The organized chaos known as ComedySportz is squeezed into a tiny space inside the Ballston Common shopping mall. It looks like just another retail store; in fact, we walked right by it the first time. But inside, a very funny group of actors offers "improv comedy with a competitive edge." In layman's terms, that's charades with a baseball cap. Despite an amateurish feel to the playing field -- rows of folding chairs are set up on either side of an aisle, and various team pennants dot the walls -- the players are distinctly professional. The actors are split into two teams, and the audience is encouraged to participate by calling out answers to the "referee's" requests: name an activity, name something you wouldn't want to carry, name an emotion. The answers are then worked into skits on the spot by the skillful troupe. Neither obscenity nor bad puns are permissible; both infractions lose points for the offending teams. Sometimes a bit falls flat, but most of the time you can't believe the action and songs are unscripted. In the end, the audience votes on which team it likes best, certainly a tough choice when I saw them. Parents take note: ComedySportz offers a rare PG-night out you can share with your kids, even teenagers. My 14-year-old and his friend accompanied my husband and me, and they actually sat next to us! We all laughed together -- a hard-to-come-by experience.
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