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CSz BackStage with Rob Hoffmann

Rob Hoffmann as referee

Rob Hoffmann demonstrating how to handle brown bag fouls.

In our series, "CSz BackStage" we ask players from ComedySportz® Richmond to tell us a little about themselves and their outlook on improv.

In this second installment, we check in with the multi-talented, Rob Hoffmann. Rob joined CSz in August 2013. Prior to becoming a Minor League Player, he was already a CSz Announcer.

How do you normally spend your time, when not improvising with CSz Richmond?

I’m an IT support technician, radio studio producer (for VCU basketball and Flying Squirrels baseball) and sports fan.

Do you have prior theater experience?

Be onstage? I’d rather swim through shark-infested water trailing a bucket of chum.

Which classes have you taken?

Are there any specific memories that stand out from classes or workshops?

I’m one of those people (there are a few) that don’t hold onto specific memories well. In the bigger picture, it’s been watching my Adult 101/MLT2 [Minor League Team 2] teammates grow from “What’s improv?” to where they are today, including three new Major League players.

In what Leagues have you participated as a member?

With what Leagues have you participated as a Coach, Ref, or Announcer?

Elementary League, Middle School, High School, Minor League, Major League, and musical parodies.

Why improv?

Because it was there. Actually, because “Whose Line is it Anyway?” existed. I saw that, then discovered CSz Richmond. I really enjoy the art form and the idea that whatever I’m watching (or more recently, performing) will happen just the one time.

Have you ever been affiliated with another improv group?

Not intentionally

What is one important thing you have learned from improv?

It’s ok not to be right all the time.

What are your FIVE favorite things about CSz Richmond? Why?

  1. MLT2

  2. The energy in the room when a match is going well

  3. Dave [Gau, Artistic Director]

  4. The chance to escape the rest of my life for a few hours

  5. Smurphy [player, Sarah Murphy]

What has been your favorite memory as an improviser, so far?

Onstage, it was the night MLT2 took on Naïve replay and won. I haven’t had a scene, before or since that clicked as seamlessly as that one did.

What are your FIVE favorite games? Why?

  1. Five Things. The challenge of the game makes it fun.

  2. Blind Line – making absurd lines work.

  3. Pick a Play - See #2

  4. Slo Mo (Sportscasters). I wanted to be a sportscaster at one point in my life. This is as close as I’ll get.

  5. What You Got – because I fail, spectacularly, every time we play it.

A lot goes on to maintain the operations of the theater and in the production of matches. Rob works tirelessly, often behind the scenes, as the glue that holds the things together and the grease that keeps things moving. As you enter the theater, look right and up into the Announcer’s crow’s nest and you may see Rob orchestrating the lights and sounds. The Announcer is integral to the match helping to score while accenting scenes with music and sound effects. During MLT games he plays but can also switch up and don the “black and white” of the Referee. He uses his tech talents to help with the social media and maintaining the site.

Rob’s Minor League teammates might argue that they’ve already discovered his superpower. They recently awarded him MVP, meaning they consider him the player who has proven time and time again to go above and beyond the call of duty to help with everything throughout the year to really make MLT shine, from special events to every MLT match to everyday theater operations. We asked Rob anyway ...

What's your improv superpower?

It remains to be discovered.

With whom would you most like to perform improv? (Anyone, dead or alive). Why?

Thomas George and Zach Arnold, because they were gone before I got into improv and I know they would have wanted to be a part of my journey.

What is the most absurd thing that has happened while you were on stage? (That you'll admit to?)

If we count refereeing, and I am, it was calling Oscar Winning Moment when Guy [Winterbotham, Minor League 2 player] did his moment entirely as a giant chicken – the whole moment was in clucks and ended with him laying the giant [prop] egg from Lyrical Weapon. Nothing that insane has happened when I’ve played.

[Ed. Note from Guy: “Moments like these are a testament to Rob’s refereeing instincts. Walking around a giant chicken would have gotten old, fast. It was Rob who turned it into something memorable.”]

What advice do you have for all the improv newbies out there?

Remember, more than anything else, this is supposed to be fun. The last thing I say to my team before a match is to “have fun.” Because if this isn’t fun, why would you ever want to be out there?

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