It’s no secret that Chicago is home to some of the world’s most talented improv actors. The Chicago Improv Festival celebrates them with a weeklong series of events, ranging from musical comedy to long-form and dramatic and experimental performances.
The Upright Citizens Brigade, which originated in Chicago before relocating to New York and Los Angeles, headlines the week. UCB founders Matt Besser (Walk Hard), Matt Walsh (Veep), and Ian Roberts (Anchorman) perform with Betsy Sodaro in “improv4humans” (4/5) and close the festival on Sunday (4/6) in “Asssscat” with Sodaro and SNL veterans Tim Meadows and Horatio Sanz, all at Stage 773. (Sanz is also Susan Messing’s guest in “Messing With a Friend” on Saturday.)
But why wait till the weekend? The festival kicks off Monday (3/31) with “The Best of Chicago Improv” at Stage 773, starring Baby Wants Candy, the Boys, and Improvised Shakespeare Company. The featured acts on Tuesday (4/1) are Deep Schwa, iO’s longest-running improv team, and Train Wreck at Second City E.T.C.
Touring duo Jet Eveleth and Paul Brittain perform Wednesday (4/2) at Second City E.T.C. with 3 Peat, another iO ensemble.On Wednesday you can also see improv troupes from Brazil, Switzerland, and Poland, among other places, in “One World, One Stage” at ComedySportz Theatre. ComedySportz itself performs Thursday (4/3) with New Zealand’s Improv Bandits.
Friday (4/4) and Saturday (4/5) are jam-packed with performances (26 on Friday and 30 on Saturday), so wear your most comfortable walking shoes and prepare to stage-hop around the city.
On Friday, enjoy musical comedy from ImprovBoston AllStars, GULP!, and North Coast at pH Comedy Club, and embrace your inner nerd with Improvised Jane Austen and Improvised Star Trek at Chemically Imbalanced Theater.
On Saturday, popular improv comedians Rachael Mason, David Razowsky, and Joe Bill perform together for the first time at De Maat Studio Theatre. Natural Gas takes the stage at the Bughouse Theater, along with Impressionistic Horror and One Act.
Yes, it’s a lot to pack into one week, but having too many clever shows to see is really a good problem to have. Check chicagoimprovfestival.org for the full schedule and details for all shows. —Taylor Tolbert