Comedy Sportz duo teaches students about importance of body language

Your body is giving you away.

Comedy Sportz, an improvisational group with locations around the country, presented a program Tuesday at Ball State University, teaching students in the Excellence in Leadership program lessons about body language. 

"People need to know what messages they are sending nonverbally," Ed Trout, the artistic director for the Indianapolis Comedy Sportz location, said. "That's why we developed these workshops for people. They can be silly but learn something too."

Trout said the fundamentals of improvisation include paying attention, agreeing rather than disagreeing, putting the team ahead of the individual, being committed and having fun. He said he tried to include these basics in the workshop.

During the seminar students moved their chairs in a circle to become part of the program. After listening to the fundamentals of improvisation, they worked as a group in warm-up activities and then broke into pairs to do some role playing.

Students changed their body language multiple times through this activity while describing a problem to their partner. Trout explained to students how little changes affect the way someone interprets what others are saying.

"It helped me step out of my comfort zone," junior communications studies major Jared Bramer said. "You really have to pay attention to what you're doing when talking to others."

"The things we do with our body affect our attitude and what people think of you," Trout said.

Trout and his partner, Claire Wilcher, travel to schools and businesses teaching things like team building and body language.

"Team building is inherit to improvisational comedy," Wilcher said. "It comes naturally that we can help in this way."

Excellence in Leadership is a two-year program focusing on leadership development through workshops, events and community service projects. Students have the opportunity to participate for credit.

"So far we haven't done too much, but the stuff we have done was better than I thought," freshman communication studies major Lisa Vitkin said. "I think it will pay off at the end." Wilcher said she thinks this is the best way for students to learn about leadership.

"It's a non-intimidating way to learn," Wilcher said. "The best way to learn is when you don't realize you're doing it."


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