Return of the Ref

Several years ago, I started reffing ComedySportz matches. (This past year, I even had the privilege of reffing one of the World Championship matches.)

Tonight, I reffed a match for the first time since Sage was born. I had a few rough moments, but it mostly came back to me.

Sometimes, people ask me why I like reffing, and don’t I like playing more?

I like reffing because if it’s done right, you are playing. You’re playing the 90-minute-long character of The Ref.  Your scene partners include everyone on the field — the two captains and the four other players — as well as Mr. Voice and every audience member with which you interact.

You adapt to the crowd, and you adapt to the players, but you maintain your own character. And maybe the character is a lot like you, and maybe he’s not — it’s kind of up to you.

For me, The Ref is usually pretty close to who I am, although I change things up sometimes. And when I get the chance to solicit suggestions, my normal fear of interacting with people that I don’t know disappears, because (a) it’s not ME, it’s The Ref; (b) they’re the ones that get put on the spot (QUICK — give me a film style!); and (c) I’m getting the audience to provide fodder for my other scene partners, the players.

Yes, I do love captaining a team, and yes, I do love playing without captaining as well. My ideal four-match weekend would include reffing, captaining, playing, and being Mr. Voice.

But sometimes, reffing can be even more fun than playing.

Tonight, with the incomparable Phil Graf as Mr. Voice, I got to ref Erin Carr Adams, Kelsey VanVoorst, Eryn Bowser, Frankie Bolda, Rick Randjelovic, and Tim Harrison. That’s seven people I love to perform with, even if I’m not in the scenes that the audience will remember.

I can’t imagine why people don’t want to ref.

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