Kids in the hall behind the Arby’s
ComedySportz Theater2230 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95821
Johnny Sittisin is a slender, racially ambiguous fellow who looks as if Steve Urkel and Michael Bivins had a Filipino baby. I met him in my graduate, fiction-writing seminar at Sac State. That’s right: I go to grad school at Sac State. I wear Juicy sweatpants and drool on myself.
Anyway, Sittisin is a unique specimen. While the average person goes out of his way to avoid awkward moments, Sittisin invites them. He embraces and nurtures them like little kitties. What I’m trying to say is that he’s the guy who talks to you while you’re peeing. Why? Not sure, but it gets me thinking, What does a guy like this do outside of an academic setting?
Well, it turns out, he does improvisational comedy. Which is perfect.
Last Friday, I took my wife to watch him in his natural habitat, at ComedySportz—a little club tucked neatly into one of Sacramento’s many strip-mall districts. The ComedySportz franchise (there are clubs all over the country and a couple in Europe), founded in 1984, is Sacramento’s answer to Whose Line Is it Anyway?
When we pulled up, the first thing I noticed were kids in the parking lot, and, frankly, my first thought was, Ah, fuck, what have we gotten ourselves into? Whenever I see kids, I think of yelling and vomit, which is probably a mental disorder. And probably why I don’t have kids.
So inside the club—outfitted with big, comfortable couches and colorful walls—a really young blond guy with a flesh-colored mustache sold me some Peanut M&M’s and a Diet Coke, and we took a seat in the small theater.
To be honest, as I sat there munching on delicious snacks, I thought, I wonder if they can tell when I’m fake laughing?
And then a guy dressed up like a referee took to the stage, explaining the rules: I don’t know. I forget them. Something about two teams and some other stuff, and then he blew a whistle. The games are kind a flurry of the audience yelling words and the actors (surprisingly young, like, in their 20s or younger) making stuff up. For instance, when the audience says, “Pizza toppings,” the actor replies, “Mushrooms, motor oil … children.” Or, things with two wheels: “A unicycle, if you built it wrong.”
The point is, I laughed my ass off. In fact, I laughed so hard that I forgot to write stuff down. I don’t know any of the actors’ names or what they said. I just know they were quick-witted and hilarious. And I remember a funny-ass Canadian dude, a couple of really hot funny chicks and my classmate, Johnny, who acted in a faux-soap opera called, Macaulay Culkin Is My Father.
It was really good. And family-friendly, which I didn’t know was possible.
So, is ComedySportz the most fun you can have behind an Arby’s? No. But it’s the most fun you can have behind an Arby’s without going to jail for possession of a controlled substance and solicitation.
And that’s good enough.