It was the fall heard round the world.
It started out as any other day for ComedySportz San Jose’s Courtney Pong. The longtime veteran of Silicon Valley’s longest running show was doing what she does every year – taking a leisurely run with a bunch of buddies that play for various ComedySportz teams throughout the world as they all gathered for their annual Super Bowl – The ComedySportz World Championships in Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa.
The run took place on the last day of a four-day competition. The last day of intense, improvisational battles gives way to the final morning where players do various things – museums, sleeping, and in Pong’s case, a 3.2 mile run with other improvisational comedy peers.
As the run progressed, in an example of masterful coordination, Pong fell on a notch in a bridge. And she fell hard. As in, hella hard.
“I banged up my right and left side, and it didn’t feel like anything too bad, so I finished the run and felt fine,” said Pong.
Instead of resting on her laurels, Pong found herself more strenuous stuff to do. As the morning progressed, she found herself doing battle in a kickball game. And in the high stakes world of kickball, when there is a close play at the plate, you slide and slide hard.
Pong didn’t slide into home plate. It was more like a stop, drop and roll.
Yet still, she didn’t feel horrible. The day went on, the ComedySportz final match played to its conclusion, a new champ was crowned (Quad Cities, by the way), and then it was onto the ComedySportz prom.
That’s when things started to literally and figuratively go south and got unfunny real fast.
At the prom, a final mixer to close the festivities, Pong’s stomach was doing something weird, which she chalked up to a bad food choice.
“It felt like a cramp, and I figured if I sat, it would go away,” said Pong.
But it wasn’t going away, and after a half-hour of unsuccessful sitting, the pain took over her whole body. There was no choice but to go to the hospital.
“Tammy Munro, my friend from the Los Angeles team who is a nurse, told me she was taking me to the emergency room, and that I was not the decision maker anymore,” said Pong.
Now for Pong, this was not terribly scary despite the fact that she had never been inside of a hospital for any type of injury. But what freaked her out beyond words is that she was being introduced to a surgeon – her surgeon.
It turns out that a portion of her intestine had flipped, causing great pain and putting her in a precarious position. This resulted in an emergency appendectomy, and a ton of fear to boot.
“It was terrifying talking to the surgeon. When he was talking, my ears were on fire, said Pong. “I’ve never had to deal with any major medical situations, it’s just not something that has happened to me. My brain is thinking that I hope my insurance covers this, and on top of that I am in a different city than my hometown, which was extremely terrifying.”
The good news is the surgery went well, and despite the fact that Pong is still in Quad Cities waiting for flight clearance to return to the Bay Area, she is on the mend, feeling lucky, and blown away by where the story goes next.
In the midst of all of the chaos, the surreal outpouring of support from her ComedySportz brethren left her speechless. Whether it was comforting her parents back home, sitting in the hospital at all hours, and coordinating efforts to keep her in hotels for an extended period of time, so many came through. Her funny buddies even squeezed a twitter hashtag out of it, #pongstrong.
One of those who got the ball rolling was Rene Duquesnoy, a player from ComedySportz Chicago and Pong’s longtime friend. Recognizing that the various bills would begin to pile up, Duquesnoy set up a donation site where people who know Pong or have even seen her at a ComedySportz show could give anything to support her.
“I was just thinking what kind of coverage she has, how she would get home, she was going to have to miss work, and I wanted to donate a few bucks to help out,” said Duqesnoy. “A bunch of people wanted to do that too, and I started this website.”
The website has now raised more than $5,000 to help with Pong’s various expenses. All of which has Pong floored by the amazing outpouring of generosity that has reached far and wide.
“It’s extremely overwhelming,” said Pong. “The best thing I’ve learned is that while it sucks being away from home, it really doesn’t suck that much because I have my Comedysportz family far and wide. There are so many people that want to help, and at the end of the day, that’s invaluable.”
Most importantly, the moral of this story just may be that when you fall, make sure the world is watching.
If you would like to help Courtney’s situation, please visit this website.
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Comedysportz San Jose
Shows every Friday and Saturday night
The Camera Three Cinema
288 South Second Street, San Jose, CA 95113
For tickets, visit www.comedysportzsanjose.com