Register Saturday | September 30 | 2023

World Cup of Comedy

Masters of improv from around the globe

The big deal this summer in Germany wasn’t soccer or Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt—it was, of course, the largest Theatresports tournament of all time. Theatreports is a wonderfully zany combination of improv comedy and a game show. Sixteen national teams competed in fifty-five matches, ending with the televised final in Berlin, where Canada and Belgium were crowned co-champions after three tiebreakers. As Team Canada's blog, The Canadian Shield, put it: “Like every good shark-jumping moment, everyone learned a valuable lesson, friendships were strengthened with mahogany, and a sassy, smart-talking baby grew up before our eyes.” Below, Canadian mascot and team member Derek Flores (“a cross between a spider monkey and Ren” from Ren & Stimpy) reflects on the competition.



Remember the most beautiful girl in high school—cat’s eyes, high cheekbones, haughty, distant, Arctic gaze? Remember how drunk on vodka she got at the MuchMusic Video Dance Party, flipping her skirt over her head, sticking her finger up her nose, talking shit about her parents? Remember how she took a pee in the corner of the gymnasium? That was the Russian team.



The Zimbabweans were like African soccer—talented, charismatic and undisciplined. Headed by a large, flamboyant black man, Team Zimbabwe won points on sheer exuberance but, in the end, offered flickering cubic zirconia in lieu of any real sparkling diamonds of comedy.



The Swedish players have been practising their singing for years. Scales. Scat. Crescendoes. Overlapping genres and themes. Three- and four-part harmonies. They have also mastered Strindberg, Bergman and syphilitic Scandinavian kitchen sink drama…andcan still get a laugh. Respect them. Fear them.


New Zealand

Quiet, biting, sarcastic wit. Yet in the quarter-final, we overran their immune systems like so many comedy-infected blankets. The New Zealand captain, a Canadian who has been living “down under” for many years, actually played a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings. I think she might only be in the extended DVD version, but yeah, she looked like a really happy hobbit.


In spite of the death of her grandmother and being hit by a car, Austrian improviser Charlotte participated in Theatresports…in a neck brace. And she still managed to flirt with most of the boys and some of the girls (it is Europe, after all), be in the “Top 5” most mornings and keep her distance emotionally and physically from me (alas).



With the spirit of a thousand pine trees and the raging power of the mighty North Saskatchewan River, the Canadian trio (Jacob Banigan, Steve Sim and I) learned the following during the final: rain is the tears of a giraffe; a man may smell of cheese, yet still find true love; and even Make-A-Wish Foundations can get terminally ill. Personal highlight: being applauded for my rendition of a dying child who ate too many cigarettes.



Think of Ryan Stiles raping a young Jerry Lewis and then siring a rabid, three-headed hell-dog. That was Belgium: a trio of aged Tintins, round-faced, prone to drink, and obsessed with the French (the arrogance of the French, the cartooniness of the French, the disregard for narrative of the French, etc.). It’s fitting that the crown was shared between their noble country and Canada, as it speaks to the co-operative nature of improv. But still, fuck—Belgians