuss with a lot lot lot lot lot of teenage angst? I spent the first several months of CSZhsl stuck between a rock and a hard place. I hated being at home, so I spent most of my weekends there, between the practices and the major league shows (To which I had free admittance).

And, by spending time at CSZ, I mean I spent most of my time in the parking lot. During practices, I typically had the common decency to at least stay in the theatre (Though I’d take prolonged trips to the bathroom to avoid going onstage for games that made me uncomfortable. Read: Most of them). I pretty much sat in the back, shut up, and zoned out. During the major league shows, I’d typically grab my iPod and just walk around in the parking lot out back, which has probably become the most famous part of this story. It got so bad at times that my folks came to the shows JUST to make sure I actually watched. But I really couldn’t. I hated the people onstage. They were so good and I was so horrible. I didn’t get it.

Boy, I didn’t get it.

But then something funny happened.

There must have been a conference or something, because things turned after a while. A few people looked at me differently. I wasn’t a surly, unaccepting, sarcastic kid anymore. I was a kid with real problems who needed help. So they picked me up. I’m sure I tried a fair bit to shove them away, but they didn’t budge. And why would they? They were my teammates. And the only one that didn’t understand that was me. After 2+ years there, I still didn’t get the point of ComedySportz Richmond.

Coincidentally, this coincided with the worst summer of my life. My pre-high school summer was filled with all kinds of crap. I got slammed with all sorts of everything, and then some. I got thrown from my own little world into a world where I absolutely couldn’t survive. Since I had no school, there were no academics to take my mind off it either. It was either the real, suddenly cruel world, or it was ComedySportz. For the first time, CSZ wasn’t a convenient way to feign business to my parents (or myself). I needed it.

So, despite all my issues, I sat up a little straighter. I talked a little friendlier. I moved my chair a little closer. I opened my ears a little more. It took a long time, but the light came on. I was still a long way away from ideal: I still fumed on the inside every time somebody else was team captain (Which happened most of the time) or when someone beat me at my favorite game (Which happened less), and I still measured my shows on how many people laughed at me and what I was able to accomplished. But I was onstage, I was thinking less, and I was driven as hell to put a good product on that stage.

My social life improved dramatically after this, and I started to notice some things. Improv requires confidence, decisiveness, teamwork, trust, attitude, and drive. As I slowly added these traits to my improv repertoire (And I stress slowly. I was nowhere near complete at any point during my high school league career), they translated into my life. As I made friends, I got a little happier. I still had issues dealing with my life, but I had made it into something I could live with. As the improv experience grew, the life improvements continued to build in the long run, despite inevitable setbacks. I wouldn’t say at this point that I “got it,” but I was certainly in the process.

April 28, 2009, if memory serves, was the final day of existence for ComedySportz Richmond on Staples Mill road. I was crushed. I still needed ComedySportz. I wasn’t done growing into myself yet. I had never been one to show emotion, despite the troubled soul inside, and I still spent hours crying. I’m not sure something has ever made me as upset.

What I didn’t realize, though, was that the damage had been done. For good. (Well, perhaps damage is the wrong word)

Despite my lack of a stage, my confidence still found ways to build. My apathy continued to disappear. My faith in humanity continued to restore. My reliance on my fellow man contined to grow. My outlook on life grew increasingly bright. Why? Because CSZ was, is, and always will be embedded in my brain, my heart, and my soul. ComedySportz gave me a life worth living. It might sound cheesy, but that’s not an exaggeration. In fact, it doesn’t do CSZ enough justice.

In the years between CSZs, I did a few things to pass the time. I ditched my abhorrence for scripted acting and finally got my rear end into some plays. So far, I’ve been part of a school one-act that advanced to regionals, several plays (Including one lead role and another to come this summer), and a couple random open mic nights where I tried to do some stand-up (I don’t think I’m THAT bad at it. Others might disagree).

My name is Glenn Abernathy, and I think I get it.

The new CSZ opened up in Gold’s Gym Plaza in April 2011. As of July 12, 2011, I have been a player in the CSZ Major Leagues. I assist in a lot of the programs designed to teach kids the values of improv and the fun it can bring. I perform on many weekends in the shows I used to hate to watch. I regularly WATCH (and enjoy) the shows I used to hate to watch. I regularly perform in birthday and other child-audience remote shows.

And now, it seems as if I have become the poster boy for CSZ, and how it can make a happy person out of anyone. CSZ Richmond, and everyone involved between 2005 and now, thank you. You saved my life.”

5 Things To Help Your ComedySportz Audition

Thinking about auditioning for ComedySportz! We’d love to have you come and give it a try. Many of our players have been involved in and performing improvisation for years, but they didn’t start knowing how to be a great improviser. Many of us just tried out because we thought the it would be fun. And it was! So much so that we made the team, and have been experience oodles, and oodles of fun performing and being a part of the ComedySportz

Here are a few tips that can assist in your efforts when auditioning!

1) Be present! Think of improv auditions like a musical jam session and  just go with the flow. When you try to force the music it never sounds right, but when you just let it happen, it’s pure nirvana! Well do that. Let it happen by being present!
2) Don’t force the funny! Please, please, please, don’t try to be funny! It’s never funny when you try to force the funny. It comes across as “LOOK AT ME I’M FUNNY!! NOW LAUGH!” If that happened in a ComedySportz show, the audience (“Loyal Fans”) would cross their arms and become defensive or defiant. The funniest things happen, when you are not “forcing” the funny. Stay out of your mind. Thinking of the next thing to say while in a show, instead of simply responding, is writing script. And in going to your mind, you often do not hear what is actually happening and by the time you add the your line of thought, the line you just scripted in your head, the moment has passed, and it’s no longer going to be funny.
3) Support the players with whom you are working. Make them shine more than you want to shine. Make ’em look marvelous! The auditioners always notice team work.
4) Fail! Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do, enjoy the moment. Generally, when a mistake happens in the show, the audience laughs. It tends to be comedy gold. So, accept it, embrace it, let it happen, and continue. If you act like it was a mistake, if you have that look of “failure” or “sorry” on your face shake it off, otherwise, it comes across as “I’m not good enough” and of course, you are.
5) HAVE FUN!!!!

Circle Of Life at CSzRVA

This weekend was a banner weekend for ComedySportz Richmond shows.

Over the course of the weekend, we had a scene that ended with the song Circle of Life from the Lion King. Our own Aaron Grant and his new baby Jackson, were in the audience watching. Compelled by the music Aaron walked up onto the field with Jackson above his head as if he were indeed Simba. All the players, instantly and instinctively acted as animals and bowed at the young kings feet.

Then we celebrated a 50th anniversary for a private party, cus we do that sort of thing. The party was all afternoon, and the fabulous food was catered. We sampled! It was yummy! Word has it that everyone had a good time. Well, that’s what the little Mrs.’ told her husband to say, and he did so right on cue.

The weekend was completed with a Loyal Fan proposing to his girl friend during a show. We got them both on the stage as volunteers for a game, which ended with him getting down on one knee and popping the question. She said yes, and everyone applauded! It was quite the amazing moment and our first engagement in our new theatre.

Yup! It truly was a weekend celebrating A Circle of Life!

ComedySportz Improv Theatre To Open on April Fools!

And that ain’t no joke! Or is it…

ComedySportz Improv Theatre of Richmond is set to open our doors again! We’ve been in spring training 
brushing up on those improv skills. We have a bunch of new players and the return of many of the regulars you’ve grown to love over the years.

We thank you for giving us the feed back we needed in compiling the research for our new location. Reading your comments and input was very informative, and some of you are very humorous! What tickled us the most was that many of you requested that we set our new home in Short Pump, but then we had equal responses to “Hell no don’t go to Short Pump!” We actually settled for a location in the West End about 5 miles away from Short Pump at the Gold’s Gym Plaza. You may know this plaza as the old Loehmann’s Plaza or the West Tower Plaza or where the West Tower Movie theatres are, or the place to get Gelati Celesti ice cream, or the place with the Starbucks!

You might be asking “What’s going to be different about this ComedySportz theatre?”

Well, we’re going to focus on the shows and not the food! We know our strengths and it ain’t running a restaurant. If you want food tho, there a number of different restaurants in our shopping center such as Peking, Pho City, Quiznos, and Starbucks. And if you’re an ice cream lover you’ll want to make sure to save some room form Gelati Celesti’s! We’ll have some concessions available, but if you want dinner and a show, come and eat and drink at one of our neighbors restaurants, and then come laugh at us!

And perhaps you noticed on the home page of our site that we have a fundraiser and are asking for the support of loyal fans in raising enough to get our theatre started. The fundraiser goes to equipment we’ll be needing for the new CSzRVA theatre such as lights, seats, etc.

That’s it for this bit o newz! Although we would love to hear your comments. What are you looking forward to seeing at the shows? What have you missed? What did you enjoy at our theatre? We love comments!

Our Search Begins!

Hi Loyal Fans,

We’ve been busy loyal fans, that’s for sure. We’re looking at new locations and places for the new and improved improv theatre and would love your input. We have a survey we’ll be sending out to you in a couple weeks, and your feedback of where we’ll be and what we’ll offer is very important to us. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to fill out our survey and help us help you.

If you are not on our mailing list, please sign up and get all the latest news about our new Theatre, audition information, workshops, programs, and so much more.

In the mean time, here is a brief update from us, and a reminder to think about booking your corporate training, programs, and holiday entertainment with us. It might sound like it’s a bit too early to think of those December parties, but believe you me, it will be here before you know it!

Read on, and enjoy!

Lessons Of Laughter
Corporate Programs

Who doesn’t like to laugh? Did you know we retain more information when humor is injected into educational programs?
Not only that, but we are more creative when we play; when we stop focusing on the matter at hand, step away, and engage is playful activities.

Isn’t it funny that it was Shakespeare that wrote “The play’s the thing”, meaning the performance, and yet what a wonderful double entendre. It might seem trivial, but the art of play really is the thing!

Improvisers know this all to well. Improv isn’t the art of being silly, but the art of play, communication, teamwork, and creativity. Over the years we’ve worked with 100’s of companies providing creative and innovative programs that focus on their needs.
Lessons Of Laughter and ComedySportz offers corporate programs, training, keynote presentations, and presentation coaching.

Book Entertainment for that Holiday Party!

One year, during a party for one particular company, the president of the company volunteered to perform in one of the improv games we play. Everyone, including the president, thought he was going to be toast and that the improvisers would make him the laughing stock of the show. Oh contraire!

Improvisation focuses on making the other person, our partners, look good, and THAT is EXACTLY what happened! The show was a great success, the president and all the employees enjoyed a memorable night of laughter, and, although we can not confirm this, we think the person that hired us got a huge raise. We’re just sayin’.

Our ComedySportz show or Christmas Carol Show is available this holiday season. Contact us at 804.266.9377 for more information.

Still not sure about our show for your party? Watch this!!

Christmas Carol for Holiday Parties!


Every year we see it on TV! In one version or another Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas Carol is there to remind us how important it is to live in the attitude of gratitude!

This year, instead of watching some bizarre version on TV staring some D list celebrity, hire us and let us bring your team up and into the show.

This interactive program gets your staff involved as either street vendors, ghosts of Christmas past or present, Tiny Tim, nad even Scrooge!

Don’t worry, with every show we do, our number one focus is to make our audience look good! So who ever comes up and participates in the show, will definitely be the star!

Call us at 804.266.9377 or email us at for more information.

Thanks again Loyal Fans for your support! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our new location. If you want to make a crazy huge, say $10,000, contribution, we’ll be more than happy to let you see our shows for free for a week or two.

All kidding aside, if you do wish to make a contribution, be involved as volunteers, or contribute information that can help us improve our next theatre, we will gladly appreciate your support.

Thank you,

Howie The Ref

New Newz

Hey Loyal Fan

First, how have y’all been. We’ve missed you! Miss seeing you, performing for, and with you, and miss hearing you laugh with us. So much is happening with the ComedySportz gang, and it’s time we let our fans in on the news. In this issue you’ll find out about the ComedySportz Richmond, Phoenix Rising Tour, Christine Walters new endeavors, and an upcoming benefit show.

It’s all so exciting! While we’ve been busy little bees, we hope you’ve had a chance to venture out to see some of the other improv that’s happening in town. All our friends have branched out and are performing and you can catch Paradox, Richmond Comedy Coalition, or Random Acts shows are easy to find.
Upcoming show!

Zak Resnick

ComedySportz Fundraiser for the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Youth

Saturday, June 19 – 7:00pm
St. Thomas Episcopal Church – Parish Hall
3402 Hawthorne Avenue in the Ginter Park neighborhood of Richmond’s Northside
Tickets: $10 each OR $25 for a family (2 parents & up to 4 kids)
Tickets available at the door as long as they’re available, or online in advance at

Why? This August, members of the St. Thomas Youth Group will be embarking on a mission trip to the mountains of West Virginia, the heart of Appalachia. They will spend a week working directly with a family affected by poverty, volunteering their time with home repairs and helping them out however they can. This show is to raise funds to help cover transportation, food and additional program costs associated with making the trip a reality!

Lessons Of Laughter
Christines New Headshot

Christine Walters is back in the saddle again. She just started her own company, LOL, Lessons Of Laughter, LLC. Try as she might to not be involved with comedy, her heart is with improv and ComedySportz. We always knew it was! Now, with LOL, her focus is corporate innovation and team training, speaking engagements, creating creative programs, and coaching presentation skills. Visit her new site at if you’re looking for programs, a speaker, or a presentation coach.

Last August Christine started a cheerleading program with RMA , Retail Merchants Association. She and five others create informative and comical cheers for the monthly RMA breakfast meetings. Perhaps you saw the recent cheer Martin’s was Ukrop’s and Ukrop’s is Martin’s.

During her time away from comedy, one of the loyal fans/friends had her working with his companies. She’s still moonlighting with The Document Termination Company, and City Ice. Why did she choose to work with this loyal fan? Because she believes in his integrity to quality products. In her opinion these two companies provide the best product in their field, and they’re produced here in Richmond.

ComedySportz Richmond, Phoenix Rising Tour
Phoenix Rising Tour Since we are in the planning stages of bringing back da’ funny, we are looking for ways to bring the ComedySportz show to our fans. We’ve had fans continuing to ask when and where will our next show be. Thank you, we appreciate the love.

With that in mind, and while lining our ducks in a row, working on the plan, and looking for a new theatre space, we are also coordinating a ComedySportz Richmond Phoenix Rising Tour. We are now accepting offers to bring our show to your neighborhood. If you know of a restaurant with a private banquet room, a location with a theatre space, or any other location that offers a private area and is interested in boosting their food and or door sales we want to talk. The team is looking to perform for you, and we need our fans help to find locations that might be a great fit. If you know of a location, please contact us at The new management team will be eager to work with your ideas. Soon, you’ll be able to visit our website, for all the new news!

Loyal Fans,

While we’re working on our new endeavors please help us by telling everyone you know about  the return of ComedySportz Richmond. We are open to location ideas, to restaurant partners, to investors etc. If you fit that description, or know someone who does please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

While we make our plans, stay tuned for the announcement of where you can join in fun of the Phoenix Rising Tour. Also, in the mix we’ll be having auditions for our Major League team this fall. And as soon as we have our new theatre we’ll be relaunching our High School League and Little League programs. We have a lot of old things we’re looking forward to bringing back, and a great deal of new things we can’t wait to start.

Lots of Laughs,

Ref Howie,

ComedySportz Improv
Richmond, Virginia 23228

The RiF Link and Sponsorship Information

Seems the link in our latest newsletter had a broken link to the Richmond Improv Festival site. If you are looking for information about the upcoming event check it out at

Interested in being involved with the festival? Want to see it really succeed, and are looking for a good program for an investment? We have some last minute sponsorship space available if you or your company are interested here more information.

Peace and Laughter,

Upcoming Shows and The RiF

Ah yes, we’ll be back in action again in no time at all!

In just two short weeks we’ll be performing again at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen.  It will be the night before Halloween, October 30 at 7:00 and we’re looking forward to playing all of our spooky games. The players are getting ready and excited for this trick or treat occasion; mainly because the games in this show are more dangerous then most games we perform.  Food and beverage is provided by Catering by Jill, so come hungry.

Besides our ComedySportz shows at Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen you can still catch a bunch of the players performing at Art6. If you’re on Facebook you can find out more information by joining the Richmond Comedy Coalition, or Art6. And the Random Acts Boys have landed at HaTTheatre so if you get a chance check them out.

What else is on the horizon you might ask? Well, glad you did! The RiF, The Richmond Improv Festival is just a few short weeks away! This year the RiF will be held at CenterStage and Capital Alehouse and runs from November 5 – 7.  We are very excited as we have 22 troupe from all across the east coast performing in the festival.  Check out the schedule!

This year we have some great sponsors for the RiF such as CenterStage, Capital Alehouse, Hilton Garden Inn, and The Richmond Jaycees.  If your company is interested in becoming a sponsor contact us at for information and details.

We look forward to seeing you all and having you laugh with us again!

A Funny Thing Happened!

We’re bringing improv back! You read that right! We’re returning to Richmond, actually Glen Allen to perform our ComedySportz Show and The Scene!

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen has announced the addition of the 2nd Stage performance series. 2nd Stage will take place in the Cardinal Ballroom inside The Center complex. Richard Koch, Performing Arts Manager states, “We want to create a program that compliments our Center Season. Whereas our Center Season presents international, national, regional and local performers, this series will focus more on local and regional talent. With the addition of this cabaret seating style venue, we’ll be able to offer the Richmond residents more events at lower prices.”  The series includes local musicians as well as local performing arts groups with food and beverage available for purchase from Catering by Jill.

The headliner group for 2nd Stage will be the local favorite comedy troupe, ComedySportz Improv Theatre. Beginning Friday, July 25 and continuing on Friday, July 31, Friday, August 7 and Friday, August 14, they will offer two performances per evening. The 7pm performance, ComedySportz Improv, features a comedy show that is great for the entire family. In the show, two teams battle for laughs and points as they make up scenes, games and songs on the spot. The audience votes for the winners, a referee calls the fouls. The national anthem is even played before each match! The 9:30pm show, “The Scene” Improv offers a more mature comedy show. Each showing of The Scene features three different groups entertaining you with their own unique style of comedy, if you’ve seen Chicago style improv you’re in for a real treat!  Christine Walters, Muse of Merriment and Grand Poobah of ComedySportz Richmond, states, ” We are very excited to bring ComedySportz to The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. The players have been getting antsy not having a home and are ready to bring da funny back to Henrico!” Beginning in September the performance schedule continues with performances on Friday, September 4, Friday, October 30, Friday, November 27 and Friday, January 22.  Tickets for each show are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Pretty exciting stuff if you ask us! We can’t wait to make you laugh again.