Emma Newman staff writer
Nick Kay staff writer
The ComedySportz club, along with those of a number of other high schools, participated in a Gamecon last Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The event consisted of workshops about comedic improv, break-out rooms with professional actors associated with the ComedySportz organization and a virtual match between two adult teams. Due to the event’s new online format over Zoom, the club’s members experienced some setbacks, while also enjoying some of the unique online aspects of the Gamecon.
Club member senior Gabriel Green, who has been in the club since its first year 2018, enjoyed seeing the event thrive despite its new format.
“It definitely gave me hope to see how funny the ComedySportz routine could be online,” Green said. “It maintained a lot of the energy that’s unique to it.”
The Gamecon began with a match between two adult teams, which club sponsor and drama teacher Karen Chandler thought were “super entertaining.” Chandler said that during the performance, multiple actors experienced technical difficulties.
“One gal’s camera froze right in the middle of a game, so somebody else from her team had to jump in and make a joke about her being frozen,” Chandler said. “I think [it’s] frustrating and at the same time reassuring to everybody that…everybody is experiencing the same issues.”
Following the virtual match, a general session taught students how to utilize different Zoom tools in order to improve their virtual performances.
“[The event] did feel different in a negative way, but also like there are new things that we’re able to play with using Zoom, which was cool,” club manager senior Parsa Farnad said. “We use camera perspective a lot more because you couldn’t use that before, so the camera perspective virtual background like filters on stuff, which is a nice addition.”
Students were then put into breakout rooms with a variety of professional ComedySportz actors which at first proved to be a challenge. Due to the large number of students present, it was difficult for James Bailey, the director of ComedySportz, to split the 368 students into 15-20 different breakout groups.
Green found this part to be one of the more enjoyable aspects of the Gamecon because it felt more “intimate” to him. He saw it as a way to connect to people and showcase what Beverly Hills has to offer.
“Everyone made some connections there,” Green said. “It’s also a good place to prove the stereotype of Beverly Hills kids wrong; just go there and make some friends and represent the school in a positive way.”
Other than technical difficulties, the attendees did admit to noticing drawbacks during this year’s Gamecon. For example, Farnad did not experience a connection to the audience that doing improv in person would normally involve.
“Improv, in general, just doesn’t work as well when you can’t feed off of the audience’s energy,” Farnad said. “Watching over Zoom has that similar effect, even as an audience member, when you don’t feel the vibe of the audience.”
Green noticed that the depth of instruction from the actors was less than it could have been if the circumstances were different, although he still appreciated the experience.
“You meet all these cool people who work for ComedySportz,” Green said. “They’re also really funny people. For the workshops, they couldn’t be as detailed as they would [normally] be, but they still definitely have a lot of value.”
Chandler thought the Gamecon’s biggest weakness was that it added onto the already large amount of screentime that students experience.
“I wish I could say that anything on Zoom was as easy as watching Netflix, but it’s not because it’s still live theater,” Chandler said. “There is a certain elevation that you have to apply towards watching, and we’re all tired.”
However, overall, Farnad still saw the Gamecon as a positive experience because of the connections he made.
“We were all strangers for the most part, except like some people knew like two or three other people in the breakout room,” Farnad said. “Everyone still liked each other and it was like an extended family reunion. You might not [know] everybody but you’re still happy to see them, and the fact that that feeling is there even if it’s virtual is heartwarming to see.”