In 2006, ComedySportz San Jose hosted the ComedySportz World Championship for their first time. Kramer and the team had just relocated to Camera 3 Cinemas in Downtown San Jose, a place the team would call home for going on 10 years now. For me, that theater is a type of home more than any apartment or school campus has ever been to me. Right after we open the house and the players clear to go warm up, I always hang back and look at the empty field and give a quiet and cheerful thank you before walking upstairs to join everyone in the green room.
Driving home from that Championship in 2006 that summer was when the decision to scrap original plans to move to So Cal and attend CSU Northridge was made. I was exhausted and barely remembered more than scrambling every day to make sure people had name badges and welcome bags, but I remember sitting in the large theater, surrounded by CSz family, watching the Scrimmage (an all cities improv jam), and thinking “…I want to be around this all the time.” So I stayed. I schooled, worked, and lived in the Bay.
I slung beer and garlic fries just a block away from ComedySportz, at Gordon Biersch – on my breaks at the restaurant, sometimes I would run down to the theater and catch the middle of the Saturday night match in progress. I etched well-worn paths between my apartments (always just a few blocks away), the San Jose State campus, and ComedySportz. It was never going to leave me and I’ve known I would be a lifer since 2006. I eventually moved to San Francisco and way too many teammates were victim to my incessant “HiILefttheCityLaterThanIThought – I’llBeLatetoPracticeI’mSorryI’mSorryI’mSorry” texts.
Nevertheless, choices beget more choices, beget more choices, and now I live in Boston, living a life intentionally designed to surround myself with this all the time.
Going to Championship every summer* is pretty sacred, but this year’s is hella special because it’s IN SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA! I get to return to the scene of the crime!
The Boston team has two first timers going this year – Christin Rills and Elizabeth Guerra (alongside veterans Joe Gels, Jonathan Barron, Adi Heller, Betse Green, and alumni Dan Houbrick).
Check out the (now annual, I guess) list below for little bits and bobs that I think make for a smoother trip/experience, especially if it’s your first CWC.
I baked in a few San Jose or San Francisco spots into the tried and true list, for any folks doing extra sight seeing while they’re in California.
6 Things to Take with You to the ComedySportz World Championship
1. Clothes that Layer
Bay Area weather is warm and cool in shifts, and the nights get cooler as you go. A light hoodie or a long sleeve stuffed into a backpack always comes in handy. If you plan to travel to SF for a day trip, you will definitely want clothes that layer, because SF can be up to 20degrees cooler than San Jose on the same day. Ridiculous. Anyone that owns an “I <3 San Francisco” sweatshirt never set out to buy it intentionally – they ended up with it, seeking shelter after a day game at AT&T Park. San Francisco will be cool and foggy in June/July! If you go to the beach, bring your hoodies or a wind breaker. Blankets. Fire wood. Extra blankets. It’s Northern California.
On top of regular clothes that are comfortable to move around in and take workshops in, I also bring workout clothes. I’ve noticed over the years that more and more folks enjoy getting sticking to their training, doing a modified version, or a run in. I like to! Physical health keeps my mental and emotional health in good standing – it’s all connected. It also doubles as down time with myself to collect my thoughts and recharge, which is important to me. There are also wonderful hiking spots in the Bay, including Mission Peak (that’s a big one) and Mount Tam.
Outdoor spaces that show off California well: Ocean Beach, Fort Funston (HAS LOTS OF DOGS, ZOMG, PRETEND THEY ARE YOURS AND HAVE A BLAST) and Lands End point – they’re all lined up next to each other along a stretch of coast in San Francisco. Easily accessible by car and parking is simple. As you walk, you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge nearly the entire time. Everyone goes to the Cliff House for fancy pants meals, but you can hack the system for the same gorgeous view by going to Louie’s, a well-loved tiny diner with strong coffee, eggs and toast plates (cash only).
Fun fact: The owners are family of San Jose alumni/Portland player, Amanda C. !
2. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are typically for camping, but I use them for most packing scenarios. You can roll and stack your clothes inside, fit your stuff in a more organized way, and unpack/re-pack neatly. It’s also helpful to separate dirty from clean during the week.
It’s even more helpful when re-packing to go home. I bought mine from my local sporting/camping goods store in SF but you can also find them on Amazon. An average set will run you $25-$32 for a set of 3-5 cubes.
3. A Re-Usable Water Bottle
You’re out of your day-to-day routine and running around a lot more than normal – stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you get to a lunch break or finish a walk back to your room to get water.
- Dehydration = Headaches, lethargy, getting sick, etc.
- Hydration = Healthy organ function, improves digestion, absorb water-soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and B12.
In addition to just helping cut down on bottled water waste (kudos to Bill Cernansky from CSz Portland, for championing this cause), it’s just easier. I get and keep my water bottle on me all through the week. (Btw: Keep it empty until you get past airport security; fill it up from a fountain)
Klean Kanteens are lightweight and durable. Any stainless steel water bottle will do the trick. LifeFactory bottles are BPA-free and dishwasher safe, with a rubber grip coating on the outside. Both brands offer interchangeable lids so you can mix and match colors/tops/bottles. I got both mine from my local sporting goods store but, again, Amazon is a wonder.
Mine goes with me everywhere. Even a restaurant – if I don’t finish all my water from my glass, I dump it into my bottle and take it to go.
If you need help drinking more H20 overall, try this blog post on 7 Tips to Drink More Water.
4. Sleep mask & Ear plugs
You’re most likely sharing a room with a couple of folks that all have different sleep habits and emit various noise levels.
Pack a sleep mask to block the occasional 4 am light, and ear plugs if you need quiet to get to sleep/stay asleep or take a nap. It can make all the difference between being on time for your first workshop and…not.
5. Flip flops & Sneakers
All of CWC is walkable for all of our main points – to the Hammer Theater for matches, ComedySportz for fun stuff, places to eat, workshops and meetings. For city walking, sneakers will suit you right. A pair of flip flops will see you through schlepping around the dorm / shared spaces.
A pair of each makes for an easy week of getting around the short distances between all of our main points.
In CWC’s past, we’ve made good use of our sneakers by getting a group together for a run. (Chicago, 2012, Buffalo 2013, Milwaukee 2014, Quad Cities 2015, Indy 2016)
6) Apps that Help
Most folks are familiar with these by now, but I’ll list a couple here that specifically help with CWC weekend:
- Mobile app travel/itinerary planner TripIt. All of my trip information is organized here. The single biggest reason I use TripIt is because as long as I just forward all confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org from my email account, it all gets collected here and then I don’t have to search emails for airport names, car rental information, flight confirmation numbers, additional hotel info, etc.
- Payment sharing mobile apps like Venmo or Square Cash – Expenses during championship sometimes wind up being things shared among many – a cash only bar here, a split lunch bill there – it happens. Our group is notorious for taking the city by storm, and then crowding around tables during the hour-breaks between workshops and meals before matches. If you keep a cash swapping app on your smartphone, you can easily send, receive and requests money, that way folks can easily get you back via the app. In my experience, this is easier than the exchange of cash/getting to an ATM, and there is no dealing with “I owe you,” and no getting stuck overpaying your part of a bill. I like Venmo, mainly because of the emojis (and by “mainly,” I mean “exactly”) you can use in the “What for” area. Though, I believe Cash drops the received cash into your bank account directly. (whereas Venmo takes 48 hours on average).
Along with this list, I also have my standard checklist of “Don’t Forgets!”
- Notebook and pen – For note taking in workshops. Yes, a device can do this, too, but I find this distracting and easy to get distracted on. Plus nothing beats pen and paper. Except Rock.
- Your ComedySportz uniform – I forgot mine in 2011. Double check it.
- Snacks – Convenient and cheaper than eating out constantly.Since we’ll be in the SJSU dorms, each suite is equipped with a kitchenette. (sink, microwave, cabinets, and a counter top). There aren’t any burners or a fridge in the room, but the communal kitchen that we will all have access to has burners and a fridge. San Jose players will be donating some kitchenware for the cause. I like having food on me, either for me or a friend in need of a snack. I frequent:
- Arms – Don’t forget your arms, for hugging and high fives.
My “If You Want X, Go to Y” List
These are all 1-2 blocks walking distance from ComedySportz/The Hammer Theater/SJSU
- Great Coffee: Go to Philz Coffee. Born in the Bay – their original store is in the Mission District, in SF – and they have a shop CONVENIENTLY OPEN between ComedySportz and SJSU. It’s coffee where they do the single pour drippy thingy, and it’s delicious, and also they’re lovely. I plan to have a cup of Philz stapled to my hand the entire week. I’ve been getting a New Manhattan for years, only so I can pronounce it Nude Manhattan every time. No one has caught it yet.
- Great Tacos – Go to La Victoria’s (La Vics, by the locals). Al Pastor super tacos will set you right. Their orange sauce is their secret super hero power. It’s one block across and over from ComedySportz.
- A Fast Diner: Go to Whispers. The management and staff is lovely, which can take my money any day. They are quick and inexpensive. I
- Another Diner: Go to Flames. They have a large food and cocktail menu, breakfast all day and fun desserts. Sometimes they are slammed, so go with a time cushion to spare.
- A Grocery Store: There is a Safeway a block from the SJSU campus. Easy peasy.
- Vegan Food: Good Karma has been thriving in downtown SJ and offer a regular rotation of great vegan food to choose from.
- An Outdoor Patio: Go to Gordon Biersch. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant (originated in Palo Alto, just down the road!), but the outdoor patio plays jazz and swing music in the summer and it maintains its integrity as a great place to spend a warm night in good company.
Honorable shout out goes to Falafal Drive In (banana milk shakes and falafel). There are also tons of additional restaurants, bars, and eateries just a few extra blocks up and over in the new Public Market and in San Pedro Square – all 10-15 minutes walking through downtown.
If I’ve left anything off, tack it on in the comments!
If you’re returning, I can’t wait to see you all in a few weeks! If you’re new, I can’t wait to meet you. If you’re my mom, thanks for reading my blogs!
* Past ComedySportz World Championships I’ve attended
- San Jose, CA (2006)
- Quad Cities, IA (2007)
- Milwaukee, WI (2009)
- Indianapolis, IN (2011)
- Chicago, IL (2012)
- Buffalo, NY (2013)
- Milwaukee, WI (2014)
- Quad Cities, IA (2015)
- Indianapolis, IN (2016)