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Arts and Entertainment

LA's ComedySportz May Close By October

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Usually, the faces change but the places stay the same. At least that’s the idea when it comes to the myriad of comedy houses peppered throughout Los Angeles. The names come and go (some bigger than others), but the brand and the comedy philosophy stay with the space. Groundlings, ACME,  iO West, and UCB (a relative newcomer, but still not-so-quietly celebrating their 5th anniversary this month) all preach a very specific form of comedy, and have been doing it in one form or another for years. Each of these, however, pale in longevity to ComedySportz LA, which holds a very unique distinction as not only the most tenured comedy theater in town, but is actually the longest running stage show in Los Angeles. All of which could change without your help.

After more than twenty years of perfecting primarily short form improv comedy (think of Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, where players tackle simple, structured improv games based on audience suggestions), ComedySportz Los Angeles could be forced to shutter its doors as early as October. According to James Bailey, artistic director and founder of the theatre, ComedySportz is desperately close to falling victim to recession-era economics, when people tighten their belts and more often than not leave the laughter at home.

While the past few years have been undeniably tough for all sectors of the entertainment industry, losing ComedySportz could prove to be a tougher pill to swallow than many Angelenos currently realize. By billing themselves - and correctly so - as one of the only consistently family-friendly funny spots in town, they have managed to perhaps alienate a segment of their potential audience that believes comedy must be edgy or shocking to work. The truth to these polarizing comedy viewpoints surely lies somewhere in the middle, but so far their vocal fanbase hasn’t proven itself loud enough to quiet the looming thunderstorms.

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Still, there may yet be a clear horizon of sorts for the longstanding comedy theater. A new website has sprung up, complete with a video plea from Bailey himself, asking fans, friends, and anyone interesting in reviving a piece of the LA comedy landscape to buy tickets to their shows. Instead of donations, ComedySportz is at least attempting to give the people one final chance to see what they’re all about, while still coffering enough coin to keep the lights on indefinitely. Ultimately, the scheme may be short-lived, but no less ballsy for trying. Which, after all, is a message ripped from the heart of live comedy itself: honesty, ambition, and fearlessness - all flying in the face a of potential disaster. Godspeed, ComedySports LA.

To purchase tickets to ComedySportz LA shows or otherwise show support, visit